Un­cle Toni opens door to a ‘su­per-coach’ for Nadal

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY TALEK HARRIS

Rafael Nadal’s life­long men­tor, his un­cle Toni, has opened the door to hir­ing a “su­per-coach” if the 14-time Grand Slam-win­ner fails to re­cap­ture his spark next sea­son.

Toni Nadal said the 29-year-old should con­sider fol­low­ing Novak Djokovic, Roger Fed­erer and oth­ers by bring­ing in a su­per­star men­tor if the turn­around does not come soon.

Calls for Nadal to aban­don Toni blew up af­ter he flopped at both the French Open, a tour­na­ment he has won nine times, and Wim­ble­don dur­ing a dis­mal run this year.

“I think you need to ask Rafael,” he said at the China Open in Bei­jing, when asked by AFP if Nadal should con­sider a new men­tor.

“But we have a group and I’m the coach of Rafael for ever, since Rafael was three years old ... and things were al­ways good for us.

“It’s true that this year he’s go­ing a lit­tle down but I am sure the come­back of Rafael is com­ing soon.

“Maybe if next year Rafael is play­ing not too good, then I think he can think about some changes in his game or in his team.”

Top-ranked Djokovic has flour­ished since adding Boris Becker to his team, win­ning three Grand Slam ti­tles this year, while Roger Fed­erer, 34, is en­joy­ing an In­dian sum­mer un­der Ste­fan Ed­berg.

Bri­tain’s Andy Mur­ray pio- neered the trend when he hired Ivan Lendl as his coach, in what was a sur­prise move at the time but helped him win two Grand Slam ti­tles and Olympic sin­gles gold.

But Nadal’s set-up has al­ways been un­usual and Toni, de­spite his lack of cre­den­tials when they started out, has forged a ca­reer which has made him one of the most suc­cess­ful coaches in ten­nis history.

Af­ter John McEn­roe sparked the de­bate over Nadal’s team, Djokovic was one player who leapt to un­cle Toni’s de­fense.

“I don’t see a big rea­son for this to hap­pen. I think he’s (Nadal) go­ing to an­swer bet­ter. But from what I’ve seen, he’s say­ing it’s not nec­es­sary,” the Serb said at Wim­ble­don.

“He has won 14 Grand Slam ti­tles. He’s one of the best play­ers in the game with his un­cle Toni who has been with him for his en­tire ca­reer.”

Nadal him­self in­sists he can get back to the top, and is us­ing the end-of-year swing start­ing in Bei­jing as “prac­tice” for next sea­son.

“I think I am work­ing well. I am very mo­ti­vated to go for that chal­lenge that brings me the chance to over­come a tough sit­u­a­tion for me,” he said on Sun­day.

“I love that feel­ing, and I am go­ing to fight to make that hap­pen.” Toni Nadal was speak­ing while pro­mot­ing the Rafael Nadal Academy, which will open in his home town of Mana­cor in Mal­lorca next May.

AFP

This pic­ture taken on Sun­day, Oct. 4 shows Rafael Nadal’s un­cle Tony Nadal, speak­ing dur­ing a press in­ter­view at a Rafael Nadal Academy event on the side­lines of the China Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Bei­jing.

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