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Moya: 'It's Rafa's Biggest Victory Since I Joined His Team'

  • Posted: Sep 11, 2019

Moya: ‘It’s Rafa’s Biggest Victory Since I Joined His Team’

Coaches Francis Roig, Carlos Moya gauge Nadal’s US Open triumph

There are some matches that set themselves apart from the rest, ones that become instant classics and establish themselves in the annals of tennis history. The competitors are catapulted into the highest echelon, their names etched in the record books and their place secured in the hearts and minds of fans. Sunday’s contest between Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final is one match worthy of that reverence.

The line that separated Nadal from victory and defeat was a fine one. The World No. 2 seemed so close to crossing the finish line after two sets that a straight-sets win and a fourth US Open crown seemed almost assured.

Three sets and almost three hours later, the Spaniard struggled to remain upright as he grappled with both defeat and a stubborn, determined opponent. After nearly five hours, the 33-year-old emerged victorious, 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, lifting his 19th Grand Slam trophy and nudging one step closer to Roger Federer’s record 20 major titles.

“These are matches that can change history,” coach Francis Roig told following the epic win. “We have already been through these types of matches and [on Sunday] we had to win. I think history owed us this one, and we accomplished this feat.”

You May Also Like: Rafael Nadal: Empowering, Inspiring Others

Roig was referring to the painful memories of Grand Slam conquests that barely slipped out of Nadal’s reach during the past several years. In 2014, a back injury hindered his charge’s performance as the Spaniard fell in four sets to Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open final.

Nadal had stumbled at the same hurdle in Melbourne two years before, losing to Novak Djokovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 for his third consecutive loss in a Grand Slam final. And in 2017, Nadal was leading Roger Federer 3-1 in the fifth set of the Australian Open final before succumbing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

“You don’t know how many opportunities like those he’ll have. Rafa is always seeking them out, though, and he tries to make the most of them at this point in his career. But it’s clear that losing a Grand Slam final hurts,” said fellow coach Carlos Moya, who was on hand to witness his pupil fight off multiple break points and a hard-charging Medvedev in dramatic fashion down the stretch. “It’s amazing what Rafa has achieved. He’s won majors in three sets. He’s lost them in five. But he’s always right there battling until the end, and he has this uncanny ability to pull through in difficult circumstances. He’s proven that once again.”

On paper, the final looked intriguing but lacked the allure of an enticing showdown between Nadal and the likes of Djokovic or Federer. On court at Arthur Ashe stadium, however, the encounter produced similar fireworks and resulted in one of the most emotionally charged, enthralling matches of Nadal’s career.

“In terms of excitement and emotion, it’s Rafa’s biggest victory since I joined his team,” Moya confessed. “The last four Grand Slam finals that I’ve been a part of, some were difficult to endure and others, not as much so. But this is definitely the most significant, especially when you take into consideration factors like the speed of the surface.”

Another detail worth noting is that Sunday’s win marked just the third time Nadal needed five sets to notch victory in a Grand Slam final: He outlasted Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 at Wimbledon in 2008 and again survived a five-set thriller against his Swiss rival, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2 in the Australian Open less than a year later.

Medvedev Nadal

As fierce and intense as his matches against familiar foes Djokovic and Federer have been, the pressure is even greater and stakes are higher, according to Roig, when it’s a different opponent standing across the court and in the way of another Grand Slam championship.

“Our level of euphoria is determined by the amount of theatrics involved during and surrounding a match,” said Roig, who has been in Nadal’s corner since nearly the start of his career. “Whenever Federer and Djokovic are out of the equation and Rafa is labeled the outright favourite, the pressure rises even higher and that only complicates matters.

“This was a match we couldn’t afford to lose. Medvedev had the kind of summer that made it hard to imagine him losing. They battled on equal terms and even as Rafa lifted his game, you could see the effects that was having on his body. The tension was at an all-time high and we saw no areas of weakness for Rafa to exploit. But that’s what makes Rafa such a great competitor: he always seems to find a way. It was an epic match.”

And if both coaches can agree on something, it’s that their charge saved his best for the final match of the two-week tournament.

More On Rafa’s #USOpen
Nadal Claims Epic Five-Set Win Against Medvedev For Title
Nadal Extends Lead Over Djokovic In Battle For Year-End No. 1
Nadal At Net: Rafa Finds New Way To Win Major Title In New York
Social Media Reacts To Nadal-Medvedev Instant Classic

“It was such an exciting match with so many possible outcomes. I wasn’t sitting comfortably at any time throughout the five sets,” Moya said. “We saw so many aspects of Rafa’s game, and he played his best match of the tournament. We knew going into the match it wouldn’t be easy and we were aware of what his opponent was capable of doing so we weren’t surprised by how things played out.”

