Jan 15 (Reuters) - Briton Andy Murray started it. Four times Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic pulled a major surprise with his choice, while all-time great Roger Federer even has one despite years of shunning the entire coaching concept.
The trend of hiring big names is not restricted to the top top echelon of men’s players, though. Japan’s Kei Nishikori, France’s Richard Gasquet and Croatia’s Marin Cilic all have one also.
Rafa Nadal, however, is in no hurry to join them. He is quite happy with uncle Toni and will not be seeking to appoint a former grand slam winner to his coaching team.
“Seriously for me, I believe in the continuation of the things, something (that has worked for a) long time,” Nadal said as he looked ahead to his Australian Open second-round match against local hope Thanasi Kokkinakis on Thursday.
“My team is the same since I start. That is something that I am proud of.”
Toni Nadal has coached his 27-year-old nephew since he was four years old and guided the bustling left-hander to an Olympic gold medal and 13 grand slam titles - two of which came in 2013 when few wondered if Rafa’s creaky knees would ever make him a force in the game again.
Nadal now sits behind Pete Sampras (14) and Federer (17) on the all-time list of men’s grand slam singles winners and the world number one was adamant his bond with his uncle had got him to within sight of tennis immortality.
“Toni knows very well my tennis, knows very well my character,” Nadal added.
”He knows what he has to say to me in the important moments, when I am under pressure, when I am scared, when I am confident.
“Nobody knows better me than what my team knows me, because all my team knows me since long time ago.”
Murray started the trend amongst the ‘Big Four’ when he linked with eight-times grand slam winner Ivan Lendl in late 2011.
The Scot wanted to break the strangehold Federer, Nadal and Djokovic had over the men’s game - something he was able to achieve inside 12 months when he won the Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open title in 2012 before he went on to win Wimbledon in 2013.
Djokovic, bidding for his fourth successive title at Melbourne Park has six-times grand slam winner Boris Becker in his corner, while Federer, who has done without a regular coach for long periods, said Sweden’s Stefan Edberg would help him out on a part-time basis.
Despite the strength of the other members of the ‘Big Four’ and play of fifth-ranked Argentine Juan Martin del Potro - the only other man to win a grand slam title in the last five years - Nadal is convinced he has the right team behind him to achieve even greater success.
“I always believe that you are playing well, if you are playing not that well, is always your fault, not the fault of the coach,” Nadal added.
”When I was winning and when I am winning is because I am doing the right things, I am playing with the right attitude, and I know my team is the right way.
”And when I am losing, I feel the same way. It’s because I am doing something wrong, because my team is the right one.
“I really would love to finish my career with the team I have today. I will fight for that.” (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Patrick Johnston)