This is a translation of the interview with Moya and Nadal that was published last weekend in "Magazine", the weekend supplement 24/07/05 with Diario de Mallorca.
Moya and Nadal, Mallorca's two tennis stars
Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal :
top sportsmen, champions of Roland Garros, two different success stories but both with their origin in Mallorca. There is an age difference of ten years between them, one is on the way in and the other is on the way back, the older Moya is all experienced calm; the nervy youngster Nadal is anxious to conquer the world. The Magazine
brought them together in Mallorca.
The images the two men project could not be any more different:
, who has just turned nineteen, has made an extraordinary impact on tennis, just as Fernando Alonso has on F1. Nadal may be young but the fierce look in his eyes is that of a champion. He punches the air with his muscular left arm after every victory, celebrates every point he wins, and he always wins on clay. He is the third best tennis player in the world after Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt, but he says he still has to improve his game considerably if he wants to be number one. He knows exactly what he wants to achieve and how to go about achieving it.
, who is about to be 29, has already been the world's number one tennis player, Spain's first. His handsome, slim, elegant physique, his way of thinking, always trying to be genuine, his powerful game suited to all surfaces, with those precise forehands, made him a worthy succesor to Sergi Bruguera. But he has never had the killer instinct that can be seen in one look from Nadal. He seems to have given just the necessary on court, always bearing in mind that a tennis racket was not the be all and end all of everything in his life.
Moya signs autographs with his left hand, but plays with the right. Nadal, who is right handed, plays left-handed.
At a time when tennis needs outstanding figures, Nadal is admired in the US as Andre Agassi's successor, and legends of the game like John McEnroe applaud the fact that we can once again enjoy watching fantastic tennis players with character, who love winning, who connect with the public, but who, above all, are humble and well mannered.
Moya and Nadal are champions at that as well.
How has Mallorcan tennis managed to produce two Grand Slam winners in seven years?
It's a happy coincidence. First a player like Carlos Moya appears, and even reaches the world number one spot, and now I've come along. I'm full of illusion and working very hard because playing tennis is what I like most. It's also a coincidence that two Mallorcans have won RG, in 1998 and 2005. If only, in the next few months, there could be two Mallorcans together in the world's top ten. That would be incredible, really historic for Mallorca.
I must say it's incredible that in such a short period of time the island has produced two champions of Roland Garros, the Grand Slam tournament that all Spaniards want to win, and that we have both been in the world's top ten. The difficult bit's been done. There's a long tradition of tennis on Mallorca, and the fact that two players like us have sprung from the Balearics means that the kids not only want to play football but tennis, too, and that the sport's becoming more popular. All that is very positive for the country in general. I think that all the hype's being put to good use and that there are other youngsters following in our footsteps. For example, not long ago the Spanish junior final was fought out between two kids from Mallorca. There's a lot of good work being done and it has to be kept up to ensure that we keep on producing champions in the future.
MOYA : IF YOU DON'T DEVELOP YOUR GAME, YOU CAN RAPIDLY DROP OUT OF THE TOP TEN. EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR GAME, SO EVERY YEAR YOU HAVE TO TRY TO IMPROVE IT A LITTLE.
NADAL : YOU HAVE TO MAINTAIN YOUR ILLUSION AND BE VERY HUMBLE.
Carlos Moya, you are an established player, you know what it is to be at the top, you know what fame is; and you, Rafael Nadal, have just reached these dizzy heights. What does a top player have to worry about once he's up there?
You have to be prepared for lots of things, many good ones and some bad. If you work hard, are lucky enough not to get injured, have a good level and are not a conformist, then I think you can last up there. Of course, there's lots of competition, every year new young players come out on court with one desire - to beat you, because they get more points for defeating someone above them in the ranking. If you don't work hard, if you don't develop and improve your game, you can very rapidly fall out of the top ten. Everybody knows your game well so every year you have to try to improve a little, even if it's only 1%. You have to introduce something different so that your opponents don't get used to you and can easily find your weak points.
I think what you have to try to maintain most is the illusion to go on improving and you have to have the humility to keep on doing the hard day-in day-out work that has taken you to the top. What Carlos says is true. But I also think that you have to know how to deal with the situation, how to enjoy it, because there are moments for everything. The most important thing for oneself is to be happy. When you are happy, everything is bound to go much better for you. Everybody tries to find a job at what they like most and we are lucky to work at this sport that excites us so much. We love the competition, we can compete almost every week. Not everyone is as fortunate as us.
