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Moya: Biggest Concern for Nadal’s Comeback

Coach Carlos Moya on the greatest challenge Rafael Nadal will face Down Under.

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, December 18, 2023
Seeing is believing.

The sight of Rafael Nadal whipping his twisting topspin forehand in practice, reinforces coach Carlos Moya’s belief the king of clay can create crackling comeback.

Nadal: Ready to Face Fears and Doubts

Still, coach Moya concedes a primary concern ahead of Nadal’s comeback Brisbane next month.

How will Nadal’s surgically-repaired hip respond to the best-of-five set rigors of the Australian Open, which starts on January 14th.

“Rafa’s going to go from training, which he’s doing very well, to competing. It’s impossible to have the same conditions in training as in a match,” Moya told “Playing the best of five sets, win, rest, return to court two days later…

“That’s the doubt I have right now, especially for a Grand Slam. But we have time. If the Australian Open started tomorrow, it would be a real fear.

“There’s still a month left, a tournament before in Brisbane, demanding training… I think all of this will put him in a position to be able to endure it. But now that’s my fear.”

Coach Moya’s concern is understandable given the 37-year-old Nadal has not played a match since hobbling through a straight-sets loss to Mackenzie McDonald in the 2023 Australian Open second round last January.

Brisbane represents early proving ground for Nadal, who will play first match since undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery on his left psoas tendon back on June 2nd.

While the king of clay confesses to concerns,  Nadal believes he’s ready for this comeback challenge.

“I have been afraid to announce things because, in the end, it’s a year without competing,” Nadal said in video comments on Instagram. “It’s a hip operation, but what I’m most concerned about is not the hip, it’s everything else. The reality is that it’s a long time and you have doubts about your body.

“But hey, I think I’m ready and confident and hopefully things will go well and that it will give me the opportunity to enjoy myself on the court again.”

Former world No. 1 Moya is hopeful Nadal will get the match play in Brisbane required to prepare him for Melbourne.

“I’ve never been of the thought that Rafa needs rhythm because he’s too good for that,” Moya told
“But now the situation is different.”

On the flip side, though Nadal is a notorious creature of habit who draws confidence from match play and proper preparation, Moya points to Nadal’s run to the 2022 Australian Open crown, which he captured despite playing just a handful of matches in the six months before Melbourne, as a sign he can excel without much match play.

“I think it’s always been a bit of an urban legend that Rafa needs a lot of matches or a lot of tournaments to go far,” Moya said. “In the time he has been stopped, he has always come back and from the beginning he has been able to make great results.”

Photo credit: Rafa Nadal Academy

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