by Bob Stockton
Rafael Nadal’s name will remain in the sands of time as one of the best tennis players of his time. People argue that he’s a better player than Djokovic and Federer, but there is one fact that is not debatable and that is that he’s one of the greatest of all times.
Rafael has been at the top in the ATP Tour for over a decade. The legacy he has built over the years has endeared him to many tennis fans in different parts of the world. All through his consistent victories during the ATP Tours, one item has remained significant – his racquet.
What Kind of Racquet Does Rafael Nadal Use?
Nadal’s racquet isn’t exactly what people think it is. He endorsed the Babolat Pure Aero, but he uses the original Aero Pro Drive. He strings it with the Babolat RPM blast strings. So, what you may see on your TV screen is not exactly what tennis pros play with.
However, there are some exceptions, but in very rare cases such as the racquet of Federer Roger. Pro tennis players often use pro stock equipment that is under paint jobs. You can visit https://tennisracquetpro.com to find out the tennis equipment that pros use.
Rafael’s Racquet at the Start of His Career
When Rafael started his career, he played with a Babolat Soft Drive. But as he progressed in his early years, he switched to the use of Pure Drive. Eric Babolat, the Chief Executive Officer of Babolat, explained that the company built the equipment to adapt to Rafael’s game. Thus, the racquet’s design produces more spin and power.
So, that was the birth of the special Pure Aero, previously known as Aero Pro Drive. In 2004, there was a technical collaboration between tennis players and the development and research team of Babolat in order to design the equipment.
The Disguise of Nadal’s Racquet
You may wonder why Nadal’s equipment looks like the Pure Aero. It is because the company wants to increase its sales. It will not make a good market sense to sell a model that is over 10 years old.
As a result, the company did what several companies in the industry usually do. They continued the production of the original Aero Pro Drive for Nadal, then painted it to look like the recent model.
Although he tried to use the Pure Aero, he did not get his desired result. He did not really trust the additional power of the Pure Aero on his shots. Instead, he returned to using his original Aero Pro Drive.
Adjustments Made on Rafael’s Racquet from 2012 to 2017
The first change in Rafael’s equipment was in 2012. He was having a rough period in his career. The season was a difficult one, with episodes of losses against Djokovic Novak. To stop the streak, he added three grams that would help him place more power and spin on the tennis ball.
In 2017, the equipment got another change. Rafael added an additional two grams to the exact spot where he made the previous change – the top side of the frame. He added a lead strip to the top side of the frame in order to increase the racquet’s weight. This also increased its strong hammering effect. Aside from the lead strips, there was no other change on Rafael’s equipment.
You may want to read this article on the best tennis players and the adjustments made to their equipment.
The Number of Racquets Rafael Uses Each Year
Rafael does not use a lot of racquets in a single season. He plays with 30 each year. He is also among the few tennis players who have never broken their racquets voluntarily.
The sports marketing director of Babolat, Verborg Jean-Christophe, claims that Rafael gets between 6 to 8 racquets 4 times each year. He uses the frames until the grips start molding to fit the cup of his hands. That is when he gets the best feel of the equipment. And this is important because of his unique grip.
The Micro-sensors on the Racquet
The Pure Aero has micro-sensors attached to it. These micro-sensors help to collect certain valuable data such as the total shots made, area of the impact, the effect, power, and more. The data collected will become useful when Nadal’s team sets out to practice. And they will get a useful insight into the previous matches.
The Specs of Nadal’s Racquet
The original Aero Pro Drive does not have any new technology attached to it. It is just a construction with an Aero beam and pure graphite. When you compare it with the recent aero line versions, it has a really low launch angle. Also, its stiffness rating is 72 unstrung. Apart from these, the equipment is arm friendly.
Below is a breakdown of the initial spec for the original Aero Pro Drive, as well as the adjustments made on Nadal’s racquet.
The Specs of the Original Aero Pro Drive
Here are the original specifications of the original Aero Pro Drive:
- Size of the head: 100 square inches
- Length: 27 inches
- Balance: 6 pts head light (HL)
- Strung weight: 320 g / 11.3 oz
- Stiffness rating: 72
- Weight (swing): 290
- Pattern of the strings: 19 crosses / 16 mains
- Type of grip: Syntec grip
The Customized Nadal’s Racquet
Here are the customizations made on the equipment:
- 2005 Babolat Aero Pro Drive: transformed into Babolat Pure Aero using a paint job
- Type of grip: Babolat versus original white plus Babolat black Syntec pro
- Weight of lead added: 17 g (12 g around 12 and 5g around the handle)
- String pattern: 1.35 Babolat RPM blast
- Dampener: Babolat customized damp
- Strung balance: about 335 mm
- Strung weight: 340 g / 12 oz
How Does Nadal’s Racquet Play?
The racquet Nadal uses is really not for everybody. It has a whip and spin that is unbelievable. He plays with so much spin, and that’s why the original Aero Drive is perfect for him. Although the spin is amazing, it is not friendly for beginners. But as soon as you become comfortable with the equipment, you will achieve some success in the game.
The equipment may not be suitable for beginners, but intermediate and expert players can use it comfortably.
Can You Purchase Rafael’s Racquet?
You will face a challenge if you want to purchase Rafael’s racquet, not just something that looks like it. Due to the fact that the production of the original Aero Pro Drive was in 2005, Babolat has discontinued it. So, it may be impossible to get that brand in the market today. But because of Nadal’s partnership with Babolat, they produce it specifically for him.
It is well-known that Nadal uses Babolat tennis racquet. However, what many people do not know is the fact that his racquet is not one of the company’s newer models.