Rafael Nadal
Nadal will return to the ATP Tour at the Monte Carlo Masters. In this picture, Rafael Nadal of Spain looks on during a press conference to announce his retirement from the Telcel Mexican Open 2018 at Mextenis Stadium on Feb. 27, 2018, in Acapulco, Mexico. Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Toni Nadal does not travel with Rafael Nadal anymore after deciding to end their long standing coaching partnership at the end of the 2017 season, but the 16-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion’s uncle still keeps a close eye on his nephew’s progress.

Toni who was fondly known on the ATP Tour as uncle Toni traveled with Rafael since he turned pro and has been with him for all his successes thus far. They decided to end their partnership following the 2017 season with the former deciding to focus on coaching the young talent coming through at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy in their hometown Mallorca.

Carlos Moya is the 31-year-old’s head coach at the moment with the former world number traveling with the Spaniard during the course of the season. Rafael has struggled with injury since his loss at the Shanghai Masters in October last year.

He returned to action at the Australian Open in January this year, but was unable to complete the tournament due to a hip injury. Nadal retired from his quarter-final match against Maric Cilic and was expected to return after a four week absence at the Mexico Open in Acapulco.

The world number one suffered a recurrence of the hip injury just prior to the start of the event in Mexico and it was deemed to be a severe setback requiring a further four weeks of rest. He missed the Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Miami and made a comeback at the start of April when Spain took on Germany in the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup.

Moya indicated that Rafael was still not fully fit after training for just one week, but admitted a couple of wins will give his player the confidence needed to return to the ATP Tour for the start of the clay court swing of the season. The ten-time French Open winner won both his singles games, which included a straight sets win over world number four Alexander Zverev.

Uncle Toni admitted surprise with regards to Rafael's successful return, especially against Zverev, who is one of the in-form players at the moment. The German recently made the final at the Miami Open and is quite proficient on Rafael's favorite surface — clay.

The world number one’s former coach believes Rafael is in for a strong performance on the clay courts this season following his dominating performance against Zverev.

“I don't follow Rafael much in the training sessions, but I knew that he had practiced less after a very long break,” Toni Nadal said, as quoted on Tennis World USA.

“The truth is that he won against Zverev, the world no. 4, in a very clear way and it wasn't easy because the German won last year's Rome Masters, which means he plays very well on this kind of surface. The level Rafa showed in Davis Cup allows us to augur that he will have a good year on clay,” the Spaniard’s former coach added.

Rafael will be back in action when the Monte Carlo Masters commences on April 14 with the Spaniard looking to emulate last season when he won titles on clay in Monaco, Barcelona, Madrid and Paris.