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CARLOS MOYA: RAFAEL NADAL MOTIVATED FOR MORE BIG WINS AFTER AUSTRALIAN OPEN TRIUMPH

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“We’re taking it week by week,” assures the former No. 1 after Nadal captured his 21st major title in Melbourne.

Breaking the Grand Slam record won’t change Rafael Nadal’s motivation but he will have to be cautious about his scheduling going forward, says Carlos Moya, his coach for six years.

Nadal just won the Australian Open, edging Daniil Medvedev in five sets with a remarkable comeback from two sets down, and now has 21 Grand Slam titles.

“It is winning a Slam,” Moya told L’Équipe in an interview. “It doesn’t matter if it is 21 or 25 or 30. He likes to be competitive, he likes to stay healthy.

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“That is the most important thing for him. Then if he finishes with 25, he is only looking at what he’s doing for himself. And he’s happy with that. He never compares himself with any other player. It’s more a media thing, I think, or even a fan thing, but he just wants to keep improving and evolving and be a contender for Slams for many more years to come.”

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The Australian swing was the 35-year-old Nadal’s first competitive appearance since the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., because of a recurring foot injury, and he underwent a procedure that left him on crutches when other players were contesting the US Open.

Returning at the Abu Dhabi exhibition during the offseason, he tested positive for coronavirus, but won a warm-up event in Melbourne. Then he went five sets against Denis Shapovalov and Medvedev at the Australian Open.

“It was not the best preparation, but that’s Rafa,” he said. “He was very close to losing but he kept fighting, he is a survivor and he managed to find a way to come back.”

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But the victory was also draining, and there are still ongoing foot concerns.

“Historically it’s always been better on clay—it’s less stressful on the foot,” Moya said. “But we’re going step-by-step now and we’re thinking week by week because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. He has been very good with the foot this week. Hopefully, that’s something in the past, but…no one can be sure. Obviously, the objective is Roland Garros. It’s the main tournament for him, but we’ll think about it [then]. Now he has Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami, so we’ll think about that.”

According to the Daily Mail, Nadal is still deciding whether he will play Acapulco or Miami, but is aiming to play Indian Wells.

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He usually also plays a full clay-court season, but has not confirmed his schedule