Carlos Moya believes the start of the year has been 'very good' for Rafael Nadal. The former world number one joined the nine-time French Open winner's coaching set-up ahead of the start of the 2017 season.
Nadal was forced to cut short his 2016 season prematurely in October owing to a wrist injury before making a comeback at the start of the year for the first tournament of the new season in Brisbane. He lost in the quarter-finals in his first outing but has since made the finals in three of his last four tournaments of which he has won none. The 14-time Grand Slam winner lost in the finals of the Australian Open and the Miami Masters to Roger Federer and the Telcel Open in Acapulco to Sam Querrey.
Moya is not concerned about his lack of titles and is delighted that Nadal is back fighting for the major titles and beating players ranked higher than him. The clay court swing of the 2017 season has just got underway in Monte Carlo and it culminates four tournaments later at the French Open. It is the current world number seven's favourite surface and he has already been installed as one of the favourites to win his tenth Roland Garros crown owing to his form.
"The start of the year has been very good," Moya said, as quoted by Tennis World USA. "Only winning a title missed. Rafa comes back to have a winning trend and he fought to win a Grand Slam and Masters 1000 title. He beat players who were ranked better than him. Now it's time to do the same on clay, (where) he has not been playing for almost a year. You need to fix something but you do it well enough."
Federer has been the main reason Nadal is without a title in 2017. The two long-time rivals have already faced off on three occasions – the finals of the Australian Open and Miami Masters and the fourth round at the BNP Paribas Masters – the first time it has happened this early in the season.
The Swiss ace has got the better of the Spaniard all three times with only the final in Melbourne going the distance. In the Masters Series events, Federer saw off Nadal in straight sets but the Miami final saw the latter put up a much better fight than he did at Indian Wells and Moya believes that is the way forward if they are to beat the 18-time Grand Slam champion when they come up against him later in the campaign.
"It's clear that now we have to get on with things. We already did it in Miami and it was a more balanced match than the one played in Indian Wells. They spoke about the fact of not playing much on his backhand side, Federer maybe found solutions and played more aggressive. The goal was also to make him uncomfortable on the second serve. It worked in the first seven games until when he broke him," Nadal's coach added.