Why Rafael Nadal Hits His Racquet on His Shoes Before Serving on Clay?

Published 05/25/2021, 8:30 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Madrid Open – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 7, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Sergio Perez


20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal is a player who is famous for his eccentric rituals on the court. Even though he is a 13-time French Open champion, there is a belief that there are a set of rituals that Rafa performs before playing any match. This list adds yet another intriguing ritual when he steps on any clay court.

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There is a pattern of activities that he performs before and after stepping on the court. One of them is the way he hits his shoes with his racquet exactly two times before serving on clay. Even though people believe it to be a ritual as well, it is not just a ritual.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 16, 2021. Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his quarter-final match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The reason for the same is to remove the clay that sometimes sticks to his shoes. During the matches on the surface, players often get clay beneath their shoes, and in order to get the weight of it off, they do so. However, Rafa being Rafa has a nuanced way of doing it, which is to incorporate it in his usual court trials.

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Some of the other rituals that Rafael Nadal does before and during a match

Nadal often takes a freezing cold shower 45 minutes before his match. Then, he wears both his socks at the same height. Following this, he takes off his jacket after a jump and then heads for his on-court rituals.

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 30: Rafael Nadal of Spain arranges his drinks bottle during the men’s singles round four match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia on day nine of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 30, 2011, in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Rafa is very particular about the position of his bag, bottles, and towels. First, he places his bottles in the exact same position. While serving, he first hits the racquet on his shoe (if playing on clay), places his hair behind his ear. He then uses his index finger and thumb to remove the sweat off his eyes and nose and then puts his hair behind the ears again.

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World No.3 Nadal uses his towel after winning every single point. In addition, he always drinks his energy drink first before taking a sip of water.

Apart from his exceptional performances, it is these fascinating rituals that make Rafael Nadal a distinctive player. He’ll now head to Paris where he’ll be eyeing his 21st Grand Slam title. Will Rafa be able to conquer Paris for the 14th time at the French Open 2021?

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Anshul Singh

957 articles

Anshul Singh is a tennis author at EssentiallySports, currently pursuing Journalism Honors from Delhi University. Having significant experience with content, Anshul has authored over 500 tennis articles. He has previously worked as a writer and an editor for DU Express, penning riveting articles on sports, politics, and culture.

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