Article from Tennis Week
[From Tennis Week]
Moya Sets Sights On Return To Top
Photo By Cynthia Lum By Adrianna Outlaw
Four years ago, Carlos Moya was the best player on the planet. Today, the stylish Spaniard believes he's even better than he was when he reached the top of tennis and that his best tennis is yet to come.
"I am a better player now than when I was world No. 1," Moya told The Sunday Telegraph. "I am a more complete player, more mature and four years older. I have the experience to know now what it takes to win and have belief in myself."
Only two players in the top 10 — the seemingly ageless Andre Agassi, who celebrates his 34th birthday in April and sixth-ranked Rainer Schuettler (27 years, eight months) — are older than Moya, who celebrated his 27th birthday on August 27th. But the man from Mallorca, who used his formidable forehand to post a 58-22 record and win three tournament titles in 2003, believes he has the weapons to challenge tennis' young guns for the top spot in the rankings in 2004.
"Having been in the top 10, four times at the end of the year, I know what is needed to get back to No. 1," Moya told The Sunday Telegraph. "To be No1 again I need to win another grand slam next year and for me that is a great challenge."
The 1998 Roland Garros champion plans to play the adidas International, which begins on January 12th in Sydney, as preparation for the Australian Open. The man who often sports sleeveless Nike shirts, believes he's well-armed to win in Sydney.
"Now I am in the top 10 again and feeling fit and confident, I can win this tournament," Moya said.
In his last appearance at the event, Moya reached the 1997 Sydney final, falling to Tim Henman. He carried that form onto the Rebound Ace surface of the 1997 Australian Open, advancing to his first Grand Slam final where he succumbed to Pete Sampras, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. The next year, Moya captured the Roland Garros title before rising to the top of the rankings in March of 1999.
He seemed to solidify his status as a top-10 mainstay, but injuries (Moya suffered a stress fracture in his back in 1999) and questions surrounding his commitment began to emerge and Moya failed to finish in the top 10 for three consecutive years.
A recent resurgence saw Moya finish the 2002 season ranked No. 5. He concluded 2003 ranked seventh as he completed the season by qualifying for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup for the second straight year before stunning Mark Philippoussis on the grass courts of Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena to account for Spain's sole point in its 3-1 setback to Australia in the Davis Cup final.
Moya was not a member of the Spanish Davis Cup squad that captured the country's first Davis Cup championship with a 3-1 triumph over Australia in 2000, but he's looking forward to competing for his country again in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
"I heard Lleyton will not play the Olympics at Athens next year, but for me, I shall be there with Juan Carlos (Ferrero)," Moya said. "It is a great honor to play for my country, if I get the chance. The same as it is for Davis Cup."
Moya has grown and so has his game. His forceful forehand and strengthened serve remain his signature shots, but Moya has managed his weaker backhand side more effectively and has shown a willingness to move forward in the court and punctuate points at the net with his solid volley. He has caused headaches for Hewitt, winning five of his eight matches with the former No. 1, by alternating high topspin shots that often pin Hewitt into defensive positions behind the baseline with flat forehands that can elude the fleet-footed Aussie.
Though he's scripted great success against the former Wimbledon winner, Moya isn't ready to write off the 17th-ranked Hewitt in his quest to return to the top of tennis.
"They (Andy Roddick, Roger Federer and Juan Carlos Ferrero) are still very young, but Lleyton Hewitt has been there and is a great champion," Moya told The Sunday Telegraph. "We have had some great matches and Lleyton is only 22 too and for sure he can get back to top 10 and probably No. 1."