“I’m still surprised by Nadal’s ability to overcome”


Marc López (Barcelona, ​​39 years old) joined Nadal’s team at the end of 2021 to act as coach alongside Carlos Moyá and Francis Roig. Friend and doubles partner of the Balearic Islands, with whom he won Olympic gold in Rio 2016, he has not yet fully retired (he wants to do it this year in Barcelona) and is looking forward to an opportunity that he considers “unique”. In Melbourne, he talks to AS about his new job and describes what the 20-time Grand Slam winner is like as a player and person before last night’s quarter-final against Denis Shapovalov.

-How did the possibility of working with Nadal come about?

-Last year I played with a protected ranking, because I had an anxiety problem that took me away from the courts. I went back to racing and it didn’t go very well. I wasn’t sure where to go. I had recently become a father and I was left without a doubles ranking. I didn’t know whether to continue playing or not and Carlos Moyá called me to tell me that they were thinking of hiring someone for the team. I told him that I had to think about it because of the paternity issue, the trips… But 30 seconds later I called him and told him if Rafa thought it was okay for me, it would be an honor and a privilege.

-And you had trained with him many times, does that help you in your work now?

-We are friends since childhood, I had done many times sparring and had gone to some preseason in Mallorca. Also in tournaments when we coincided, sometimes I helped him with something specific, they told me if he was available and I was there whenever I could to train or whatever. So yeah, I’ve known him well for years.

-How has it been within the group?

-Better impossible since we started in Mallorca to do the preseason. Apart from co-workers now, I consider them my friends, both the representative (Carlos Costa), and Benito Pérez Barbadillo (the press officer), Carlos (Moyá), Francis (Roig), Maymó (the physio). I have felt very comfortable from the beginning and it is a pleasure and it is a pleasure to be able to work with people who are so close to you who help you in everything and from whom you can learn. On top of that, they are great people who make you better every day. I am delighted to be here with them, it is going very well.

-What do you offer to ‘Team Nadal’?

-I come with the idea of ​​contributing, of helping Rafa and both Francis and Carlos as much as possible, so that they have another external opinion that they can use. I also come to learn from them, because they are people who have been training for many years and are great technicians. I will try to contribute my grain of sand. What we all want is for Rafa to do better.

-What you have seen here, generates illusion in terms of the duration of your career?

-You have to be positive, but also realistic. Sometimes he has physical problems, like last year. Beyond thinking about the future, we live in the moment. Each tournament is a world. Now he is feeling very good and we see him very well. Let’s hope it continues.

-Nadal is in his umpteenth resurrection, how do you live that process being with him?

-From the inside it is the same as seen from the outside. Rafa is so competitive and a winner that he always has the ability to turn it around, even though he goes through a lot of problems like the ones he’s been through due to injuries. Last year was very complicated for him because of his foot problems, but he has a great capacity for suffering and overcoming, more than the rest of the people. He caught COVID just before coming here and he overcame it, won a tournament and reached the quarterfinals, physically fit, moving better. He hadn’t competed for five months and he picked up the rhythm of the game very quickly. His ability to overcome is incredible and I, knowing him well and being part of the team now, still surprise me.

-Do you sometimes have to stop Rafa in training?

-He has the habit of training more. Until he feels perfection in the blow, he doesn’t stop. Years have passed and the physique is no longer the same. Sometimes what you have to try is that when you are on the track you give your best. If it is in half an hour less, better. What is not good is staying longer than usual, because I think Rafa has the ability to find himself very quickly, although he manages such a great demand that sometimes until he feels perfect he can spend two hours on the track.

– Is there any goal of the game to prevent the foot from suffering?

-Rafa must dominate the point, because he has the ability to accelerate and play that allows him to command. Physically, he cannot reach all the balls as he did in previous years, so he has to play bravely, attack above all with his forehand, change heights, enter the court more. He must play aggressively and has been doing so for a long time.

“Nadal has to dominate, be brave”


-That starts from the serve…

-Well, and from the rest as well.

-Yes, but the evolution of your service has been tremendous, do you agree?

-It has been progressing as the years have passed. Sometimes I watch videos of his beginnings and he played a little more conservatively than now. The backhand does it better, the serve… It has been adapting to the needs of current tennis, very quickly. Physically he is still very good and he continues to recover many balls, but it is true that with the speed that people throw now, sometimes there is less time and it is impossible to recover. That’s why you have to send more. The speed of the second serve has increased a lot, because he has realized, with his technical team, and now with me, that he has to be more courageous so that they do not attack him from the start. And the rest is also very important to do the beginning of the play well.

-How does communication work with Rafa on the track?

-Sometimes it is not necessary to speak to know what he is thinking, but he is very clear about how he should play. And you suffer a lot from the outside, because you also know what he trains and what he sacrifices so that things go well for him. He is someone who always gives his best. I tell him that he can stay calm, because in each training session he is focused and tries to improve. In life you have to go through suffering and it is an honor to be by his side, because you realize every day what a great example he is as an athlete and, although it sounds a bit ballsy, also as a person, because he has incredible values .

-How do you evaluate your performance in Australia?

-For me it is already a positive tour because of how it came. He has only lost one set and now the most complicated part remains, with people of a higher level who have already been playing very well like you. For him there will be no

-Together they won the Olympic gold in Rio 2016, how was that experience?

-Incredible. We got together a bit at the end because he was originally going to play with Verdasco and I was going to play with Feliciano (López), but for different reasons in the end neither Feli nor Fernando could go and we got together. The truth is that from the beginning we were very good. Apart from how well it went on the track and that we won, the previous coexistence was important, being in the Village together with the whole team, sleeping in the same room, watching movies or series every day before going to sleep. I knew it was a unique opportunity for me and I still get excited.

-You who know him and have been with him a lot in many situations, how do you think he carries the weight of being the idol he is, a benchmark in Spain and around the world?

-He has been like this for many years and is used to living these situations. I tell him that I am amazed at the closeness and kindness he has with all his fans. I think he values ​​a lot that they follow him so much and that many people have him as a reference.

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