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Article: Rafael Nadal: Loyalty to Babolat

Rafael Nadal: Loyalty to Babolat

Rafael Nadal: Loyalty to Babolat



Rafael Nadal's loyalty to Babolat has cemented himself as an all time tennis great over the last two decades, with his aggressive baseline play and impressive fortitude. He's won 21 Grand Slam titles in his illustrious career (the most in history) including a record 13 French Open titles. Nadal's success in France may trace back to his early association with Babolat. He has stated that "The fact that it is a family business is something that gets me closer to them."


His association with Babolat goes back to when he was just nine years old, with the release of the Pure Drive in 1994.  When he turned pro in 2003, he started with the now defunct Babolat Soft Drive.


Babolat Soft Drive specifications. 

Head size: 100 sq. inches

Length: 27 inches

Unstrung weight: 9.5 oz. / 270 grams

Swing weight: 270

Stiffness: 65

Beam width: 22-26 mm

Composition: Graphite/Fiberglass

String pattern: 16x19


The Soft Drive was a heavy racket, designed for powerful groundstrokes. The main differences between this and the later Babolat models was the hefty swing weight and frame design. Incidentally, Rafael Nadal was playing with this model when he first faced his longtime rival, Roger Federer (Miami 2004)


In 2005, The French Tennis giants released the Babolat AeroPro Drive, which turned out to be Nadal's weapon of choice for the better part of a decade.


Babolat AeroPro Drive specifications 

Head Size: 100 sq. inches

Length: 27 inches

Unstrung Weight: 10.6 oz / 300 grams

Beam Width: 23-26-23 mm.

Swing Weight: 343

Stiffness: 72

Composition: Graphite/Tungsten

String Pattern: 16x19


The Spaniard won his first Grand Slam in 2005 (French Open) dominating his opponents with tenacity and flair. For the next ten years, Nadal would go on to play with the AeroPro Drive, winning several grand slams and ATP titles in the process. During these years, Nadal developed a topspin dominant style of play which would eventually be a sign of things to come....


In 2015, Babolat launched the Pure Aero, a racket that revolves around spin and control.

Babolat Pure Aero specifications 

Head size: 100 sq. inches

Length: 27 inches

Unstrung weight: 10.6 oz / 300 grams

Beam Width: 23-26-23 mm.

Swing weight: 324

Stiffness: 67

Composition: Graphite/Tungsten

String pattern: 16x19


Unfortunately Nadal suffered two unusually bad seasons in 2015 and 2016, and switching to the Pure Aero in 2015 didn't seem to make any positive impact on his game. In 2017, he decided to add two grams to the head of the racket, opting for more power, rather than spin. The subtle change turned out to be a successful one, as Nadal returned to his winning ways in the same season, winning the 2017 French Open. He became the first player in the Open era to win the same Grand Slam title ten times and Babolat marked the event by releasing a new limited-edition racquet: the Pure Aero Decima.


Babolat's president and chief executive explains "The aerodynamics of the Pure Aero are completely different to those of a traditional racket. Traditional rackets were made with the preparation for a stroke to be made horizontally, but the Pure Aero has evolved to allow for an almost vertical preparation to generate the topspin.’ The close-knit family enterprise that Babolat is fits perfectly with the close-knit family operation that has been the bedrock of Rafael Nadal’s career. It was once suggested that racket companies would line up to throw big bucks at him to use their equipment, but money is not a factor in this case. 


In an overall sense, the relationship between Rafael Nadal and Babolat is a special one, that has lasted five generations. Babolat have maintained their high standards, designing rackets for tennis champions. And Nadal has developed his topspin heavy game with the help of different Babolat rackets. And he has never broken a racket in anger stating "It’s the way I was taught. Even when I was a kid, I never threw my racket." 





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