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Rafael Nadal's cousin Joan Nadal Vives to make pro debut at ITF World Tour event in Spain

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
Modified 04 Jan 2021, 10:43 IST

Joan Nadal Vives, the 16-year-old cousin of 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, will make his debut on the ITF World Tour this week.

Joan Nadal Vives is one of the sons of Toni Nadal, the uncle and former coach of Rafael Nadal. Toni worked with the 13-time French Open champion right from the latter's early childhood up to early 2017.

Nadal Vives is scheduled to play the qualifying draw at this week's ITF M15, which is being held in Manacor (at the Rafa Nadal Academy). He will meet Tunisia's Kuzey Cekirge, ranked No. 1312 in the world, in the qualifying first round.

Nadal Vives has competed in only one junior event so far - the J3 Manacor event in February 2020. The teenager lost in the first round of the qualifying draw there.

Toni Nadal's incredible impact on the career and success of Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal with his uncle Toni Nadal
Rafael Nadal with his uncle Toni Nadal

Given that Toni Nadal has perhaps been the single most influential figure in the career of Rafael Nadal, a lot of eyes - including those of the World No. 2 himself - would be on Joan Nadal Vives' career.

Rafael Nadal won 16 Grand Slam titles while working with Toni, making the latter one of the most successful coaches in tennis history. The 13-time French Open champion has often spoken about how his character and never-say-die attitude were shaped early on due to the training of uncle Toni.

In fact, the 59-year-old has himself admitted that he was too demanding of Rafael Nadal when he was a youngster.

"I think it was more difficult for Rafael to train with me than [to] play the European championship," Toni Nadal had once said. "That daily requirement is what I think has led him to develop his conditions to the maximum. Evidently he has become number one thanks to his effort, thanks to his talent, but also thanks to working with great commitment every day."

Since leaving his coaching duties, Toni Nadal has been working as the the Director at the Rafa Nadal Academy. He believes there is nothing more he can teach his nephew, and that mentoring younger kids at the academy would be a better use of his time.

"No (I don’t miss him), I was very lucky to train a great player who is also my nephew,” Toni had explained earlier. “I enjoyed that and I feel grateful for it too. But I like to train children, like now at the academy in Manacor, because I have the feeling that I can give them more than my nephew."

The two continue to remain close even after going their separate ways professionally. It will be interesting to see whether Toni's son continues in the same vein and becomes a successful pro too.

Published 04 Jan 2021, 10:43 IST
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