July 11, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

RG ’15 pics: 39 minutes with Rafa Nadal

Technically, it’s a 30-minute warmup period before a match. But with Rafael Nadal, there’s always a time violation 🙂

PARIS – There are few players who create a buzz when they’re scheduled to practice on a court the fans can access at the French Open. Federer and Nadal on the men’s side, followed by Djokovic (but not to the same extent). Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova on the women’s side, but again, not quite at the same level.

A Nadal practice is chock-full of … events. From the time he comes on court and shakes hands or gives a pat on the shoulder to every single person on the court, no matter how important or secondary. He does it every time, and it’s just so … courteous.

The finger tape is already on. And it only takes a few hits for Nadal to get to Mach 2 or 3. Typically, it’ll take his practice partner (in this case, Frenchman Jerome Haehnel), a few minutes to adjust to the pace. And even then, they’re always scrambling if they have to move at all. The sounds Nadal’s racquet makes on contact is something else. And in practice, he can often crunch his backhand nearly as hard – and hit it screaming winners down the line in a way that doesn’t happen that often in matches.

Here are a few signature moments from Sunday’s warmup.

The towels must ALWAYS be taken care of. The other side of the court was an issue because he couldn’t hang it up, he had to stick it through one of the holes in the fence, and it was complicated.

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The water bottles are … out of balance! No worries. 

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Yes, there was some of this. But not too much.

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….SPIES! (It’s always funny when Fed-capped fans ask him for autographs or selfies. But these two guys didn’t).

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Shoes that fit! Doesn’t it seem as though Nadal is finally wearing shoes that don’t make his feet look like stuffed sausages?

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(This is what we’re talking about)

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Why was the 30-minute warmup … 39 minutes? Well, Borna Coric finished a bit early, so Nadal was able to get on the court at 11:58 a.m., not noon. Why seven minutes at the end? Celebrity.

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This always happens at Nadal warmups; the next player will be well into his warmup, and Nadal is still making his way around the court, signing.

In Australia this year, Nadal was on the court a solid 15 minutes as Novak Djokovic was practicing – on the opposite site from the exit to the locker room, where all the fans can watch. No worries; when he was done, he just walked behind Djokovic and Becker – “Hi fellas, excuse me. Passing through!” and off he went.

Here are a lot more pics from the warmup.

 

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