For Roig, Nadal’s true colors ultimately showed in the fourth and fifth sets when he was forced to dig deep in order to pull through.

“Rafa really shines in the face of adversity,” the coach said. “He unleashes everything in his arsenal when it matters most. In those final sets, he hit even harder and more precisely. His groundstrokes were on target, and he found another gear in order to win.”

Roig’s final point is a familiar storyline in Nadal’s distinguished career.

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Get To Know ATP Cup… Part I

  • Posted: Sep 11, 2019

Get To Know ATP Cup… Part I

Learn more about the 2020 season opener, how it works, how countries and players qualify, the key entry deadlines and more in part one of our series on the ATP Cup

The countdown is on to the inaugural ATP Cup in January. To be played in three Australian cities and featuring 24 countries, the event will provide an explosive start to the 2020 ATP Tour season.

There’s lots to know about the new US$15 million tournament that will feature the world’s best players playing for their teammates and for the love of country. This week will run a series of stories to provide fans with greater understanding of the event.

What is the ATP Cup?
The ATP Cup is an annual 24-country team competition featuring US$15 million prize money and a maximum of 750 singles and 250 doubles ATP Rankings points. ATP is staging the event in partnership with Tennis Australia.

When and where will it be played?
The ATP Cup will begin the ATP Tour each season, starting on the Friday before Week 1. The tournament will be a 10-day event finishing on the final Sunday of Week 1. The inaugural event in 2020 will be held from Friday 3 – Sunday 12 January. The ATP Cup will be played alongside an ATP 250 event in Doha that will occupy Week 1 of the calendar.

The group stages competition will be hosted across three Australian cities – Brisbane, Perth and Sydney – over six days. Immediately following the group stages will be the ATP Cup Finals, Sydney – quarter-finals over two days, semi-finals and final – all to be played at Ken Rosewall Arena.

How does the tournament work?
The 24 countries are divided into six groups of four for group stage, round-robin play. The six winners of each group and the two best second-placed finishers across the groups emerge as the Final Eight Teams to contest the ATP Cup Finals, Sydney.

What is the format?
Each tie will comprise two singles and one doubles match. The country winning two matches wins the tie. Every country will be guaranteed to play three ties in the group stages. Singles will be best-of-three tie-break sets. Doubles will feature No-Ad scoring and a Match Tie-break in lieu of a third set.

What is the daily schedule?
There is a day session and an evening session each day per venue. The first singles matches will be played at 10 a.m. local time, starting with the No. 2 players in each tie, followed by the No. 1 players, with the doubles to follow. All doubles matches will be played regardless of whether the tie is decided after the two singles matches.

How does a country qualify for the ATP Cup and which of its players get to play?
A minimum of three ATP ranked players, including two members with singles ATP Ranking points, are required for a country to be eligible to qualify. A country may have up to five players. If a team has five players, at least three must have an ATP Singles Ranking. If less than five players, a team must have at least two players with an ATP Singles Ranking.


When will the teams be announced?
The Top 18 countries will be announced soon after the first entry deadline of Friday, 13 September. If it is not in the Top 18 of the ATP Cup Standings on Friday, Australia will gain entry to the tournament as the host country. That would leave room for five additional teams to be announced at the 13 November second entry deadline. If Australia is in the Top 18 on Friday, an additional six countries will qualify at the second entry deadline.

How will entries work?
At this Friday’s first entry deadline, a country will gain acceptance into the event based on the ATP Ranking of the country’s No. 1 singles player. The qualifying country’s second-highest-ranked singles player will gain acceptance at the same time. If either of the two accepted singles players drop outside their country’s top two ranked singles players at the second entry deadline (13 November), either player may withdraw from the event. Remaining team members (up to an additional three players) will gain acceptance at the 13 November entry deadline, based on the current ATP Rankings.

Rankings to be used for entries are the 52-week ATP Rankings. A Protected Ranking can be used to enter provided the player’s Protected Ranking is valid through the entry deadline for which he is eligible. Protected Ranking will not be used for team seeding.

At the second entry deadline (13 November), the remaining five or six countries will qualify based on the ranking of their No. 1 singles player. Also, all qualified players from all teams will be committed at the second entry deadline.

View ATP Cup Standings

– This story was updated 12 September.

