Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 10/24/14

Via Larry Brown Sports:

Toni Nadal admitted what everyone already knows: he breaks ATP Tour rules by coaching his nephew Rafael during matches.

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.

PLAYERS: Rafael Nadal
  • Not being allowed to coach in tennis matches is antiquated at best.It"s hard to think of another sport that doesn't have coaching while the players are playing. What can a coach say? Hit it to the backhand and rush the net. A coach would just reinforce what the player knows they have to do i.e. golf or boxing. No harm will come to the sport of tennis with coaching. It is already there with team tennis.
  • 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.”

    I agree that the rules need changing. It's about time that this obsolete rule be modified or even abolished. Every other sport allows a coach to advise an athlete. I also think that it's time to revise the scoring. If you want to continue to see an improvement in performance, as well as audience participation, the rules need to be improved.
  • Its a terrible response to being caught breaking the current rules of the sport-claiming the rules are wrong-while other players are held to them as well. This speaks volumes to the possibility that there is some truth to accusations that Rafa's camp has worked with the same people responsible for illegal doping with Lance Armstrong, since Toni apparently decides which rules he wants to follow and which he feels he doesn't.

    Regarding the rule itself, isn't there something wonderfully unique to the sport in having a player by themselves struggling through the ups and downs of a match and figuring out ways themselves to get out of a jam (rather than constant chalk talks with a coach using numbers and statistics and turning the game into a football style running of patterns and the player into nothing more than an unthinking workhorse)?
    I suppose you could argue a coach might improve performance, but the mental fight is so integral to the game-be a shame to remove it from the player and give it entirely to a coach on the sidelines.
  • Im sorry , what was the question ? (yawn)
  • This is horrible. A rule is a rule and in sports we all know it extremely important to keep the competition healthy. What can be said of those who cheat? They are undeserving and cannot play by the rules and should not be allowed to play the game. Plain and simple this guy should have been banned at least from the venues where Nadal plays.

    What a cheater.. He makes Raphael look like a cheater - has this kids had an unfair advantage because of this? clearly the rules apply to all who play professional tennis so perhaps uncle Tony should stay home in Malta..

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