US Open 2017

'He'll always find a new challenge': Carlos Moya backs Rafael Nadal to stay hungry for titles

The Spanish coach felt that it was the 16-time Grand Slam winner’s resilience, despite his age and injuries, that set him apart.

Carlos Moya has watched fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal from close quarters for a long time now. But it is only when he joined Nadal’s coaching team ahead of the 2017 season did he see the extent of the Mallorcan’s dedication to the game.

In 2016, injury forced Nadal to miss a large chunk of the year. However, he has bounced back in 2017 reaching the finals of three Grand Slams, winning two of them and regaining the world No 1 position. His season has been so prolific, that Moya is confident that injuries or not, Nadal is going to be on top for a while.

“Now, nothing will surprise me anymore. He always gives the best of himself. We are talking about one of the greatest players in history and, as such, my faith in him is rock solid.” Moya told the ATP website after Nadal’s US Open-winning run in New York.

“When I joined the team I knew that there was much more to come for Rafa, that if he stayed injury free and continued training with the same motivation, desire and confidence, that the tennis would come. And in any case, we are talking about a legend, so the victories always come sooner or later,” added Moya, a former world No 1 himself.

The victories did come, with Nadal finishing as the runner-up at the Australian Open and Miami Masters before going on a rampaging run through the clay season. He won an unprecedented tenth title at Monte Carlo, before winning “La Decima” or his record tenth French Open title. He won the Madrid Open and Barcelona Open as well. While his grass court season was ordinary, he went on to win the season-ending US Open for his 16th Grand Slam trophy.

Talking about why he sees the 31-year-old continuing his dominance, Moya said that it’s Nadal’s resilience despite his age and injuries that sets him apart.

“He is a player who broke records as a teenager and who is now breaking them as a veteran as well. This is something we haven’t see much in the history of tennis. People talk about how physical tennis is, but here he is at 31 winning two Grand Slams, right behind Federer. We mustn’t underestimate his talent, his ability to improve, to analyse things. For me, there is no reason to think he can’t spend many more years on Tour,” said Moya.

Talking about motivation, the former French Open champion admitted that there aren’t many challenges left for the prolific Spaniard. However, lack of motivation is not something that bother Nadal.

“Someone who has achieved so much will always find a new challenge. There aren’t many challenges left, but there are some. He is a very competitive person, a very demanding person and that helps a lot. He will keep finding motivation and his biggest motivation will be to keep improving, keep evolving, stay competitive and he knows that if he can do that, the options to win tournaments and fight at the top will be there,” he added.

Well, there is the ATP World Tour Finals, a trophy he is yet to win despite reaching the final twice. On current form, it’ll be hard to count him out to complete the set.

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