Spain's new Davis Cup captain gave an interview to the Mutua Madrid Open website in which he spoke of what the position means to him and the goals he has set for himself.
Carlos Moyá was recently appointed as Spain’s new captain for the Davis Cup, a tournament which he competed in on several occasions, most memorably when he helped the side lift the trophy in 2004 in Sevilla.
In an interview with the website for the Mutua Madrid Open, a tournament at which he worked as a link between the players and the organisers, the Mallorca native spoke of what it means to him to be captain and the goals he has set himself, as well as touching on his career and the current state of tennis.
- You were recently chosen as the captain of the Spanish Davis Cup team. What does that mean to you?
It is an honour. I am very proud and satisfied to be at the helm of a team with such great players. Now the challenge is to do as well as possible and try and bring the trophy back. I know it will be difficult, it is not an easy year with several playoffs away from home, but above all I am proud of having this team under my orders.
- You have already won the Davis Cup as a player and you have a lot of experience in the tournament. What makes the competition so special?
Above all the fact that it is the only official team competition on the calendar. The format is different, you play Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and that makes it a little special, and you feel different in the Davis Cup to how you would feel in another tournament, be it a Grand Slam or a Masters 1000. I am not saying it is more important, but it is different. You have a whole country behind you and you can tell. If you can cope with the pressure, I think it makes you give 110 per cent.
- What are the main goals you have set for yourself in this new phase of your career?
Winning the trophy. On a sporting level, that is the goal. We are Spain, we have the number 1 and number 3 in the world, several others in the top 20, two pairs in the top five in the world… so we have to aim for the top. Managing the team will be the most important thing. Now I will be their coach. I am not going to make them play good tennis, or bad tennis, in other words, they will not improve under me, nothing of the sort. It is more about managing the team and giving my outside point of view at key moments and offering my experience from the past.
- You know all the players at your disposal very well. Have you had time to speak to them since you were appointed as captain?
Well, I haven’t spoken much. At the moment they are really focused on their competitions. We have players who are fighting to be the number one in the world, the world number three, fighting to get into the top ten or the Masters in London in the case of the doubles, etc. So I decided to give them space and to let them concentrate on that and I will have time to meet them later.
- Just a few years ago you ended your career as a player and since then you have played on the seniors tour, you have worked as a spokesperson for the players at the Mutua Madrid Open and started a tennis academy. Have you had time to miss elite tennis?
Yes, that is what I miss the most: the adrenalin of competition. I think it is the only thing I have missed really. The rest I don’t miss so much. The travelling, being away for a long time, packing and unpacking, the mental strain of being a player, etc. I don’t miss any of that, but competition itself, that is what I miss.
- During your long playing career you won 20 ATP titles, including the French Open in 1998, you reached the finals of the Australian Open and the Masters Cup, you were world number one and won a Davis Cup with Spain, among many other achievements. Which of these do you treasure the most?
On an emotional level I have always said that the victory in Seville in the final of the Davis Cup is the biggest thing that happened to me. My experiences there in front of 27,000 supporters and winning the trophy at home is practically unbeatable on an emotional level. Then, obviously, on a sporting level, nothing compares to being number one and winning a Grand Slam.
- You have experienced the Mutua Madrid Open from the inside and you know the tournament perfectly. What does a tournament like this mean to a city like Madrid?
We are talking about a huge tournament which is very well organised. It is the capital of Spain and the best players in the world play. I think the potential of Spain’s players and its history in the world of tennis was necessary to host a tournament like that, let’s hope it continues for many years.
- Two years ago you started a tennis academy. What do you try to instil in the children at your academy so that they can go a long way in tennis?
A fighting spirit, sacrifice, team play, behaving like a team, respect for your opponent. These are values that sport teaches you, values people have taught me, that I have learnt throughout my career and that I try to transmit to the children at my academy.
- You are in contact with some of the potential stars of future tennis. What do you see for the future of Spanish tennis after an era as brilliant as the one we are experiencing now?
I think it will be difficult to match what we have had in recent years, but we do have players coming who are looking very impressive. We have now won the Junior Davis Cup, which means the youth system is working. Players are maturing later at the moment and it would be difficult to have a Nadal among the top ten in the world at 17 or 18 years of age or even in the top 100. It will not be easy, but I think good work is happening with youths at the moment.