Moya reveals the changes Rafael Nadal made in 2016 to get back to the top
- Carlos Moya talked about the changes he implemented in Rafael Nadal's game after joining his coaching team in 2016.
- The Spaniard said that the new game plan has helped Nadal stay competitive for a longer period.
In the ongoing Eurosports "Players' Cut" series featuring Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard's current coach Carlos Moya talked about the large-scale changes he made in the left-hander's game in 2016.
Afflicted by injuries and a subsequent loss in form, Rafael Nadal dropped out of the top 5 in 2015 for the first time in a decade. The Spaniard endured as many as 20 defeats that year, the most he has suffered in a season during his illustrious career.
2015 marked the end of Rafael Nadal's 10-year run of winning at least one Grand Slam. The drought continued in 2016 as well, as injuries forced Nadal to end his season prematurely after losing 14 of his 53 matches.
It was at this time that Carlos Moya joined Rafael Nadal's team.
Moya made particular mention of Rafael Nadal's 2015 season and said that injuries and low confidence had clogged his compatriot's head, impairing his ability to think clearly:
"In 2015, Rafael Nadal had injury and also confidence issues. In addition, he was not very well in his head as they say. Once I made this observation, my idea was to present him a new game plan."
What specific changes did Carlos Moya bring in Rafael Nadal's game?
Carlos Moya made a meticulous analysis of Rafael Nadal's performances in the previous two years and concluded that his ward needed to improve his serve.
The 1998 Roland Garros champion observed that Nadal was trying to put in too many first serves, which made it difficult for him to start a point on the attack.
"My goal was to convince him to be more aggressive and also to improve his service. His greatest progress came from his second serve. Generally, he tried to put a lot of first serves in terms of percentage, which often pushed him to start the point by defending."
Rafael Nadal was also made to realise that trying to keep points short would help him stay competitive for a longer period. It was particularly important for him to reduce the wear and tear on his body given his overtly physical style of play.
"I really tried to make him change his mind at this level, to push him to take more risks, to be more aggressive," Moya said.
The tactic paid immediate dividends as Rafael Nadal came within three service holds of a second Australian Open title in 2017 before losing to Roger Federer in five sets. However, the Spaniard would go on to lift his third title in Flushing Meadows that year, as he closed the season as the world's top-ranked player.