For Rafael Nadal, family is everything.
So when Nadal takes on Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round of Roland Garros on Sunday, he won’t worry if his uncle, Toni Nadal, is sitting in the stands in his new role as Auger-Aliassime’s coach.
“I already spoke with Toni after my match,” Nadal said on Friday, after beating Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. “For me it’s very simple. He’s my uncle. I don’t think he could want me to lose, no doubt, but he’s a professional and he’s with another player.”
It’s the first time Nadal has faced Auger-Aliassime since his uncle started coaching the Canada native.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, whether he’s going to stay in the box or not, but I don’t care. I have no problem with that. So it’s not a story for me at all. .
“I know what feelings [are] that we have between us. I know he wants the best for me. Now he helps another player. But honestly, for me it’s not a problem, and I know he wants the best for me.”
Toni Nadal has been instrumental in his nephew’s career, alongside him for 14 of his record Grand Slam titles, including nine of his 13 Roland-Garros crowns. In 2016, Toni retired from touring to work as a head coach at the Rafael Nadal Academy in Mallorca. He was replaced by Carlos Moya, the former world No. 1, who remains his coach.
Nadal said his uncle didn’t need to ask him if he should coach Auger-Aliassime and that whatever happened on Sunday, nothing would change between them.
“For me, I can’t thank enough for everything he’s done for me for so many years,” he said. “I have no problem with any position he’s in. I want the best for him, and he wants the best for me.
“We are a family more than anything. Not just a family, we are a family that we stay together all the time. We are in the same village. We spend time at the academy together. We have experienced emotions amazing together.
“He’s not just an uncle. He’s more than that.”