PARIS: Carlos Moya has told Rafael Nadal to ignore all talk of a 10th French Open title, but admitted that the magical double-digit is causing pressure for his fellow Spaniard.
Moya, the 1998 Roland Garros champion and also a former world number one, is part of Nadal’s coaching team in Paris and is keen to keep expectations in check.
“Clearly there is a bit of pressure. We don’t pay much attention to making it number ten,” 40-year-old Moya told Agence France-Presse.
“We take it into account but we try to ignore it. We try to coexist as best as possible with the pressure.”
Moya works alongside Nadal’s longtime coach, his uncle Toni, as well as Francesco Roig.
When Toni steps down from the team at the end of the year, Moya will take overall control of his fellow Mallorcan.
Moya and Nadal have been close friends for many years and he knows the powers that the nine-time Roland Garros champion possesses having got a close look in Paris 10 years ago.
Nadal beat him in the quarterfinals in what proved to be Moya’s last match on the Philippe Chatrier court.
“I remember the beating that I had, he was playing very well and I was playing well too, but his level was very high,” recalled Moya.
“I was out of my reach and it was my last match in Philippe Chatrier.”
In training, Moya says they have been working on perfecting Nadal’s second serve to back up the player’s fierce ground strokes off both wings.
“We have been working quite a bit on the second service, trying to be more aggressive. This is the tennis part that we have worked on most,” said Moya.
Nadal, who won the last of his 14 majors at the 2014 French Open, is the overwhelming favourite for a 10th Roland Garros this year.
Moya believes he is certainly in the form to achieve the goal having won titles on clay in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid already this year.
“For me, the preparation has been ideal, he has trained well and is physically healthy.
“Victories are needed, no one assures you of playing well, but you have to be able to know that you can do it.”
Moya also believes that Novak Djokovic, the defending champion in Paris, made s smart move in bringing in Andre Agassi as his coach, albeit for just the first week in Paris.
“I think he can help. Agassi solved difficult situations on the court when he was a player,” said Moya.
“Djokovic hopes that he will help him solve his difficult situations and be able to return to his best level.
“I figured he was going to take on a powerful name but I do not know what relationship they’re going to have. Agassi will not be in Paris in the second week.
“Let’s see if he gets Agassi on the circuit bit by bit.”