Rafa Nadal is a “creature of habit” and was “caught off guard” by his uncle Toni’s decision to part ways after one of the longest and most successful coaching relationships in Tennis, believes Peter Fleming.
Toni made the decision to leave his nephew’s side prior to the Australian Open, where Nadal lost to Roger Federer in an epic final.
The 55-year-old will be aiming to scale back by the end of the season before overseeing coaching at Rafael’s tennis academy on his home island of Mallorca.
“I think it’s pretty logical really. I think it’s Toni who has basically said that a year from now he’s not going to coach Rafa because he wants to spend his time running the academy that he and Rafa had set up in Mallorca,” Fleming told Sky Sports News HQ.
“If you were coaching someone for 27 years, don’t you think you’d want to broaden your horizons just a little bit – it’s natural.
“Rafa is a creature of habit – he needs structure – and I do think that he was caught off guard when Toni said ‘I’m not doing this next year’. I think Rafa probably took a little time to get accustomed to it but it’s an opportunity for growth.
“Carlos Moya, who grew up in Mallorca, and was Rafa’s idol growing up as a kid is now in the team as his coach and Francisco Roig has been there for many years on a part-time basis.
“It’s not like Toni’s job is really crucial to the team – I think it will be fine.”
Nadal, 30, is having to manage his schedule after suffering a number of career-threatening injuries over the past few years.
The Spaniard is due to play at the Acapulco Open in Mexico, live on Sky Sports, later in February and Fleming insists that Nadal has “been a genius at being able to manage his schedule”.
“Rafa has had more than his fair share of injuries over the past couple of years and I’m sure as well as he played in Australia – and that performance was as big a surprise as Roger winning – I think is incredible because he came a long way back.
“It certainly looked as though he was going to struggle to win another major a year or two ago, but he’s right back in the mix.”