David Ferrer has admitted that he was surprised to hear of Toni Nadal's departure from Rafael Nadal's coaching setup from the 2018 season onwards.

The 14-time Grand Slam winner's long time coach and uncle announced post the Australian Open final that he will step down as Nadal's head coach when the ongoing campaign concludes in November. It was an unexpected announcement to say the least, which even caught the former world number one by surprise, as he was not directly informed by his uncle.

Carlos Moya will take over as Nadal's main coach, but after spending 27-years together, which yielded a total of 69 career titles and 14 Grand Slams, it likely to be a major change for the Rafael. Ferrer also claimed that the move shocked the 30-year-old, who had put his recent injury troubles behind and returned to form.

"There are some reasons behind it but I was surprised because after an injury Rafa is back to play at a great level and Toni is a fundamental piece in his game and team. There is also Carlos Moya with him," Ferrer told Canchallena La Nacion, as quoted by tennisworldusa.org. "We will see, many things can happen. They help much each other, and so Toni's comments surprised me."

Ferrer was one of the main challengers to the big four in recent years before slipping down the ranks last season. The 34-year-old failed to break their dominance and the final of the French Open in 2013 was as far as he got at a major tournament. The Spaniard has revealed one trait he admires about the Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

"About Rafa, education, about Roger, elegance, fair-play for Djokovic and about Murray, talent. And as for Ferrer... the determination," he added.