Nadal not in favour of female coach
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Rafael Nadal’s coach criticised the appointment of a woman as the captain of Spain’s Davis Cup team yesterday, arguing there are substantial differences between the men’s and women’s games.
His comments have been labelled sexist by Spain’s leading political parties, and go against both the backing which the decision has received from others in tennis and also the history of the sport in the Mediterranean country.
Gala Leon, a former WTA player, became the first woman to be appointed captain of the country’s Davis Cup team on Sunday, replacing Carlos Moya.
“It is preferable that (the captain) is someone with a background in the world of men’s tennis,” Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal’s coach and uncle, told Onda Cero radio.
“I have nothing against her, I don’t know what her capabilities are, and I hope she does her job well, but in theory she is a person that doesn’t know men’s tennis, because men’s tennis isn’t the same as women’s tennis.
“The truth is that the men’s game isn’t the same as the women’s game on the tactical level, not that one is better than the other.”
Toni Nadal said he would have agreed with the decision if “you could tell me that she had spent 10 years coaching” on the men’s circuit. He added that he had expected the job to go to a former men’s player, such as Juan Carlos Ferrero, to continue the recent line of Albert Costa, Alex Corretja and Moya.
The 40-year-old Leon said that she was prepared for the job at her presentation later yesterday.
“I am not here to create a debate over sexism, rather to help Spain win the Davis Cup again,” Leon said.
And as for possible awkward moments in the changing room, Leon joked that she “would control herself”.
“That’s not going to be a problem,” she said. “You just knock.”
Regular Davis Cup member Feliciano Lopez defended Toni Nadal from charges of sexism, but said that he and the other players would adapt to having a woman as a coach.
“What Tony wanted to say is that it would be strange having a woman in the changing room, but that won’t be a problem since it will only mean getting used to it, just like when men coach women’s teams,” Lopez told Spanish state television.
Andy Murray, who is coached by Amelie Mauresmo, was one of the first to congratulate Leon with a tweet on Monday.
International Tennis Federation vice president Juan Margets also congratulated Leon in a letter, according to the Spanish tennis federation.