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Sports Then and Now



The Glory and Struggles of Carlos Moya 3

Posted on May 15, 2010 by Rob York

Carlos Moya is no longer the young Spaniard who first burst on the scene in 1997.

Somewhere in his memory it will always be January 1997, and he’ll be playing a hard-serving German on a slow, hard Australian court. The tall, hard-serving German named Becker is going into this first-round match at the year’s first major as defending champion, and considered a heavy favorite against the Spaniard with the heavy topspin forehand.

Unfortunately for the German, the 20-year-old Spaniard named Carlos Moya is almost the same height, has a big serve of his own and, yes, a heavy topspin forehand, accentuated with graceful, fleet-footed court coverage. On this day the news will be that six-time Slam winner Boris Becker has become the first defending champion of the AO to lose in round one–a result that may motivate him, six months later, to decide that he’s done playing in the Slams.

What wasn’t known at the time was that the result will spark a run for the Majorcan, carrying him all the way to the finals, crushing Michael Chang in the semis and setting up an appointment with Pete Sampras in the final.

He won’t win the title, but in a game fragmented into clay- and hard-court specialists, Moya appears to have the game for both surfaces.

Somewhere else in his mind, it’ll always be Paris. Just a year and a half after he announced his presence in Australia, he used Roland Garros to show what that presence meant.

Here in the late ’90s there are many Spaniards, from Albert Costa to Felix Mantilla to Alex Corretja, all of whom have similar heavy forehands and good wheels, making them a nightmare assignment on the dirt. For two weeks in 1998, Moya looks like the future of Spanish tennis. Using his big first serve, flat backhand, and, of course, that big forehand to overpower Mantilla in the semis and then oust Corretja in the final. Read the rest of this entry →

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