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Rafael Nadal: Empowering, Inspiring Others

  • Posted: Sep 11, 2019

Rafael Nadal: Empowering, Inspiring Others

US Open champion discusses his latest Grand Slam triumph and what the future holds

Time catches up with everyone. Even the greatest of athletes are not immune to its effects. Rafael Nadal is fully aware of the principles of aging, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing everything in his power to stave off its effects and delay the coronation of the next generation of tennis stars. The 33-year-old has thrived at the highest level on the ATP Tour for 15 seasons, racking up 19 Grand Slam trophies and achieving numerous milestones along the way.

Despite his wide-ranging success, the Spaniard is quick to point out that every new achievement is unique and special. No. 2 in the ATP Rankings, Nadal works hard to ensure he still performs at his best every time he competes, just as he did to capture his latest crown: a fourth US Open title on Sunday. He currently trails only Roger Federer (20) in major titles.

Now back in Mallorca and resting after his epic five-set battle against Daniil Medvedev at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York just a few days earlier, Nadal spoke with at a small media gathering to discuss his victory at Flushing Meadows, the recovery process, his plans for the rest of the year and his state of mind.

Nadal bites trophy 2019 <a href=''>US Open</a>

You became emotional after watching highlights of your US Open victory.
You have to understand the circumstances. The last three hours were especially hard for me; I had the match practically won. Thinking back, I realise how things suddenly took a turn [in Medvedev’s favour] and how quickly matters spun out of my control.

The situation reached a point so critical, I went from on the cusp of winning to on the verge of losing. Up until that third set, I was on course to win, but he took command from that point on. I realise not only how much we both fought, but what we put ourselves through, mentally and physically, before he showed a moment of weakness and I broke through.

Over the past several weeks, you’ve stated on several occasions that you’re “getting older”. Does that mean you “feel” older?
No, I don’t feel any older than my age! I feel what I am. I’m 33 years old. I’ve always thought that I don’t know when my last victory will come. But I feel as though I’m going through a solid phase in my career.

I’m simply aware as the years go on and I get older, I can’t lose sight of the reality of the situation. You must take better care of yourself, make wiser decisions and while you were able to play a lot more matches when you were younger, it’s important to be more selective as you get older. You must be calculating and put a lot of thought into what’s going to be most beneficial to extend your career.

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On Sunday, you became the first player in the Open Era to win five Grand Slam titles after turning 30. Not too long ago, many experts of the sport were saying that wasn’t a realistic feat.
My motivation has never been to disprove what others say about me or to demonstrate that I can do things others can’t. I stay away from all of that, not just in tennis but in my daily life as well. Ambition and motivation must be driven from the inside, not by any outside forces. I surround myself with positive energy and operate at the best of my abilities.

Apart from what others felt, did you have your own doubts?
Just as many have doubted that I could play on for so many years, I’ve had and will always have my own doubts. But here I am. It’s something I take day by day, and I’m satisfied with this approach. Above all, if my body allows me to train at a high level on a daily basis, I’ll continue to play as I’m still passionate about tennis. I enjoy setting goals and I relish the competition.

Coach Carlos Moya said after the final that, in terms of emotion and significance, this was the most significant victory since he joined your team. Would you also rate it among your best matches?
I haven’t watched the match again! (Laughs) I’ve only played through it and, without seeing it, it’s hard to comment on that. When you’re out there in the heat of the moment, you’re nervous and it’s impossible to process anything but what you have to do to win. The final definitely had all the ingredients necessary for a compelling, remarkable match that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, but I’d have to watch it from start to finish in order to give you my verdict as to where it stands among my best matches.

You haven’t discussed the possibility of reclaiming the No. 1 ATP Ranking, despite a brilliant season thus far. Instead, you maintain the goal is to be competitive for as long as possible.
Being competitive is one of my biggest motivators and I always aspire to be my best. My goal is to give myself the best possible options to compete at the highest level in the biggest tournaments for as long as possible. In order to achieve this goal, I’ve obviously been constraining myself to a less busy calendar. This year I’ve played only 11 events, and I don’t know how many I’ll have entered by the end of the year. But as you can tell, the calendar is shrinking, and that’s also partly due to the solid results I’ve obtained.

You’ve reached at least 10 semi-finals in 11 tournaments this year, capturing four titles (Rome, Roland Garros, Montreal, US Open). What’s been the most satisfying moment of the season so far?
Without any doubt, it’s the way I rebounded after Barcelona [Nadal reached the semi-finals at Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell before losing to Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-4]. I struggled the week before at Monte-Carlo as well and wasn’t performing at my best going into Godo [Barcelona]. In the end, that’s what leaves me most satisfied. I’m happy with the way I bounced back mentally from those events.

