Rafael Nadal’s personality, game style and equipment choices are some of the most recognisable features in tennis. We’ll leave the “t-shirt and short pulling” preparation antics on serve out of our discussion, but Nadal possesses, arguably, the most lethal forehand in tennis.
As with any player who is able to generate a huge amount of racket head speed like the big man, it becomes a case of the following.
Do you choose a racket to strengthen your weapons, or to control them?
In a few moments time, we’ll go on to demonstrate how his choice of equipment answers this question perfectly. However, it’s also a question that the club player should also hold in the forefront of their mind when selecting equipment.
We launched our own Custom Fitting Service to help players find answers to these types of questions and find an ideal equipment match from their game. We haven’t heard from Nadal yet (insert chuckle!), but we can’t see him changing his formidable set of equipment specs any time soon.
Nadal plays the famous Babolat Pure Aero; its unmistakable, garish yellow frame resembling an insane, revolving Catherine wheel as Nadal wields it in his hand like a Marvel Superhero (apologies to any DC Comics fans). His personal specs are believed to be:
Head Size: 100 sq. inch
Weight: 335g/ 11.8 oz
Balance: 2-3 Points Headlight
The racket is of stark contrast to Federer’s (Thor’s) Hammer, the Wilson RF 97 Pro Staff, however some of you may be wondering why the Babolat Pure Aero available in shops is 300g, yet Nadal’s isn’t.
It’s a common misconception that professional players like Nadal use the stock (shop) version of the rackets that they endorse. The truth is, there are only a few professional players on tour that use the exact versions of rackets available in stores. Virtually every player, these days, uses a customized version of these rackets supplied by the manufacturer.
In the case of Nadal, he will be using a racket that is extremely similar to the Pure Aero, but with additional weight and lead tape in certain places in the racket to suit his personal preferences.
A little like we offer in our Grand Slam Custom Fitting Package, this is an ongoing process between the racket brand and player through various testing procedures.
Why Does Nadal Use the Babolat Pure Aero?
Nadal uses the Babolat Pure Aero as his racket of choice to enhance his already lethal forehand. His racket has an enormous sweet spot and open string pattern, lending itself to the production of an unbelievably heavy ball and fizzing topspin without parallel.
Although not its primary strength, the Pure Aero is still an effective volleying racket and Nadal utilises this to good effect at the net. Primarily he’s known as a baseline grinder, but his choice of racket doesn’t hinder him when coming in to kill the point.
On serve, the great Spin King uses the slice serve to great effect – especially the slice serve out wide, on the “ad” side, to his opponents’ backhand (assuming that they are right-handed). The Pure Aero gives Nadal easy access to RPM as well as chronic plow through.
Formerly a poster boy for Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour, Nadal now uses Babolat’s RPM Blast in 15 Gauge at a tension of 55lbs. We are big fans of RPM Blast here at TheTennisBros.com, as we know how potent it can be in terms of spin potential and control.
Rafael Nadal uses it to devastating effect in his Pure Aero Racket; the string helping him to control the natural power in his swing, as well as the additional force from his beefed up racket.
Many professional players prefer a “players frame”, which is a less forgiving racket designed for advanced players to offer superior control. However, due to Nadal’s heavy reliance on topspin, the Pure Aero racket complements his game perfectly and his string choice complements the racket.
Another big swinging topspin player is American, Jack Sock, who also chooses to utilise a similar setup. Sometimes professional players just prefer using what they have always played with since being a teenager and don’t feel any need to chance.
What Does This Mean For Your Game?
If you love to stand on the baseline and bash balls around with heavy spin, then you will want to take a look at the Pure Aero or Pure Aero Tour racket. Additionally, if you are looking for a little more pop in your game without having to change too much technically, then this racket is also worth a thought.
In terms of co-polyester strings, Nadal’s RPM Blast is one of the softer, more pocketing polyesters out there. If you’re a player who likes to keep your foot to the gas and need some help keeping your ball inside the lines, then it’s certainly worth giving this string a playtest.
Article by: Tom