The most successful partnership in tennis could be on the verge of breaking up, after Rafa Nadal hinted he may call time on his association with his coach and uncle Toni Nadal.
The world No2 was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the US Open final six days ago and is said to be anxiously contemplating a life- changing decision.
Nadal, 25, has won ten Grand Slam titles in harness with Toni, but there are suggestions he is ready to move his career on without him.
Nadal first lost his world No1 ranking to Djokovic, then his Wimbledon title, and now the US crown. The Serb has also defeated Nadal in their last six meetings this year, and insiders are now suggesting that Nadal no longer knows how to beat the undisputed world No1.
Nadal himself admits that it is becoming increasing difficult for family man Toni to continue to have authority over him as a player and a person, and also that his uncle is finding the constant travelling a problem.
“You never know what is in the future. The time has now come when I can say more to him than I have done previously. I’m not kidding when I say that from now on I will answer him back because I have more opinions than I had before.”
“If other people outside my family said to me what he says, then it would be very difficult to keep working together. Also he has three kids, and sometimes he gets tired of travelling. So far I’ve been happy with how I’ve played this year, but not with my matches against Djokovic. He’s my motivation to play better.”
Now it appears for the first time he is beginning to rebel against the influence of uncle Toni, a man who has been constantly by his side for 15 years, since Rafa was just ten. And after his recent run of losses, Nadal may feel he has to overhaul his game plan for beating Djokovic.
He has hit the wall in terms of tactics and movement, and somebody with fresh ideas and a different game strategy may now be brought into his camp.
A bit surprising, no?