No nostalgia at final French Open, says Toni Nadal

Rafael Nadal (Getty)
Rafael Nadal (Getty)

Paris - Toni Nadal, the uncle and long-time coach of record nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, says he doesn't feel a sense of nostalgia at his final Roland Garros.

The 56-year-old is working in tandem with former world number one Carlos Moya as part of Nadal's coaching team in Paris where the Spaniard is hunting an incredible 10th title.

But the elder Nadal will step down from his role at the end of the season after more than 25 years of coaching his nephew.

"Zero, I do not feel anything at all, I'll feel it next year when I see the tournament from home, so maybe I'll think 'I was in Paris last year,'" Toni told AFP on Thursday.

"I'm not going to think about it anymore. I was fortunate to live incredible experiences here, but I'm not a person who dwells on things."

Toni cited the demands of travelling on tour as the reason for the change and will oversee coaching at Rafael's tennis academy on his home island of Mallorca.

The Nadals have enjoyed one of the longest and most successful coaching relationships in the history of tennis.

Nadal has won 14 Grand Slams under the tutelage of his uncle, tying Pete Sampras for the second most in history behind Roger Federer's 18.

His last major triumph came at Roland Garros in 2014, but the fourth seed, who turns 31 on Saturday, is near his unbeatable best on clay this season.

Titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid catapulted Nadal back into the spotlight and underlined his billing as the favourite for another French Open crown.

But Toni put his own impending departure into perspective, insisting Rafael would have achieved his recent success with or without his uncle in his camp.

"Rafael would have done just as well this year had he told me that we were finished," said Toni. "Things are never definitive and nor do they change life completely."

Moya, who will take over as Nadal's main coach for 2018 having joined his team back in December, spoke of his desire to keep expectations in Paris in check.

And Toni echoed the 1998 French Open winner's sentiments, stressing his goal was to simply leave Nadal with the best chance of success.

"Never once have I thought here if we're going to win the eighth title, the ninth or the tenth Roland Garros," said Toni.

"I focus on the tournament and on hoping we can make Nadal be able to win again."

However Toni didn't completely rule out a return to Roland Garros one day with another player.

"Hopefully I will be able to come back in the future with my son, but I don't think it will happen, or with someone from the academy.

"I would like to help a player from there reach the top, but I'm also excited about daily work and many other things in life."

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England 92/4 (28 ov)
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