World No. 3 Rafael Nadal uses the Pure AeroPro Drive racquet designed by Babolat. He has been using the same frame since 2004 but has made a few changes to the core of the racquet over the years.
The Spaniard's association with Babolat goes back to when he was nine-years-old. He first started using the Pure Drive racquet but went on to develop the Pure Aero Pro a few years later.
The 36-year-old's affinity for the racquet is for several reasons – it works perfectly for the heavy topspin forehand and allows him to control his powerful groundstrokes. The aerodynamics of the racquet are completely different to those of a traditional frame.
Earlier racquets were made with the preparation for a stroke to be made horizontally, but the Pure AeroPro Drive has evolved to allow for an almost vertical preparation to generate the topspin.
The modifications made by the 22-time Grand Slam champion have helped him do well and use the racquet to its full potential.
In 2012, he added 3 grams to the weight based on the recommendation of his uncle, Toni Nadal. The goal was to find more power and length for his serve and depth on his groundstrokes.
In 2017, Nadal again made some adjustments by adding an extra 2 grams to the same spot on the racquet head. He also added an overgrip to the handle because the size of his grip was relatively small compared to his height and weight.
These modifications helped the Spaniard to have a firmer grip, which was valuable, particularly for the serve and volley. It positively affected his game, as he made an impressive comeback from injury and won two Grand Slams that year.
Nadal uses a maximum of thirty frames per year and has never broken a racquet in his career.
"On average, Rafa is given 6-8 racquets four times a year. Nadal will use these 6-8 frames until the grips begin to mold to the shape of his hand and this is when he gets the best feeling. It’s important for him to work the grip until it is perfectly adapted to his hand," Jean-Christophe Verborg, Director of Competition at Babolat
Rafael Nadal's record at Major tournaments this year
Rafael Nadal is having one of the best seasons of his career in 2022. He has an astounding 92 per cent success ratio in all competitions and is still undefeated in Grand Slam tournaments.
The Spaniard started the season with a title at the Melbourne Summer Set before ending his campaign Down Under on a high after winning his second Australian Open title. He outlasted Russian No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in an epic five-set contest, coming back from two-sets-to-love to win his 21st Major title.
He continued his purple patch at Roland Garros, claiming his 14th crown in Paris. The 36-year-old defeated the likes of Felix Auger-Aliassime, Novak Djokovic, and Alexander Zverev en route to the finals and put up a dominating display against Casper Ruud to lift the title.
Chasing an elusive career Grand Slam, he also participated at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships after a gap of three years. The World No. 3 performed brilliantly to reach the semifinals but was ill-fatedly forced to withdraw due to an abdominal injury. Australian Nick Kyrgios received a walkover entry in the finals at the All England Club.
Nadal is on course to compete in the upcoming North American hardcourt swing, including the Canadian Open, Cincinnati Masters and the US Open Championships. He will be looking to have a significant impact at the hardcourt Major, which begins on August 29.