When Rafael Nadal picked his coach Carlos Moya as favorite player at 16



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When Rafael Nadal picked his coach Carlos Moya as favorite player at 16

Rafael Nadal has been working with his good friend Carlos Moya since 2017. Carlos replaced Toni as Rafa's coach, bringing necessary improvements to his game and making him as competitive as ever at 36. Nadal has known Moya since making his first tennis steps, watching Moya's matches and hoping to become the world's best player one day, just like his favorite player.

The 16-year-old Nadal was ready to rumble in 2003 after gaining many places on the ATP ranking list in the previous year. Rafa passed over 500 rivals at such a young age and wished for more during 2003. The Manacor native lost three finals at the beginning of the year before winning the first Challenger crown in the last week of March in Barletta, almost cracking the top-100 with those points.

A couple of weeks later, the tennis world could witness the young Spaniard's talent and passion in Monte Carlo. Nadal qualified for his first Masters 1000 tournament on beloved clay and entered his career's second ATP event.

Making an impressive debut on the premium ATP level, Rafa dispatched world no. 49 Karol Kucera 6-1, 6-2 in swift 63 minutes.

Rafael Nadal picked Carlos Moya as his favorite player in 2003.

The 16-year-old gave away 12 points in eight service games and defended all three break chances to keep the pressure on the Slovak.

Dominating every segment and having the upper hand from start to finish, Rafa claimed 56% of the return points and delivered four breaks from six opportunities to race towards his second ATP win. In the second round, Nadal would face the reigning Roland Garros champion Albert Costa, hoping to give his best against a much better-ranked opponent whom he met in Barcelona a couple of years earlier.

"I have known Carlos Moya for a long time; we know each other pretty well. I do not know Albert Costa that well since I do not go to Barcelona often. Still, I went there once with Moya, and I had a chance to meet him. Nothing comes easy, and I do not think about higher ranking positions; many good players are out there.

I'm eager to meet the Roland Garros champion Albert Costa; it should be a great test for me. I will probably lose, but I'm ready to give my best. I have never asked for an autograph, but if I have to pick my favorite player, that's Carlos Moya.

I'm very grateful to him for saying such nice things about me, but I think other players play well at my age too," Rafael Nadal said.