Toni Nadal: "I Am Always Scared When We Win Easily"
Toni Nadal and Moya dissect how Rafa's playing thus far in Paris
Nadal has lost just 20 games in four matches this year at the clay-court Grand Slam championship and remains on track to capture his 10th trophy without dropping a set – as he did at Roland Garros in 2008 and 2010.
“I am always scared when we win easily,” admitted Toni Nadal. “Then you have a close match where you are 4-4, 5-5 and you get surprised to reach that stage… The first week has been perfect or at least that’s what the results show. Rafael has won his matches more comfortably than expected.”
Former World No. 1 and 1998 Roland Garros champion Carlos Moya, who joined Nadal’s team late last year, agrees that it's been a terrific start. “It has been a great, great first week at a huge level and he's spent not a lot of time on court, which also counts.”
Both Toni Nadal and Moya feel that their charge is ready for the challenge ahead going into the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
“Before facing [Roberto] Bautista Agut I told him to be prepared for a tough match, do not get tense and play freely,” said Toni Nadal. “The result was clear [6-1, 6-2, 6-2]. Rafael made more mistakes than the previous round, but the ball is flying and everything is going great.”
Moya added, “He has a lot of knowledge and background in these kind of situations. He has been there. Once you reach a certain stage, if you have a bad day and solve it, like he did in Monte-Carlo or Madrid, then it helps. But I think it’s better if he wins the way he is winning now.”
Despite returning to top form during the European clay swing, including three ATP World Tour clay-court titles this season at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and the Mutua Madrid Open, Nadal and his team are taking nothing for granted.
“We expect a difficult match,” said Toni Nadal, when asked his nephew’s quarter-final against fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta. “I saw Pablo's match against [Milos] Raonic and he never gave up, even neutralising a break in the fifth set.”
Moya admitted, “We are aware that a bad day at the office could mean going home. It’s true that having a good record helps, but Pablo is playing great.”
Should Nadal beat Carreno Busta, then he would face Novak Djokovic, the Roland Garros defending champion, or Dominic Thiem, who beat the Spanish star in the Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarter-finals last month.
Toni Nadal and Moya both expect a lengthy battle between Djokovic and Thiem on Tuesday.
“Thiem is ready to win,” said Toni Nadal. “Out of the last eight, he is the one player with more probabilities to have success. Obviously, he doesn’t have an easy path. Beating Djokovic is not an easy task and then Nadal or Carreno Busta will be also tough.”
“Historically Djokovic has played very well against Thiem, but Thiem is in great form,” admitted Moya. “I think it will be a long, tough and open battle – a match that people will love to watch.”
Djokovic leads Thiem 5-0 lifetime, including a comprehensive victory in the Rome semi-finals.