In February 2017, when Toni Nadal announced that he would be stepping down as his nephew Rafa’s coach at the end of the season to take up a more proactive responsibility in the Rafa Nadal Academy, the announcement had strong reverberations.
For, not only had it come as a surprise, but also because it meant that an era would come to an end. Not that theirs was a unique partnership by any means. There have been several instances where family members have doubled up as successful coaches in the tennis realm.
However, what separated the Toni and Rafael Nadal duality was that where other such similar partnerships coming out of familial relationships often stifled and compromised the player’s emotional well-being, there was no trajectory of one-upmanship that looked to be wielded by Nadal Sr.
over his protégé in all these years of their association. Certainly, doubts were cast when it seemed from Toni’s wording – to Il Tennis Italiano – he was dissatisfied with the way his role had been altered after the recent additions which were made to Rafa’s coaching camp – specifically pertaining to Carlos Moya, who joined the team at the end of the 2016 season.