Toni Nadal spent over two decades coaching his nephew and current world number one Rafael Nadal. He is the most successful coach in the history of tennis having led the Spaniard to all his 16 men’s singles Grand Slam titles.

Nadal senior announced in February last year that the 2017 season will be his last as Nadal’s head coach, with Carlos Moya taking over the duties from the start of the 2018 campaign. It came as a surprise to many including the world number one, who was not aware of his uncle’s decision to step down until it was revealed in the news.

Uncle Toni as he was fondly known on the ATP Tour now concentrates his work at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy based in Mallorca, Spain. He is helping nurture the young talent coming through at the academy, but continued to keep a close eye on his nephew’s progress.

Nadal’s rival Novak Djokovic recently split with coach Andre Agassi before reuniting with former coach Marian Vajda with whom he split after almost a decade together in 2017. The Spaniard’s uncle, currently working in the academy, was asked if he would ever consider working with the Serbian, should he make an approach. 

The 57-year-old coach believes it is unlikely that it will happen, but admitted that if it has to happen Djokovic will have to stop competing against Nadal on the tour. The world number one’s former coach also spoke about the difficulty of coaching the younger generation of players, while comparing the Serb to European football giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are considered to be among the cream of the crop in European football.

“It won't happen,” Toni said about the possibility of coaching Djokovic, as quoted on Tennis World USA. “But it's difficult to tell no to Djokovic. He is a number one. If he is an educated person and would not compete with my nephew, I would be delighted to follow him in a tournament. The thing is that the world has changed.”

“It's complicated to work correctly with younger people. Before we were living in a society where you respected the older people. Now, I am not at an age where I can be behind a kid who behaves badly. Anyway, coaching Djokovic would be like coaching Barça or Madrid.”

Uncle Toni also spoke about Nadal’s style of play, which is unlike Federer's — smooth and stylish. It is more power based with lots of top spin. The 16-time Grand Slam winner’s coach revealed that his nephew was forced to choose his style to have an advantage over his rivals during his younger days and it stuck with him throughout his career.

However, Nadal’s former coach has revealed he prefers Federer’s style of play rather than the 10-time French Open winner.

“I always liked the shots hit normally, the classic style,” Nadal senior said. “Rafael started to hit like this as a kid. He needed to do it to beat his rivals, who were older and higher. He was 12 years old and was playing against 15-year-olds.”

“(This game) helped him to win titles. But I never defended it. I like the classic style. If I could choose, I would prefer Rafael to hit like Federer.”