Rafael Nadal: The Power Of Rituals

Rafael Nadal

STARNBERG, April 26, 2022 (Guest Post)

Rafael Nadal is perhaps the most superstitious tennis player. The famous arrangement of bottles, adjusting the shirt, shorts and bandages before serving is the trademark of the “king of the clay”.

However, this is not the whole “arsenal” of rituals that Rafa Nadal performs. Most of his actions remain behind the court. In this article, we’ll tell you what Nadal did before his first win in the Wimbledon finals. No matter how you feel about superstition, it’s silly to deny Nadal’s greatness. The athlete has won dozens of tournaments, unwittingly forcing fans to check wta tennis odds. Nadal is famous for his serves and has made some great comebacks more than once.

Rafael’s opponent in the final was Roger Federer. If Nadal is the “king of the clay”, Federer could be rightly called the “king of the grass”. The Swiss had beaten Nadal in the Wimbledon final the year before, so the mental advantage before the game was on his side.

What rituals did Rafa use before that game?

Nadal’s breakfast (on the day of the match): porridge, orange juice, a milk-chocolate drink, and an unusual sandwich – Spanish bread sprinkled with salt and a splash of olive oil. Rafa does not drink coffee.

The next step is universal for all tennis players: the pre-match training.

After training it’s also quite standard: shower, lunch. Rafa does not deny himself any “food”. For lunch he took pasta and fish.

Next is the most interesting part. At the time of 2008, the tennis players had to share the same locker room. Here’s what Nadal said about it: “When I went into the locker room after lunch, Federer was already sitting there on the wooden bench where he always sits. We got used to each other and there was no awkwardness between us. Or at least I didn’t feel it. Very soon we’ll be on the court to crush each other in the most important match of the year, but we’re not just rivals, we’re friends to some extent.”

The last thing Nadal does before stepping on the court is drink water. First he drinks some from one bottle and then from another. It sounds rather strange and ridiculous, but here’s what Rafa says about it: “I repeat this sequence every time before the start of another match and at every break until the match is over. First a sip from one bottle, then the other.” (By the way, it is after this ritual that Nadal arranges his bottles in a certain order during matches).

That’s not to say that these rituals helped Nadal win twenty-one Grand Slam tournaments. Some would call Nadal an overly superstitious man. But rituals are not superstition. Rafa finds in them a way to set himself up for the match: “Some would call it superstition, but it’s not. If it were superstition, why would I keep doing the same action whether I win or lose. It’s just the way I set up for the match; I strive to make the outside environment as harmonious as possible with the order I look for in my mind.”