With his only half-expected early ouster at the US Open, will 14-time major winner Rafa Nadal finally switch coaches? John McEnroe, whose praise for Nadal is always unstinting, thinks it may be time — if it wasn’t time a while ago. Much of the talk around Rafa Nadal since July has centered not on the player himself but his uncle Toni. Toni Nadal, brother of Spanish football star and longtime Rafa coach, is the only coach Rafa Nadal has ever had. McEnroe and others think Rafa could benefit from a change.
But Nadal’s fall to No. 8 in the world rankings before entering the US Open — a number which will not rise after his third round loss — has far more to do with his recent physical problems than his coaching. Nadal hasn’t been able to prepare as he once did. Now even if he’s physically ready come match time, the swagger and confidence that fueled him in the past isn’t there — because his physical limitations curtail his preparation time. That’s something any coach will have to deal with. McEnroe mentioned how Roger Federer has benefited from having various coaches over time — and who can say what Federer’s doing isn’t working? But there was also cautionary tale in Arthur Ashe Stadium during Nadal’s loss. Watching was Tiger Woods, a man who has switched coaches and changed his game numerous times — and whose reward for all those changes has been a drop from World No. 1 to World No. 266. As with Nadal, physical problems are probably the primary culprit with Woods. But a change in coaches didn’t reverse it.