Toni Nadal, uncle and coach of Spanish player Rafael, has admitted being surprised over his country’s appointment of Gala Leon as their Davis Cup captain.
Leon is the first female to ever be appointed as a team captain in the history of the competition, and it follows Andy Murray’s left-field appointment of a female in June, when he decided to make Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo his new coach.
It has been a difficult year for Spain in the Davis Cup, having been knocked out 4-1 in the first round of the competition by Germany, before losing a World Group Play-off tie 3-1 away to Brazil earlier in September, which was followed by Carlos Moya’s decision to leave his position as captain.
Toni has not had any previous contact with Leon, who faces an uphill battle to take Spain back into the World Group, as they will have to win a Europe/Africa Group I tie in July 2015 before having another chance to play in a World Group Play-off.
He also expressed fear for what the former WTA Tour player’s involvement will do to the team.
The 53-year-old said in an interview with Spanish radio: “Leon's appointment could create problems "at dressing room level.
"I have had zero relations with Gala Leon and I believe Rafa Nadal also zero, he has never mentioned it to me.
"But it doesn't matter, I have never spoken to her but that doesn't mean anything.”
The Mallorcan coach went on to question why the role was not given to former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, who had expressed an interest in taking up the position.
"It would seem to be more normal if the captain had been someone like Juan Carlos Ferrero, or some ex-player of a certain level, which is what has happened recently."
Davis Cup break
Playing in the Davis Cup is something that neither Toni or his nephew have had to worry about in 2014, as Rafael’s last match for his nation came in a 2013 Play-off home tie against Ukraine in Madrid, where he beat Sergiy Stakhovsky in three sets on the way to a 5-0 whitewash.
But the 14-time Grand Slam winner was not able to commit himself to the competition this year, and Moya cited a lack of availability of his most talented players as one of the reasons for his resignation after less than a year in charge, even though it was a wrist injury that prevented Nadal from travelling to Brazil.
World number five David Ferrer was also missing from that tie, as were other top 30 players Feliciano Lopez, Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro, and it was left up to Spanish number three Roberto Bautista Agut and number nine Pablo Andujar to contest the singles rubbers.
The fact that Spain have 10 male players in the top 50 of the world rankings shows how surprising it is that they will not be in the World Group in 2015.
Spain have fallen a long way since winning three titles in four years between 2008 and 2011, with Rafael playing a part in the 2009 and 2011 finals.