Rafael Nadal news: ‘He has the whole alphabet’ – Spaniard’s ability to evolve and game intelligence hailed

Rafael Nadal

Carlos Moya believes Rafael Nadal’s ability to alter his game as age caught up with him is one of the big reasons why he is still able to win big titles at the age of 35.

After finishing the 2021 season without any Grand Slams and struggling with a serious foot injury, not too many people would have backed Nadal to win this year’s Australian Open.

But the Spaniard was the last man standing at Melbourne Park after he defeated Daniil Medvedev in a marathon five-setter in the final of the season-opening major.

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In an interview with Punto de Break, his coach Moya explained how the 21-time Grand Slam winner’s ability to play smart tennis has helped him.

“What Rafa is looking for is to be competitive and continue to evolve. It is true that over time you lose physique, speed or explosiveness, but you are smarter and handle situations better.

“I always said that Rafa is one of the most intelligent players on the court, one of those who read the games best, the one who is most suited to having a Plan B, a Plan C…

“I would tell you that he has the whole alphabet. If he sees that the rival has a crack or the smallest gap through which he can enter, he sees it, reads it and gets it.

“The (Australian Open) final is a clear example: it starts badly but then it changes, little by little. That is the adrenaline that he has inside, to see that he can still fight with the best in the world.”

Nadal now leads the Grand Slam race as he is one title ahead of his great rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, but while he is delighted to be at the front, Moya is adamant that it is not the be all and end all for the 35-year-old.

“What I can assure you is that in Australia we never talked about No 21,” he said.

“Although it was on the horizon, you knew it could happen. Talking about it would have meant more pressure than he already had. We do not feed that debate, we leave it to the press and the tennis fans.

“Rafa is happy with what he has, he will be just as happy if he finishes with 21 and Djokovic with 25. It’s not good to obsess; yes get motivated.

“Obviously, he is not going to give up on 22, if the opportunity arises he will fight for him, but it is a debate that, with all of them still active, does not make much sense.”