Felix Auger-Aliassime hires Rafael Nadal’s uncle Toni as new coach

Auger-Aliassime will work with Toni Nadal (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Felix Auger-Aliassime has confirmed that Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni Nadal has joined his team ahead of the clay-court season.

News broke in Spain that Uncle Toni, who stopped working with his nephew at the end of 2017, would team up with the 20-year-old Canadian earlier on Thursday.

Auger-Aliassime, 20, is one of the hottest prospects in men’s tennis and has peaked at a career-high ranking of world No. 17. He currently lies five places shy of that in the ATP leaderboard.

Confirming the news to his social media following, Auger-Aliassime wrote: ‘Welcome aboard Toni.’

It’s possible that Rafael Nadal could face off against his uncle’s new charge next week, when they will both be part of the field at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Uncle Toni made it clear just how highly he rates Auger-Aliassime, telling Marca: ‘I have special affection for my nephew but if he were to lose to someone let it be Felix.

‘I don’t stop being Rafael’s uncle… Let’s hope that in the future Felix will be number one in the world. For now, he has to improve.

‘I could not work with someone who was not respectful and did not have values. I was lucky to work with a kid [Nadal] who was respectful and set a good example.

‘I expect the same. Felix is a youngster who should, in theory, be among the best in world in coming years.’

Toni Nadal has been added to the coaching team alongside current coach Federic Fontang.

While Auger-Aliassime has done well to rise up the rankings, he is yet to win an ATP title, despite reaching seven finals.

He has reached finals on all of the tour’s surfaces – both indoor and outdoor hard, grass and clay.

In his most recent final, he was beaten in straight sets by British No. 1 Dan Evans in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.

Perhaps more disappointingly, the 20-year-old is yet to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam.

He led qualifier Aslan Karatsev by two sets to love in the fourth round of the Australian Open this year before losing in five.

Musetti downed Evans (Picture: Getty Images)

Improvement can be expected at the postponed French Open later this month. Auger-Aliassime has yet to go beyond the first round at Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, there was an agonising defeat for top-ranked Brit Evans in Cagliari against talented Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

Evans was blown away in the first set by the 19-year-old – who is widely tipped to be one of the stars of the clay-cout season – but clawed his way back into the match.

However, he failed to convert four match points in a dramatic final-set tiebreak and went down 6-1 1-6 7-6 (10-8).

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