It’s been seven months since we’ve seen Rafael Nadal on the court, but he’s back! Rafa’s in Chile to play his first event since the 2012 Wimbleon. He won his first singles match in straight sets (6-3, 6-2 over Frederico Delbonis) then teamed up with Juan Monaco for some doubles (victorious there as well).
When he stepped back onto the court, Rafa had an entirely new look — much brighter apparel than his Wimbledon whites and even was swinging a new racquet. Let’s take a look at the gear he’s using as he embarks on his comeback.
In his hands Rafa has the 2013 version of the ever popular Babolat AeroPro Drive. This racquet is popular with a wide range of player levels because it is just so easy to use. The versatility comes from its easy access to power and very spin-friendly response. We may not all be able to hit with the RPMs of Rafael Nadal, but the AeroPro Drive can help anyone add some extra spin to their shots. This latest version features the updated Active Cortex system in the handle, leading to better feel and increased comfort. As one can see in our AeroPro Drive 2013 review, our playtest team was thoroughly impressed.
Nike has decked out Rafa in some new apparel as well. The Premier Rafa Crew has a lot of the key features designed for him: no-sew seams at the shoulders and sides to accomodate his aggressive swinging style, his signature Bull logo and ventilation holes. The ventilation holes on the back might just look random to most, but in reality it spells out Rafa. How? That’s probably what you’re asking. I’ll do my best to explain. At the top, if counted out, there are 18 vent holes. As it turns out R is the 18th letter of the alphabet. Next, there’s a single hole. A is the first letter of the alphabet. And you guessed it: F is the sixth letter of the alphabet. So 18-1-6-1 … that is Rafa spelled out in vent holes.
There’s a difference in his shorts as well. Gone are the days of the capris. Rafa is now sporting a shorter short. The Premier 8″ Woven Short is the shortest inseam we’ve seen him in yet. It continues to have the board short style waistband with a Velcro closure. There are vent holes on his short, too, but they do not signify anything.
On his feet, Rafa is wearing his trusted Air Courtballistec 4.3 in a new orange color to match his apparel. The Courtballistec is known for its durability and stability. In our review, the playtesters were also impressed with the comfort.
Here at TW, we’re gearing up for next month’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA. We’ll be there as usual with our retail tent, but some of the TW bloggers will be down there as well. We’re hoping to see a fully healthy Rafa on the desert courts and maybe we’ll see you, too!