Felix Auger-Aliassime has confirmed he will work with Toni Nadal for the European clay court season, in the run up to the French Open.
The highly-rated young Canadian is linking up with Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach from next week’s Monte Carlo Masters, as he attempts to improve his game on the surface.
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Nadal stopped working on tour with his nephew at the end of 2017, but has been running the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s academy on his behalf ever since.
The pair won ‘La Decima’ of 10 Roland Garros titles together, and Auger-Aliassime is turning to Toni for inspiration having failed to get past the first round on his only appearance at the tournament last year, though he is a former junior runner-up.
The world number 22 will continue to be coached full-time by Frederic Fontang, but says Nadal will add something extra to his team.
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I sat down with Fred and my team and parents and I thought to myself it would be good to go to someone who has been at the highest level of our sport, who has been to where I want to go.
"Really it's gaining advice and experience and just working on a day to day to become a better player. I know there's no secret tool or recipe or that you just click your fingers and things work out."
Toni says he did not plan on returning to the tour to work with any player other than his nephew.
"For me it's a wonderful thing to work with a guy like Felix, first a very educated player, a player that can become one of the best players in the world and become a champion in big tournaments", he said.
I could not work with someone unless they are respectful, and have good values because I had the luck to work all my life with a kid that was very respectful and gave a very good image wherever he went.
"Now I have the possibility to work with a guy who believes in the same, to improve, work hard every day."
What if Auger-Aliassime gets drawn against Rafa, though? Whose corner would Toni, always so passionate about his support for his nephew, be in then?
"If (Rafa) has to lose to someone then I would rather him lose to Felix," he said. "I'm still his uncle and have many years of involvement with him.
I hope Felix will be number one in the future. For now he needs to keep improving and I keep being Rafa's uncle.
The Monte Carlo Masters begins on April 11.
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