More On Rafa’s #USOpen
Nadal Claims Epic Five-Set Win Against Medvedev For Title
Nadal Extends Lead Over Djokovic In Battle For Year-End No. 1
Nadal At Net: Rafa Finds New Way To Win Major Title In New York
Social Media Reacts To Nadal-Medvedev Instant Classic

Even though regaining the No. 1 spot is not an objective, you’re currently the leader in the ATP Race To London.
It’s true that obtaining the No. 1 ATP Ranking is not the main goal, nor has it ever been my ultimate pursuit. Obviously, becoming No. 1 would be very gratifying, but I can’t afford to let that be my top priority at this point in my career. I can’t waste time or energy trying to be No. 1; I need those resources to train and prepare to compete at my best on the weeks I step on the court.

If becoming the top player in the world is a result of that, then I’ll feel rewarded. If I don’t end the year as No. 1, it will still have been a very fulfilling year. I’ve played well on a consistent basis and to me, that’s satisfying.

You’ve insisted on restraining yourself from competing too frequently throughout the season. You ended your title run at Flushing Meadows in a state of exhaustion. What lies ahead for the rest of the year?
I’m tired. The truth is that I still haven’t fully recovered. I came home and we have already done a little recovery. I’m regaining my strength little by little. It’s too early to hash out plans, because since that match, I haven’t had a chance to discuss matters with my team. This week we will have that conversation, but apart from this, I will also have to wait a few days to see how my body heals. One thing I do have is Laver Cup 2019 marked on my calendar.

What are you doing specifically to recover both physically and mentally after such a grueling affair?
Mental recovery is done by resting! (Laughs) It’s not just about the last match; my body has been put through a lot of stress the past few weeks. You’re competing in one of the most important tournaments of the year and it requires a lot from your body on a daily basis.

When you finish, after such a dramatic final, the physical and mental effects are consequential. You have to recover steadily by taking all the necessary steps to ensure proper recuperation. As for the mind, I just need to rest and adjust my schedule accordingly to one that I feel will wield the best results and won’t hinder my recovery.

Are you doing anything differently this time around in terms of physical recovery?
No, nothing different. Preparations for my return have been similar to what I’ve been doing as of late following similar demanding tournaments like the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. I’m getting proper rest. The only thing that’s changed in recent times is that I spend more time training at home [in Manacor, Mallorca, Spain] and then take it up a notch when I arrive [on location] ahead of a tournament.

Medvedev is providing glimpses of the future, and indications that a new wave of talent is knocking on the door.
A changing of the guard has been predicted for years, but it’s developed a little slower than perhaps expected. The old guard has shown resistance but some mainstays like David Ferrer have recently passed the torch. The truth is, the three of us [including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer] have gained so much success in these past 14 years, and we’re still atop the ATP Rankings.

Now here comes [Daniil] Medvedev, [Alexander] Zverev, [Karen] Khachanov, [Andrey] Rublev, Felix [Auger-Aliassime], [Matteo] Berrettini and [Denis] Shapovalov. That’s a formidable group and the overwhelming logic is that the next generation is already here. They’re making a lot of noise and attracting lots of attention. Several members of that next wave are already in the Top 10 and my guess is that we’ll see more and more every year.


What’s your take on the state of Spanish tennis?
Spaniards have achieved things in tennis over the past 30 years that almost certainly cannot be replicated. On the other hand, we are competing as a country with players from nations with economic capacities that outweigh us by infinity.

The budgets of federations that govern the sport in nations that host majors are tremendously higher than ours. You can include the Italian Tennis Federation and [Tennis Canada], which oversee two very big ATP Masters 1000 events [the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and Coupe Rogers, respectively] with that group as well. They have a much higher budget and far more funds.

During these boom years in Spain, we’ve made the mistake of not being able, as a federation, to establish our tournaments on that same level to potentially generate an annual income that could then be used to promote the sport, to help cultivate young talent and to provide them with resources to flourish. That said, we must see how our rising talent fares, Jaume Munar, Carlos Alcaraz, Pedro Martinez, we’ll see how they progress.

You are an inspiration not only to those players and Spaniards in general, but for the tennis community as well. This can be seen in the reactions from the stands after victories like the one at the US Open.
It’s not something that’s always on my mind but it is something to keep in mind. I always try to be myself and do the things that seem right to me. I apply the lessons that my family has given me since I was young. One has the ability to see things their role models do and try to emulate those things.

In the same way, one has the power to avoid destructive behavior. I always strive to imitate positive behavior and have the awareness to shun what could bring me down. It brings me a lot of satisfaction to know that what I do can help and inspire others. We all have to get up to go to work, fight through whatever life throws our way and simply keep a positive outlook, and if what I do somehow inspires someone to do that, that’s gratifying. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than making others feel more empowered or to raise the spirits of other people.

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