Under normal circumstances, you would expect Rafael Nadal to handsomely clinch his 13th title at Roland Garros. But this year, even though he is still the favorite, there are a few lingering questions around him - particularly with regard to the conditions and the new balls in use.
Nadal’s coach and former French Open champion Carlos Moya touched upon these issues while speaking to ATPtour.com about his ward’s chances this year. Moya revealed that Rafael Nadal was still not playing at his 100% ability, and that the only way to bring that level would be to face a difficult opponent or situation.
Moya also compared the chances of Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem, and stated that the conditions would favor the Serb more than the Austrian.
Rafael Nadal has the ability to adapt that nobody else does: Carlos Moya
Rafael Nadal has overcome a lot of adverse situations throughout his playing career. Be it playing with injury, or playing in tricky conditions, or battling past opponents in five-hour epics, the Mallorcan has done it all.
So it's no surprise that Carlos Moya believes the unusual conditions at this year’s French Open will not affect Nadal much, given his supreme levels of adaptability.
“We’ve been talking about it from day one: he’s won in the sun, in the rain, in snow, at altitude, at sea level,” Moya said. "There are some conditions that favor him more and others less, but he’s managed to win tournaments in thousands of situations throughout his career. Rafa has an ability to adapt that nobody else does.”
That said, Moya added an air of caution by claiming that Rafael Nadal was yet to be properly tested in this tournament. The 44-year-old explained that his ward needs a difficult opponent or a tie-break to bring out the best in him.
“He’s not at his 100 per cent best, he needs that to be brought out of him, by meeting an opponent he can’t dominate, by handling a tie-break. I have no doubt that he will do that well, but that’s what he is a lacking a little bit,” Moya added.
Carlos Moya on the chances of Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem
Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem are widely believed to be the next favourites for the title after Rafael Nadal. Their chances seem to have gone up this year, given that the conditions are not entirely in the Spaniard’s favor.
Novak Djokovic in particular stands to gain from the lower-bouncing conditions, and Carlos Moya believes Dominic Thiem have trouble beating the Serb on a slower-than-normal court.
“(The conditions benefit) The former, Djokovic. I don’t think they benefit Thiem too much,” Moya said. “In theory, I think it benefits him when everything is a little faster. Thiem, playing against Rafa, maybe he doesn’t prefer it to be fast, but he does against Djokovic. It’s just conjecture.”Published 05 Oct 2020, 16:21 IST