‘Good old competive Rafael Nadal – that was our goal,’ his coach recalls

Struggling with injuries, Rafael Nadal lost steam after Roland Garros 2014, sidelined from the Major battles for two and a half years. Adding Carlos Moya to his coaching staff, Rafa made a fresh start in 2017. The Spaniard won six titles and claimed Major crowns at Roland Garros and the US Open to get back where he belonged in style. Rafa returned to the top-2 after Roland Garros, conquered the ATP throne ahead of the US Open and cemented his lead over the rest of the field with the third New York trophy. Nadal was a player to beat alongside Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in 2018 and 2019, staying competitive in the GOAT race and adding the 20th Major to his tally in October 2020 following his 13th Roland Garros crown. It was Rafa’s most challenging title in Paris, competing only for the second time since February and in entirely different conditions from regular ones in May and June.

Rafael Nadal claimed his 20th Major crown at 2020 Roland Garros.

Nadal had to beat the Parisian cold and rainy weather alongside seven opponents, the new Wilson balls and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier. He passed all those obstacles to claim the title without dropping a set at 34! In February of that year, Nadal won the title in Acapulco and stayed at home in Mallorca for the next six months before returning to action in Rome in September. Rafa did not pick a racquet in March and April, taking a little break from tennis and hitting the practice court in May. Soon, he decided to skip Cincinnati and the US Open, working on clay and defending the Roland Garros title to join Roger Federer on 20 Majors. Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya admitted they had to deal with many issues after an extended break, giving their best to bring back the old competitive Rafa. Gradually, they achieved that just in time for Paris, where Nadal competed at a high level. The Spaniard never lost a set during the fortnight and toppled Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the title clash to write another chapter of tennis history books. 

“We have achieved our basic goal, bringing back the good old Rafa – a competitive one who enjoys playing tennis. People who do not see the day-to-day are unaware of what all those months had been like. They had not been easy at all. In addition to his head, we had to deal with the situation that has affected everyone since February or March and improve his physical strength,” Carlos Moya said.