Rafael Nadal must be admired, even if you are a fan of rivals Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, says coach Carlos Moya.
With the ‘big three’ directly competing with each other to finish their careers with most majors, tennis fandom is going through its most partisan era in history.
Nadal has had an often bitter rivalry with Federer in the past, although that has not settled down into one of mutual admiration, but his rivalry with Djokovic remains intense.
Moya, though, believes rivalry should go out of the window when it comes to admiring what Rafael Nadal has achieved in tennis.
“Even if you’re not a fan of Rafa, who likes Djokovic or Federer more, it’s hard not to admire what he’s achieving,” Moya said.
“I’m not a Real Madrid fan but I totally admire how he has won this last Champions League, they are feats that go beyond taste, this is the beauty of sport.”
To the outside, Rafael Nadal winning yet another Roland Garros title may not have looked unusual.
However, Moya says that with everything he saw concerning Nadal’s foot and his lack of preparation on clay this season, it made this particular title ‘special.’
“If you saw the day to day, everything that happened in the last month, you would value it much more,” Moya said. “I know that people value it, but it would be valued even more.
“It’s not that I’m surprised because I have maximum confidence in Nadal, but it’s true that if you stop to think that he’s won 14 Roland Garros, with everything he’s had, it’s hard not to admire him.”
“Despite all that I have lived with him, this was a unique experience, although what I experienced at the Australian Open five months ago was also quite unique.
“Nadal has never had such an unusual clay tour. All of this is what has made this Roland Garros so special.”
Author’s comment: We beat the drum on mutual admiration in tennis as much as anyone, so we could not remotely disagree with Carlos Moya here. We absolutely love all the big three without favouritism.
That said, it’s noteworthy that ‘mutual admiration’ is not what Moya is requesting here. If he was, he would be stating his admiration for Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic too, if for nothing else but to prove his point.
It just feels a bit like Moya is demanding that everyone admire Nadal, and admiration doesn’t really work like that. He is Nadal’s coach and friend, so of course he is going to be his guy, but he is his coach not his publicist.
The fact is that rivalries among tennis fans are very entrenched these days and while Moya probably believes he is trying to smooth that over here, we suspect his comments will likely just serve to intensify it more, which is a shame.