KEY POINTS

  • Toni Nadal picks Messi as the best athlete of all time
  • He also says Nadal has another 3 to 4 years left
  • Nadal and Uncle Toni parted ways in 2017

Toni Nadal, uncle and former coach of tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, has picked “the best athlete of all time” and it is not his nephew.

According to Nadal Sr, FC Barcelona skipper Lionel Messi is way ahead of everyone, including tennis great duo of Nadal and Roger Federer, in being the best athlete in the world.

“When Federer, Djokovic and Nadal play well, they logically win, and when they play badly, they also win. What Messi does, I've never seen anyone do before. My children are huge fans of his and they're always showing me videos. He's the best athlete of all time," Uncle Toni said in an interview with Super Deportivo's radio program on Argentina's Radio Villa Trinidad.

Even if Toni has chosen Messi ahead of the tennis legends, he has always heaped praise on Federer and this time was no different.

“I think that both of them did a good thing for the sport. I do not conceive rivalries beyond the field. I do not conceive hatred of the rival. I believe that Rafa and Federer put into practice the essence of the sport that it is about having the maximum rivalry on the track, but when the game is over, everything is over," added Toni.

Toni, who is Nadal’s father’s brother, coached the former World No. 1 for 27 years and no player in the history of tennis has had the same coach for such a long time.

Rafael Nadal, Toni Nadal Rafael Nadal, pictured here at the 2014 French Open, is back in training with uncle Toni preparing for the 2015 season. Photo: Reuters

While speaking about the 19-time Grand Slam winner, Toni has claimed that Nadal can play for another three or four years more.

The longevity of Nadal and Federer’s careers is already breaking records as the legendary pair looks in no mood to give up any time soon. Even though they are in their 30s, every time they come to the court, there is a fresh sense of enthusiasm and love for the game. Toni believes if Nadal avoids any more injuries, he still has a lot of tennis left in him.

“Rafael can have 3 or 4 years of tennis easy, as long as the injuries respect him, he feels motivated and with the conviction of continuing to win. I would not imagine Rafael being on the circuit and playing to play, and that it doesn't matter if he loses than if he wins,” Toni added further.

When asked about Federer’s career, Uncle Toni replied, "Why does Federer keep playing? Because he knows he can still win important titles.”