Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is a 17-time men's singles Grand Slam champion. In this picture, Nadal reacts as he poses with La Coupe des Mousquetaires (The Musketeers' Trophy) after defeating Austria's Dominic Thiem in their men's singles final match on day fifteen of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris, June 10, 2018. OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal is rightly anointed the ‘King of Clay’ and over the years he has proven that he is the greatest ever to play on the red dirt. His coach Carlos Moya believes his feats on the surface will be unrepeatable, but he named a player that can come close once the Spaniard calls time on his career.

Nadal was never gifted with the raw talent that Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic possess, but he possesses a strength that is very unique, according to his current coach, who is a former world number one.

But despite that, Nadal has won 17 men’s singles Grand Slam titles of which 11 have come on clay at Roland Garros. Apart from that, he has also won the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open on 11 occasions to show his dominance on the surface.

The 32-year-old was beaten just twice on his favorite surface in the last 24 months, picking up eight titles in the process. Moya believes the discipline and “winning spirit” that Nadal possesses is difficult to find among players of the current generation and past generations and believes that’s what makes him stand out from the rest.

Dominic Thiem has been anointed as a likely successor to Nadal on clay — and it is a claim that is based on the Austrian’s proven success on the surface. Both Nadal’s losses on the red dirt have come against Thiem, while he was also the losing finalist at Roland Garros in 2018.

The 24-year-old has won 10 ATP titles thus far and eight of them have been on clay. However, he is yet to win a major event on his favorite surface — all his wins thus far was in the ATP 250 events.

“I think he [Nadal] is unique,” Moya said, as quoted by the Express. “I didn’t know players of the past and current generation who have his same characters.”

“Today the new generation players are very talented, others have a big serve, others hit well from the baseline. But I think what Rafa had for his whole life, his discipline, his winner fighting spirit is difficult to find nowadays,” he added.

“I think Thiem is the one who can get the closest to him, but what Rafa did will be unrepeatable,” Moya said.

Moya took over as Nadal’s head coach at the start of the 2018 season after the world number one’s uncle Toni Nadal stepped down from his position at the end of the 2017 campaign. Uncle Toni, as he is fondly known, had been his coach since childhood and is the most successful coach in tennis history having led his charge to 16 Grand Slam titles.

“It’s difficult to tell in what aspect you help him (Nadal),” the former world number one said talking about coaching one of the most successful players in the history of the game. “The most important thing is that the player wants to improve, grow up and with this mentality it’s easier.”