The US Open is here and Rafael Nadal is bidding for his fifth title in Flushing Meadows, New York, as well as a record-23rd Grand Slam title.
It has been a rollercoaster year for the former world no.1. The Spaniard won the Australian and French Open, but has been sidelined recently with a rib stress fracture and abdominal tear.
Despite the setbacks, Nadal is one of the favorites to claim the men’s singles titles in New York. The 36-year-old is already a legend of the game and has another great opportunity to add to his historic legacy.
Marc Lopez was added to Nadal’s coaching team last year
Ahead of the 2022 season, Nadal roped in former player turned coach Marc Lopez for his team. Lopez is a former doubles world No. 3 and has a close friendship with Nadal, having won five doubles titles together. Most notably, Lopez and Nadal won the men’s doubles event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I’ve shared many moments with Rafa, but as a friend. Now it’s different,” Lopez said ahead of the 2022 Australian Open.
This was not Lopez’s first coaching role, though, having previously worked with Feliciano Lopez.
Speaking about being Nadal’s coach, Lopez added: “I’m very familiar with how he plays, but off court he’s a person, he has his thoughts and his doubts. Having a person who’s close [to him] is very important. My role is to try and give him a hand with as much as possible.
“On court I change my mindset and tell him what I’m seeing, and off court we have the same relationship as before. His surroundings are very important to him. I’m one of his best friends and we joke around and have a good time. It’s important that he feels comfortable at all times.”
Rafael Nadal’s 2022 coaching team in full
Rafael Nada’s 2022 coaching team aka ‘Team Nadal’ is made up of three primary coaches, including Lopez. The other two are Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig, who all work together to enable Rafa to perform to the best of his ability.
Francisco Roig has been a member of Rafael Nadal’s coaching staff since 2005. The Spaniard is a former professional player himself who primarily played doubles, winning 9 ATP World Tour titles and reaching 12 more finals.
Roig has been with Nadal since before his first Grand Slam title, and says the thing that surprises him most about Rafa is ‘his humility, his ability to keep listening, and his ability to keep improving.’
The influence of Carlos Moya
Since 2017, former world no.1 and 1998 French Open champion Carlos Moya has been part of Nadal’s coaching team. He is also technical director of the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy in Mallorca.
Speaking about how his coaching style has changed with Rafa over the years, Moya said: “I used to tell him much more, when we started working together.
“At first, when someone new arrives, you try to instill things in them. Not too much, because it dilutes the message, but now it’s more reminders of aspects that have been forgotten. A couple of years ago it was more tactical, but now it is all better established in his mind.”
Besides coaches, Nadal’s team is made up of various individuals who are often in his family box during matches.
They include Titín [Rafael Maymò], who has been Nadal’s physiotherapist since 2006, Benito Pérez-Barbadillo, Nadal’s head of communications, and Carlos Costa, Rafa’s agent and Head of Business Development at his tennis academy.
Nadal’s father, Sebastian Nadal, is also usually with the team during big matches.
Nadal’s separation from Uncle Toni
Nadal’s “Uncle Toni” famously coached his nephew from childhood, and was a part of his team until he stepped away in 2017.
Toni made the decision in order to devote more time and development to young players at the Rafael Nadal Academy. It was during this time that Carlos Moya took over as Nadal’s lead coach.
Per the Academy’s website, Toni Nadal is the Head of Academy. Toni is also back on the ATP Tour, as he is the current head coach of Canadian world no.8 Felix Auger-Aliassime.