'My favorite memory with Rafael Nadal is...', says top coach

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'My favorite memory with Rafael Nadal is...', says top coach

Rafael Nadal has returned from a very difficult season, in which he had to deal with a serious foot problem. Suffice it to say that the Spanish phenomenon played just seven official tournaments in 2021, collecting a couple of trophies on the beloved clay.

The former world number 1 was unable to grab his 14th Roland Garros, losing to eternal rival Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Relentless foot pain forced Rafa to miss Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open. After undergoing a little treatment, the 35-year-old from Manacor resumed training with the aim of surprising everyone once again.

The Iberian is still unbeaten in 2022, having won the Melbourne ATP 250 before the Australian Open. The Majorcan reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park, where he triumphed only once back in 2009. Now awaiting him is Denis Shapovalov, who ousted Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

Shortly before the start of the new season, Nadal announced that he had added Marc Lopez to his team. In a long interview for the ATP website, Lopez revealed some details of his relationship with Rafael.

Marc Lopez talks about Nadal

"I’ve shared many moments with Rafael Nadal, but as a friend.

Now it’s different. I found it a bit difficult to give instructions to a player who is close to perfection. Although I always say that from the outside, there are things that can be improved," Lopez said. "I know Rafa very well.

I’ve been watching his matches for many years and I know what he’s thinking when he plays. I feel obliged to tell him things because I want the best for him." The most notable achievement of Lopez's career was a doubles gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, which he won with Nadal as his partner.

"My favorite memory with Nadal is the Olympic gold medal. Rafa made a huge effort to play in both disciplines, and he put his trust in me. People don’t realize, but all the tennis players were in one apartment," Lopez said.

"I slept in a room with Rafa with two small beds. It was really amazing, two intense weeks that ended perfectly with that gold medal." Rafael Nadal entered the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 14th time, after a tricky fourth-round clash with Adrian Mannarino.

He won the first set 7-6(14) in a tie-breaker which lasted 28 minutes and 40 seconds. This set saw him scrambling to establish dominance, having to save four set points and missing 6 of his own. “But, yeah, [it was] a crazy one, chances for both. And, yeah, lucky to win that tie-break at the end, no?” Rafa said, ever-so humble.