There are no easy matches at the Grand Slams - or perhaps at any level in professional tennis. Not even for a tennis legend like Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard will take to the court at Roland Garros on Friday with a chance to reach a record-extending 13th final at the claycourt Major. But Nadal and his team remain humble, refusing to take any match or player lightly.
His opponent on Friday will be Diego Schwartzman, who has a 1-9 record against Nadal. But interestingly, it was the Argentine who won their last encounter - just a few weeks ago at the Italian Open in Rome.
There might have been some underlining factors behind the result - Nadal did not play the American hardcourt events in August after the resumption of the tour, and Rome was his first tournament since February. Still, the win did send shock waves in the tennis world, since Rafael Nadal losing on clay is very rare.
Against that background, Nadal's coach Carlos Moya recently talked about how his ward will approach the match against Schwartzman, and what the World No. 2 needs to do to avoid a Rome-like result.
It will be a tough mental battle: Carlos Moya on Rafael Nadal's upcoming clash with Diego Schwartzman
Carlos Moya, the former World No. 1 and coach of Rafael Nadal, believes that the Spaniard has learnt from his defeat in Rome and that he will be prepared for Friday's match.
“The match in Rome was very strange because Rafa won two very good matches against powerful opponents,” Moya told Eurosport. “Against Schwartzman it was the first time that he had problems in the score and he did not manage it totally well on a physical or mental level. We learned from that moment and now he is at a great level with many more games played."
Moya went on to surmise that the match on Friday would be a mental battle, and that they expect Schwartzman to be completely fit despite his five-set marathon against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday.
"It will be a tough mental battle and I think we have some weapons that will allow Rafa to compete with guarantees," Moya added. "It will be a very difficult duel as we saw in Rome. Diego’s match against Thiem yesterday was incredible and I think even Diego could have won more easily. Diego is an incredible player and we don’t think that the physical factor is going to influence too much.”Published 08 Oct 2020, 00:10 IST