ROME, ITALY – MAY 16: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in their Men’s Singles Round of 16 match during Day Five of the International BNL d’Italia at Foro Italico on May 16, 2019 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
He may have joined a rival’s coaching setup as a consultant but Toni Nadal is still keeping copious tabs on his nephew Rafael Nadal’s progress ahead of the clay court swing this year.
In an interview with Radio Marca, the veteran coach, who is still involved with the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy as the director, said he is hopeful of his nephew having another phenomenal clay court season.
Toni said that from what he has seen of Nadal’s training sessions, his preparation for the dirt leg of the men’s season is going well and he is reasonably optimistic that he will script more success on clay this year.
“Rafa is upbeat, playing pretty well from what I’ve seen in training sessions in Mallorca. I think he can do a good dirt tour,” Toni told Radio Marca.
The experienced Spaniard, who coached Nadal to 16 of his 20 career Grand Slam titles, has joined Canadian tennis star Felix Auger-Aliassime’s team as a consultant.
He will begin his stint with the 20-year-old at the upcoming Monte Carlo Masters, a title his nephew has won a record 11 times. A bulk of those 11 titles came when he was Nadal’s coach.
However, his current job potentially puts him in a situation where he will be expected to give his tactical inputs to his Canadian understudy to plot his nephew’s defeat, should they play each other at some stage in the French principality.
Toni told Marca that he would adopt a neutral stance if Felix draws Nadal at Monte Carlo and won’t sit with either camp out of respect for both the players.
Nadal will be hoping for a championship run at the principality, as it will set the tone for a successful title defense at the Roland-Garros.
The Spaniard claimed his 13th French Open title last year, more than any other player past or present.
The win also put him level with Big 3 rival Roger Federer’s career tally of Grand Slam trophies.
Read More: Novak Djokovic, Fabio Fognini and Others: Who Can Stop Rafael Nadal at Monte Carlo Masters 2021?
The 34-year-old fell to a shock semi-final defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas at this year’s Australian Open and will be determined to make amends in Paris.
Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing. From covering live matches to writing features or reports on all that’s happening in the world of tennis, he is mining his interest in the sport to strive for writing excellence. When he is not busy writing about tennis, he likes to read, watch his favorite shows and films on Netflix or other streaming platforms, or catch Roger Federer in action.
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