“Bundle of Nervous Energy”: Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, and Others Describe Rafael Nadal’s Pre-Game Rituals

Published 08/29/2021, 12:38 AM EDT
Aug 5, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after a play against Lloyd Harris of South Africa (not pictured) during the Citi Open at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports


Apart from his 20 Grand Slam titles, Rafael Nadal is also known for another uncommon reason, his pre-game routine. Consequently, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Frances Tiafoe, and others answered in unison when asked who has the strangest pre-game ritual.

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The answer comes with no surprise as Rafa has delighted tennis fans with his pre-match and in-match rituals. And so, while the players competing at Winston-Salem Open described his rituals, Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik shared an intriguing incident concerning the Spaniard.

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Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, and others on Rafael Nadal’s pre-game rituals

Most certainly, Rafael Nadal is the ultimate competitor in tennis. So much so that he religiously follows a system that has worked for him for over a decade.

Hence, when asked about who has the strangest pre-game ritual, Andy Murray answered, “An easy one for me, and that would be Rafa Nadal.” Furthermore, he described the 35-year-old’s method. “He’s just a bundle of sort of nervous energy, I guess.”

MONTE CARLO, MONACO – APRIL 18: Rafael Nadal (l) of Spain shakes hands with Andy Murray (r) of Great Britain (r) after his 6-2,7-6 victory in the semi final match during day six of the ATP Masters Series at the Monte Carlo Country Club on April 18, 2009 in Monte Carlo,Monaco. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

When the question was asked to the World No.37 Alexander Bublik, a locker room story came to the surface. He revealed, “Rafa is running around the locker room all the time. He almost hit me at the Australian Open.”

Afterward, David Goffin and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic illustrated the rituals. While Goffin said, “What he’s doing with his shorts, his nose,” Cilic completed him, “Before he goes up to serve or even to return could be. Who else?”

Additionally, compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, frenemy for decades, Richard Gasquet, and Frances Tiafoe only took his name. Therefore, similar to clay courts or the French Open, Rafa is also hard to beat over pre-game rituals.

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When will Rafael Nadal return to tennis after his US Open 2021 withdrawal?

Because of a persistent foot injury, Nadal did not only pull out from this year’s Wimbledon and US Open, but ended his 2021 season altogether. It would be a big blow to his ATP Rankings as he was supposed to defend his 2019 championships points.

Watch this story: Rafael Nadal’s Top 5 Worst Injuries

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Above all, the Spaniard assured that he would recover and return to the Tour. Most likely, he will make a comeback at the ATP Cup or a pre-tournament event for the Australian Open 2022.

Do you think Nadal can add one more Grand Slam to his prolific career?

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Purav Joshi

1139 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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