When Toni Nadal stepped down from the coaching position, his nephew Rafa had no doubts about the next person in his coaching staff. Nadal picked his friend Carlos Moya, who has led him towards numerous successes in the last couple of years, knowing Nadal better than anyone and drawing the best from him.
Nadal and Moya come from Manacor, and they have known each other for over 20 years, with the more experienced Spaniard helping his young compatriot in his first years on the Tour. The 16-year-old Rafael Nadal needed only three months to make a name for himself at the beginning of 2003, entering the season from just outside the top-200 and reaching four Challenger finals by the end of March.
The Spaniard lost the first three before claiming the maiden title in Barletta that gave him momentum ahead of Monte Carlo. The youngster qualified for the main draw, making his Masters 1000 debut and stunning the reigning Roland Garros champion Albert Costa!
Rafa scored two victories in Hamburg in May and reached the Aix En Provence Challenger final before suffering an injury that forced him to skip Roland Garros and pre-Wimbledon events on grass. Returning stronger at the All England Club, the Manacor native made an impressive Major debut and reached the third round as one of the youngest players alongside Boris Becker and Mats Wilander.
Rafael Nadal spoke about Carlos Moya at the US Open 2003.
Returning to his beloved clay in July, Rafa advanced into the quarter-final in Bastad and the semi-final in Umag before winning another Challenger crown at home in Segovia.
The youngster skipped the next three weeks before making the US Open debut as the top-50 player. Nadal beat the compatriot Fernando Vicente 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round for a perfect start, repelling all three break chances and converting four out of 18 opportunities on the return to move over the top.
After the match, Rafa praised his future coach Carlos Moya, saying he is always there for him. "My goal here is to play match by match, especially after not competing for three weeks. I also want to improve my serve and volley in the upcoming months.
Working with a better-ranked player helps, and Carlos Moya was always there to help me; we come from a small place, and we are very close," Rafael Nadal said.