Rafael Nadal tips ‘amazing champion’ Carlos Moya to help Milos Raonic reach next level

Speaking in Abu Dhabi after the Mubadala World Tennis Championship final, Rafael Nadal gave Carlos Moya a ringing endorsement as his fellow Spaniard joins Milos Raonic's coaching staff. Ahmed Rizvi reports.

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ABU DHABI // Rafael Nadal has backed Milos Raonic’s decision to add “good friend” Carlos Moya to his coaching team and believes the former world No 1 and 1998 French Open champion could be the catalyst to help achieve the Canadian’s dreams.

Raonic has hired Moya, the former Spanish Davis Cup captain, to fill the spot left vacant by Croatian Ivan Ljubicic’s departure in November.

Ljubicic has since joined Roger Federer’s coaching staff and Raonic, desperate to make up for lost time after an injury-disrupted 2015, has turned to Moya, who retired in 2010 after a 15-year career that included one grand slam title at Roland Garros and a trip to the 1997 Australian Open, where he finished runner-up to Pete Sampras.

“Carlos is an amazing champion and a great ambassador of our sport,” said Nadal after his 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Raonic in the final of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Saturday night. “He has a lot of knowledge about this sport, so for sure he will help Milos in some aspects. Carlos is a close friend of mine so I wish him and Milos all the best.”

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Moya was the first Spaniard to reach the top of the ATP rankings since they were introduced in 1973 and he finished his career with 20 titles alongside a Davis Cup winner’s medal.

Raonic, 25, has reached as high as No 4 (May, 2015) in the rankings and, in reaching the last four at the 2014 Wimbledon, he became the first Canadian men’s singles player to reach the semi-finals at a grand slam since Robert Powell in 1908.

The Montenegro-born big-server, however, has much bigger ambitions and is hoping Moya will help him achieve them.

“It’s going to be a great complement to my team,” Raonic said. “I have a big team around me. Guys love what they do and they really want to help me dearly and he’s no exception to that.

“I think he brings a lot of experience and understanding, but at the same time, he’s going to work very hard with me on court. He’s also going to give me that kind of calm and peace in moments where maybe I can’t find it on my own off the court and before the important matches.”

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Raonic, however, is confident about his health, especially his bothersome back, as he starts 2016.

“I’m feeling great,” he said. “Actually I know I am definitely in significantly better shape than I have been in before. So, you know, I’m doing well, the right work, hopefully my body appreciates it.

“I’d like to do much better [in 2016] than I have in grand slams. For that to happen, I have to be healthy to give myself a chance to play good tennis.”

Making his first appearance in Abu Dhabi, Raonic was also pleased with his performance in reaching the MWTC final, beating South African Kevin Anderson before edging world No 4 Stan Wawrinka, a man he has failed to beat in four attempts on the ATP Tour, in the semis.

“It’s been phenomenal,” Raonic said. “It’s been sort of a premiere and premium way to set up 2016. You get three great matches against great players and it gives you a lot to build up off, a lot of insight.

“Hopefully things will keep going well through the first month of the year and maybe I can play Rafa [Nadal] again in a later stage of a bigger tournament.”

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