Posted on May 18 2021
Rafael Nadal beat his rival Novak Djokovic in Rome on Sunday, capturing his 10th title in the eternal city and finishing off his Roland Garros preparations with a flourish. Here at All Things Tennis, we’re taking a look at the equipment he uses to aid him in his continued clay court domination.
After winning a record equalling 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome, Rafael Nadal is continuing to further his case for the ‘greatest player of all time’ title, currently up for grabs amongst the ‘big 3’. But rather than contribute more to the ocean of content expressing adulation and admiration for Nadal and his achievements, let’s take a look at what equipment he uses that works so very well for him.
Racket: Babolat Pure Aero Rafa
We’ll start with the obvious, his racket. Nadal has used the Pure Aero ever since it was first released back in 2004. The racket was practically made for him when he became Babolat’s most lucrative endorser as a young talent. Apart from a short period in 2015, Nadal has used the Pure Aero for his entire professional career, and it’s become one of the most popular rackets on the market. It’s aerodynamic frame, thick beam and 100 square inch head size make it one of the most spin-friendly frames you can buy.
Strings: Babolat RPM Blast
After a relatively disappointing season in 2009, Nadal switched to the Babolat RPM Blast at the start of 2010. They were designed specifically to provide him with more power and spin potential, without sacrificing feel. Rafa then went on to completely dominate the men’s game in 2010, winning 3 slams and finishing as world number 1. From then on, he’s used and endorsed the RPM Blast strings that took his game to another level. Many other ATP and WTA player then followed suit and started playing with RPM Blast which remains an incredibly popular string due to its immense spin potential.
String Tension: 55 Ibs
Nadal has his rackets strung at 55 Ibs all year round. Rather than tweaking his tension depending on the conditions, Rafa prefers to have the same set up wherever he plays and on whichever surface. 55 Ibs is on the high end of tension on the ATP Tour, with most players stringing their poly strings in the 40s. Nadal needs a relatively high amount of string tension to help control his natural power. The Pure Aero’s string range is 50-59 Ibs.
Grip Size: 2
Rafa uses a small grip size relative to the size of his hands. He uses a size 2 grip with one overgrip. Nadal uses a small grip size in order to maximise the topspin he is able to create, particularly on his forehand. Using a smaller grip size allows you to manipulate the racket more with your hand and wrist, allowing for more topspin generation.
Note: Don’t expect to hit a perfect buggy whip forehand just by imitating Rafa’s gear set-up, but perhaps elements of his racket preferences can help you when purchasing new equipment. However, it’s always best to consult a professional when shopping around for new tennis gear.
Written by Aron Dochard
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