Rafa has mentioned some very important values and you have to be able to fall back on them. I think that we both hold the view that the greatest victory is being happy. How to be happy? Well that depends on each one. I have been happy, I have enjoyed my career very much, and I still enjoy it. I have tried to make friends, and I have, and to realise that tennis is my job but there are more important things than a tennis racket. At present we have many advantages, we are very privileged, but one day this will come to an end and you will reap what you have sown. It's the person you are that really counts.
Moya has been in love with tennis and now he is in love with something more important, the truth. Nadal is at the moment experiencing absolute passion for tennis...
I think we both still enjoy competing but perhaps we now have different aspirations. I'm younger than Carlos and I imagine that he had similar goals to mine when he was my age, now perhaps he's fighting to remain among the best while my ambition is to maintain my position at the top for several years. We both love our work and I don't only enjoy competing at tennis, I'm very competitive at everything. I love it, and moreover I can do it every week!
What you have to have quite clear is that you can go up or down and it's easier to go down. Rafa will find it difficult to be any higher up than where he is, but the moment he relaxes a little or gets injured.... In this aspect tennis is a very hard demanding sport. Having a ranking every week has its advantages. You are exactly where you deserve to be, you have to work to get there, and no matter how many 'contacts' you have, if you don't win, you don't climb the rankings. You are there on your own merits. The bad thing about it is that you cannot relax: if you are injured, you are bound to slip down the table; if your confidence goes, the same thing happens. Tennis is not like a team sport where they don't have these rankings; you can be injured for a whole year and not know if you're still one of the best players in the world or not. In tennis, the ranking list is there, and if you deserve to be high up on it you'll be there, and if not, you won't.
I agree. Last year something like that happened to me, at a different level. I had started the season really well and was climbing the rankings. I was 33rd in the world when I got injured and when I returned I had slipped to number 70, and had neither the game nor the confidence I had had before. So it was a great effort to get back to where I had been. Through hard work and constancy, I've gradually won back the placings I had lost when I thought I was doing fine.
MOYA: EIGHTY PER CENT OF MY FRIENDS ARE NOT FROM THE TENNIS WORLD. I'VE ALWAYS KNOWN WHO I HAD AT MY SIDE.
NADAL: I KNOW I'M GROWING AND AT THE MOMENT I'M CLIMBING, BUT I ALSO KNOW THAT I MAY FALL.
You live surrounded by fame, money and self-interested "friends"......
You have to keep your wits about you. There are many people interested in being your friend when you are at the top. But often it's only when your success goes that you realise it. I've always known who I had at my side, in my team, and perhaps because of this I've not experienced any deceptions in my life as a tennis player. Eighty or ninety per cent of my friends are not from the tennis world, they are from here in Mallorca, from school. I've known them since I was ten years old. Only about ten per cent of my friends come from this latest period of my life. If you have your feet on the ground and know what's out there, it's difficult to get swollen headed and let yourself get carried away by the fame and the money
I think rather the same. I haven't been in this for so long, I don't yet know what fame is, but most of my friends are from my hometown, from Manacor, from school, since when I was four years old. I also have friends from tennis, but they're the minority. I think it's true that you have to keep your feet on the ground. I know that I'm growing and at the moment I'm climbing the rankings, but I could just as easily fall back down. In my view, it's important not to get frustrated and to be as happy now that I'm up at the top as when I was lower down. You have to be ready for anything. I think that at Carlos' age, for example, the people you have around you are not so important...
What's wrong with my age, kid?!
..... But, at my age, it's very important to have a good group of people around you. If I've got this far, it's thanks to my family who have helped me, who have protected me, and have taught me that tennis is only a sport, that there are more important things in life, that above all you have to be very humble to keep on working whatever happens, whether you're successful or not. This is very important to me, especially as regards my general upbringing, outside of tennis.
Here in Mallorca family tradition is very strong, people from here are very close to the family. I know I was, and still am even at my age. I think that the family instill values and, as Rafa says, they help you to see that there's more to life than tennis. A member of his family, the footballer Miguel Angel Nadal, has been an extremely successful sportsman and perhaps they already knew how to behave, how to cope with something like that. In my family, on the other hand, celebrity was new to them. I think they have borne it well, they have been very much involved, which I appreciate as much as their inconditional support at the most difficult times.
MAGAZINE Diario de Mallorca 24/07/2005