In an interview to ATP Es, Rafael Nadal's coach Carlos Moya commented on how big of a threat Novak Djokovic can be on clay. The Serb didn't deliver his top level in Indian Wells and Miami and he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals in Montecarlo.
"He beat Rafa in his best times", said Moya. "If he plays well, if he is at the level showed at the Australian Open, he is a player who aspires to everything too. He has not a real clay-court game because he fits to all the surfaces.
His gamestyle barely changes from one surface to the other. On clay he may give a bit of breath, he takes more risks but he won the French Open and a lot of clay tournaments. He is perfectly able to play on the surface."
On Dominic Thiem, Moya added: "His game fits clay the most, with Rafa. He is the best specialist. He hurts because he is a great player. He is very powerful, hits very strong. He is improving every year and you will have to look at him.
Nadal usually did well with one-handed backhand players, but in Thiem's case, that's an important weapon that was useful to beat Rafa several times on clay. In the last two years, he was the only one who defeated Nadal on clay."
In a press conference at the Monte Carlo Nadal recalled when at 16 years of age he defeated the then French Open defending champion Albert Costa in 2003. The Spaniard said that at the time the Next Generation players were not promoted too much.
"Over all these years, the ATP PR Nicola Arzani increased his imagination and all the promotions, so at that moment we needed to found our personal promotion. ATP doesn't support that much like today that everything is NextGen, no? No.
Jokes. (Laughter.) I was 16. The first match on the main draw, of course, I remember against Kucera. The first match on the qualifier, I am not sure", said Nadal. "I play against I think Kolarov (phonetic) or something like this in the second round of qualies or first round.
I can't remember that sorry. And against Albert Costa, of course, I remember the match very well. It was late. At the beginning I think he felt confident that at the beginning he was dominating me, but at some point the match end, you get closer, and probably is not easy to play against a very young player like I was in that moment, and he was a little bit more nervous. I played a good match, and I was able to find a way."