Tennis players are not allowed to be coached during matches per ATP Tour and grand slam rules, but “Uncle Toni” has long been advising and guiding his nephew during matches.
“Hablo con Rafel durante los partidos. Ya sé que no está muy permitido pero considero que a mi edad, tampoco tengo que esconderme,” Toni Nadal told Spanish journalist David Nadal recently.
The translation for that comment is: I talk to Rafa during matches. I know that it’s not allowed, but I think that at my age I have nothing to hide.
Toni is Rafa’s longtime coach and introduced the star to the game when his nephew was very young. He is a regular in the player’s box and there have long been complaints about him coaching his nephew during matches. At Wimbledon in 2010, Toni received a warning from the chair umpire for coaching Rafa. Roger Federer infamously complained during a match at Rome in 2006 about Toni coaching Rafa.
“He was coaching a little bit too much again today. I caught him in the act. I told him many times already, through the entire match in Monaco, but it seems like they don’t keep a close enough eye on him,” Federer said at the time.
Toni responded by saying the rule was the problem, not him.
“I think all the sports make an evolution,” he said. “It’s not natural that you pay a coach and this coach travels to Australia and to New York to watch his player and he can’t say nothing.”
Will tennis adjust the rules because they know coaches are breaking them? I doubt it. Maybe if Uncle Toni cares about being more discreet — which it seems like he doesn’t — then he could try this approach.