Tennis

Young players lack maturity, says Nadal's uncle

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are still dominating men's tennis despite being in their 30s because the younger players coming through are too immature.

That observation came from the Spaniard's uncle, Toni, who recently ended a 12-year tenure as his nephew's coach.

Since Nadal won his first Major - the French Open - as an 18-year-old in 2005, only six other men's tennis players have won Grand Slams.

They are Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic.

Toni believes they could do it because of their ability to focus and willingness to make sacrifices, attributes which are found wanting in younger players.

He told Spanish newspaper El Mundo: "Nadal, Federer and Djokovic won 47 Grand Slam titles combined. The generation that was supposed to take over wasn't good enough.

"That's the reflection of society we live in, which is ultra protective with kids.

"When we came to the tour, the best players were aged 21-23.Now, at this age, most of them on the tour haven't come of age yet. Why?

"Because kids (these days) are more immature and they struggle to develop."

Nadal and Federer both overcame injury setbacks to share this year's Grand Slam titles between them. Nadal, 31, also became the oldest player to finish the year as No. 1, with the 36-year-old Swiss just behind him.

Federer (19) and Nadal (16) also have the most number of Grand Slam victories.

Toni added: "For Federer, despite his age and all that he's won, tennis continues to be a priority. The same can be said for Rafa, despite all his injuries.

"There have always been very good players, but this generation may have been more committed."

In his uncle's absence, Nadal, who will be playing at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships from Dec 29-30, will have Carlos Moya and Francois Roig as coaches. - WIRE SERVICES

Tennis