Former Grand Slam champion Carlos Moya, who now coaches fellow tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, has shared his thoughts on the latter's semi-final at Roland-Garros this year. Coming into the French Open as the defending champion, Nadal appeared to be on his way to the 14th title of his career before meeting his arch nemesis Novak Djokovic in the last four.
In what was a repeat of the 2020 final, the 'King of Clay' appeared to have had a measure of the Serbian in the first set as he raced to a 5-0 lead before closing it at 6-3. However, the tide turned dramatically thereafter when the Serb took his game into God mode to win the next three sets, consigning the Spaniard to a rare trophyless campaign in the French capital.
Sharing his take on the epic quarter-final clash at Roland-Garros in an interview with a Spanish publication, Moya said that the match was very similar to the title clash in Rome this year, in which Nadal triumphed over Djokovic in three sets to lift his 10th career title.
Moya said the 13-time champion had to win a series of points to decisively turn the match in his favor, but it was the Serbian who played better in the crucial moments to finally prevail. Citing a case in point, he said that Djokovic stood his ground and was the best player when the game was in the balance at 5-6 in the third set.
Focusing on another key moment of the match, Moya recalled how Nadal allowed the Serb to put one foot in the door after he took his foot off the pedal as he led 5-0 in the first set. “It was a match similar to the one they played in Rome a few weeks ago.
Everything is very even and it is vital to hit a series of points that can change the balance. Novak was better in those situations, like 5-6 in the third set, but it was also key that Rafa let him into the game when he dominated 5-0 in the first set,” said the coach.
Toni was surprised at his nephew's withdrawal from Wimbledon
In that context, Rafael Nadal's uncle and former coach Toni Nadal recently revealed that Djokovic's impressive showing at Roland Garros has changed his mind about who he thinks is likely to end up with the most Slams.
"The truth is that before Roland Garros I saw Rafael (winning the most Grand Slams), now the subject has changed a bit," Toni told MARCA. "The next Wimbledon and US Open will define things a bit because I understand that each year it will be more difficult to win.
A loss at Roland Garros is always painful, especially if you have won 13 times," Toni Nadal said. "But it is not Rafael's first defeat. He has lost more difficult games in finals. It is normal that he is a little affected.
It did surprise me (Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from Wimbledon)," Toni added. "It is true that he had a few small problems, but obviously he thought he would play."