Rafael Nadal has been working with his good friend Carlos Moya since 2017. Carlos replaced Toni as Rafa's coach, bringing the necessary improvements to his game and making him more competitive than ever at 36 years old.
Nadal has known Moya since he took his first steps in tennis, watching Moya. games and hoping to one day become the best player in the world, just like his favorite player. The 16-year-old Nadal was ready to fight in 2003 after gaining many places on the ATP ranking list the year before.
Rafa outclassed 500 rivals at such a young age and wished for more during 2003. The Manacor native lost three finals earlier in the year before winning the first Challenger crown in the last week of March in Barletta, nearly breaking the top-100 with those points.
A couple of weeks later, the tennis world was able to witness the talent and passion of the young Spaniard in Monte Carlo. Nadal qualified for his first Masters 1000 tournament on clay and entered his second career ATP event.
Making an impressive debut at the premium ATP level, Rafa dispatched world no. 49 Karol Kucera 6-1, 6-2 in quick 63 minutes. The 16-year-old gave away 12 points in eight service games and fended off all three break chances to keep the pressure on the Slovak.
Dominating all segments and having the upper hand from start to finish, Rafa claimed 56% of the return points and delivered four breaks from six chances to race to his second ATP win. In the second round, Nadal would face reigning Roland Garros champion Albert Costa, hoping to put his best foot forward against a much higher-ranked opponent he met in Barcelona a couple of years earlier.
Ferrer reflects on Rafa Nadal
In a conversation with Marca, fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, who was involved in numerous battles with Rafael Nadal over the years, spoke about how the 35-year-old is one of the favorites at the upcoming Wimbledon Championships.
"Rafa is one of the favourites at Wimbledon, comes with a lot of confidence and is difficult to beat. He is among the five best athletes in history and has changed the sport with what he has achieved throughout his career.
If Rafa is good mentally and plays confidently, he is a favorite," Ferrer said. "28 wins and 5 losses is my resume in the tournament [Davis Cup]. I didn't have them under control, the truth is that I did well because I was in the hands of the best in the world - Rafa Nadal , and that's why we were never doing badly. Hopefully Rafa can be in the Davis Cup, he is the best player in history," Ferrer said.