Nadal’s most significant title this year was the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters.
Rafael Nadal has endured a poor 2016 campaign, and so have his fans. One cannot really ignore the fact that Nadal seemed well past his prime during the season, be it the injuries or the confidence. We certainly haven’t seen Nadal in such a state. Nadal lost to Lucas Pouille in the US Open, thus failing to clear the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2004. This also marked his second consecutive year without winning a major.
The wrist injury clearly affected his performance especially after the Olympics. But all doesn’t seem to be over for Rafa’s fans, since Nadal has brought in clay court great, Carlos Moya, into his coaching team, alongside longtime coach and uncle, Toni.
With a successful coaching stint with Milos Raonic of Canada, Moya (above) will seek to earn Nadal his former glory.
Moya had a successful coaching stint with Milos Raonic of Canada, who has risen up the ranking ladder. Carlos will look to strike the right chords with Nadal and his team. As an experienced clay court specialist, Moya is going to be the celebrity coach to look out for this year.
Nadal’s first task next season is definitely going to be challenging the rest of the Big 4. With Federer also making a comeback, and Djokovic and Murray establishing themselves as the best in the world, Rafa has his work cut out for him. He has to raise his game, and improve on the mental strength that he is known for, to stand a chance against the rest. Moya, who retired in 2010 himself, has a fair bit of experience as he himself has faced some of Nadal’s challengers.
Nadal’s next task is going to be to win more titles, regardless of their importance. Be it an ATP 250 title, an ATP 500, Masters or Grand Slam, Nadal has to make deep runs in the tournaments in order to improve/ preserve rankings. This can be highlighted from his recent ouster from the Top 5, a place he used to rule less than three years ago. It’s a place where he belongs, and hopefully, with a good tennis season, and a specific gameplan by Moya, Nadal can achieve he has always longed for and enjoyed.
Nadal- Moya partnership:
In order to do so, the ‘King of Clay’ must establish his dominance on clay, which is something that has been lacking over the past couple of years. With just a couple of clay titles this season, Nadal’s dominance seems to be diminishing. But any effort in re-establishing it, would work wonders, and make him the omnipresent threat that he is, especially under the guidance of the clay specialist Moya.
There are various problems Nadal needs to overcome to become successful once again. It begins with the mind, one that gets back the fighting spirit in him, and gives him a much more confident relaxed approach. And for this job, Moya seems perfect. Toni as usual focuses much on the gameplan, and must continue to do so.
With just a few more years left in his career, all one can hope for as a fan is to see the best of Nadal. With the end of the ‘Fedal’ Era approaching, and as the baton is passed on to his juniors, Rafa will have to roll back time, in order to extend his stay. The Moya partnership certainly has its advantages, but without the determined Nadal we know, the partnership may bear no fruit. Let’s just hope that ‘Vintage Nadal’ gets back to winning ways.