Carlos Moya, coach of Rafael Nadal, has compared the Spaniard to Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in terms of the affect they have on their respective teams.

Nadal recently returned from a hip injury he suffered in January to help Spain record a quarterfinal victory over Germany in the Davis Cup. It was his first match in over two months and he showed no signs of rust as he won both his singles matches to help his country progress to the last four.

The 16-time men’s singles Grand Slam winner was not 100 perfect fit coming into the game against the German’s but his coach was hopeful a couple of wins will boost his confidence going into the clay court swing of the season, where he has to defend 4,680-points.

Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal played a key role to help Spain beat Germany in the quarterfinal of the Davis Cup. In this picture, Spain's Nadal celebrates winning the Davis Cup final fourth match against Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro at La Cartuja Olympic stadium in Sevilla, Dec. 4, 2011. Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images

Nadal won his first match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, but Spain were 2-1 down going into the final day after David Ferrer lost his first singles to Alexander Zverev, while Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez lost their doubles. Spain went into the final day needing to win both their singles to progress.

The 31-year-old was pitted against the in-form Zverev, who was coming into the tournament following a run to the finals at the Miami Open. It was expected to be a tough match for Nadal, but the world number one showed why he is considered the most dominant clay court player in the history of the sport by dispatching his opponent in straight sets.

Ferrer went on to clinch the tie for Spain after a five set victory over Kohlschreiber. Moya, who was initially apprehensive about Nadal rushing back to action believes the ten-time French Open winner’s presence takes away the pressure from the rest of the players. Also, the belief he will win his singles matches allows the other players to play with freedom similar to Messi, who absorbs most of the pressure when Barcelona play their matches.

“Besides his motivation and his team spirit, being next to Rafa takes away pressure,” Moya said, as quoted by the Express. “You almost have the guarantee that he will win his two singles (matches), which helps his teammates to be free. ... I would compare it with (Leo) Messi in Barcelona.” 

Moya also spoke about how Nadal has evolved over the years to remain competitive. The Spanish tennis star won his first Grand Slam title in 2005 and since won at least one every season until 2014. There was small drought in 2015 and 2016 before he came back to win the French Open and the US Open in 2017.

He returned to the top of the ATP men’s singles ranking last season and after a brief spell at number two at the start of this year, he is now back at the summit. Moya, also a former world number one, revealed he has had to make changes to his game along the way to ensure he remains fit and challenging for the top titles.

“14 years later keeps winning Grand Slam titles and is No 1, obviously had to evolve,” Nadal’s coach added. “He is better, more experienced, physically with limits due to age, but as time goes on he has understood the game, taken correct decisions, known that what he was doing at 20 years old now is not needed.”

Nadal will play an ATP Tour event for the first time in 2018 when he takes the court at the Monte Carlo Masters, which begins Sunday. He is the defending champion at the Principality and is seeking an unprecedented 11th title in Monaco.