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Moya Streak Ends; Backs Nadal To Return 'Stronger Than Before'

Knokke-Heist, Belgium

Moya© ATP Champions Tour

Carlos Moya’s incredible winning streak on the ATP Champions Tour came to an end at the Optima Open on Thursday, but the Spaniard was philosophical after his 6-3, 3-6, 12-10 loss to Thomas Enqvist. He was also optimistic that his friend Rafael Nadal, who hasn’t played since Wimbledon and yesterday withdrew from the US Open, would return ‘stronger than before’ and win Grand Slam titles again.

Moya had won 12 matches in a row to top the South African Airways Rankings, but Enqvist is one of the fittest and most dangerous players on the ATP Champions Tour. The Swede led the Champions’ Tie-Break 9-4 but Moya saved five matches points to come back and level at 10-10 before going down 12-10.

“Thomas deserved to beat me today,” said Moya. “I kept fighting but Thomas was hitting the ball hard, serving well and playing fast so he just made it too tough for me today. In the tie break I fought so hard to get back into it but it wasn’t quite enough. Right now it’s going to be difficult for me to have a chance to defend to my title here, but I’m still going to try. I have great memories from last year here and there is such a great atmosphere here.”

Having helped mentor Nadal and known him for years, Moya has been distressed to see his friend struggling with injury, but he is confident that there is much more to come from his countryman.

“Rafa is going to come back for sure and he’s going to be stronger than he was before,” said Moya. “Of course I am worried - he’s been out since the second round of Wimbledon, but now he’s resting and having physio. Maybe if he had come back now he would have hurt the knee even more. Now he is very calm, he takes his time. Mentally he is such a great player and for sure he’s going to give everything. He will be 100% again and we will see him lifting another Grand Slam trophy. I feel sure of that.”

To watch a video of the Moya interview, go to our YouTube page.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Goran Ivanisevic defeated Guy Forget 6-4, 2-6, 10-8.

John McEnroe plays his first match in the Legends Group on Friday against Mats Wilander, and then meets Bjorn Borg on Saturday.

Matches in Knokke-Heist are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions’ Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner. After all round-robin matches are complete, the top two players in each group in the ATP Champions Tour event will meet in Sunday's final.

To view the round-robin groups and the order of play for the week in Knokke-Heist, go to results.

After Belgium, the circuit will move on to London for the Statoil Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall, 5th-9th December. McEnroe, Ivanisevic, Philippoussis, Wilander, Pat Cash and Tim Henman are all scheduled to play.

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