Abu Dhabi SF photos

Photos by KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images and REUTERS/Karl Jeffs

18 Responses

  1. mary says:

    Liking those guns in “buggy whip” flick!!! hot, hot!!!!!
    You can also clearly see the strings & they do seem different!!!!
    Love flick 3. That look of “Oh f***k here it comes, focus, focus”. Priceless!!

  2. patzin says:

    What does it mean with new strings? More control. It is noticeable in the last photo.

    • patzin says:

      Do they use different strings for different surfaces? That would prob make sense – at least to this non-tennis player.

      • jimmy says:

        Hiya Patzin. Nadal uses the same strings for all surfaces. Most pros do likewise.
        Nadal also uses multiple racquets in a match because his strings loose tension as the match goes on.

        Nadal plays with Duralast strings for the past several years. Babolat does a paintjob on them and to make them look like PHT ( Pro Hurricane Tour) which is what is widely sold in the US and other places.

        Because these strings are black (opposed to the yellow that Rafa’s used) and the latest PHT strings are also black there are rumors that Rafa has changed strings. However it is more likely that Babolat custom dyed these strings for Rafa. It is the same for the racquet too where they did a paint-job on Rafa’s racquet to make it look like the new APD GT (Aero Drive Pro Grand Tour).

        Logically there’s no reason for Rafa to change his strings because he’s been using Duralast for a long time and wouldn’t get them changed just because the new PHT strings are black now. PHTs could probably give Rafa more spin and control on the ball, but it’s not a decision that a top player like him will take in a hurry.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jimmy,do you know anything about the new racquet Rafa is supposed to be playing with soon.I’ve heard he’s bringing it out after Australian Open. Wishing him a fabulous match today.VAMOS RAFA!!!

          • jimmy says:

            Hiya Karen. As I said in my previous post, Rafa’s new racquet (or paint-job to be more specific) is Babolat’s AeroProDrive GT where GT is graphite tungsten. It differs from the Babolat Pure drive (with Cortex) in that the GT claims to generate more power and pace with slightly lesser spin.

            The new racquet would be on sale in the US around Feb this yr. Obviously Babolat would want it to be endorsed by Nadal to promote sales. Hence they’ve probably done a paint-job on his traditional racquet, and Rafa seems to have started using it over here in Abu Dhabi (as can be seen in the pics here). I am actually more puzzled by the strings since those look a little different from the traditional duralast that Rafa uses.

            Vendor pics of the racquet came here: http://www.avantage-service.com/baerodrivel.htm
            http://tennisconnected.com/home/2009/11/25/nadals-new-babolat-aeropro-racket/ and

            • An says:

              Intresting facts Jimmy about the new racket thing / paint job…

              I thougt i noticed it was a little bit different frame too with a slightly bigger racquet ( googletranslations gives me this word for the part off the racket wich hold the strings?? don’t know how to describe it otherwise in englis, lol ) but not sure about that at all and its far more likely that its the paint job that makes me think that. BTW i think the racket frame is always custom made for the pro’s ( they might change a little on it from time to time )and never an exact the same frame that we can buy in the stores :)
              The strings… i realy do think those are others wich he maybe is trying out in this exhibition, will be intresting to see if he uses them in Doha an AO too…

              Hope he’s going to blog again from AO and awnsers questions so we can ask him about a new racket and different strings, yes or no.

              • jimmy says:

                Good post An. You’re right. It’s very hard to get the exact same frame that players use. The problem is that they stick to one model, but the manufacturers keep on upgrading. So to promote sales obviously they allow players to get a paint-job and retain the frames. Here’s an article that talks about it: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=1872892&type=story

                Also, I hope you’re right about the strings. I’ve been wanting Rafa to try the PHTs for quite a while now. But the reason I’m skeptical is that there’s no reason for him to change now after all these years of using Duralast.

                Anyway only Rafa knows the answer to this question. Usually he’s close mouthed and I doubt he would admit to using dyed strings or a frame paint-job on a public blog. Babolat wouldn’t like that at all. Who would buy the new APD GT then? :)

                • An says:

                  Ok, you have a point… altough i don’t think i heard him admit before that babolat customize frames for him so there should be a way to awnser the question with the commercial point off view in full sight i gues:)
                  The strings, at least he could awnser that, No?;)

        • Tyler says:

          Hey jimmy sorry to burst your bubble but the black string is called RPM blast.

  3. faeaki7 says:

    Interesting! thanks Jimmy for that.

    Nice Nice pics liking 1,3(strong brown eyes),6 and 9(lovely toned arms like no other), Rafa is looking healthy wouldn’t you agree?? less fragile, nothing like some lovely Rafa time to start my day, thankyou!!! god I hope he plays well today.

  4. Ozhamma says:

    I think you’re mistating a lot of things here. Tennis manufacturers do not do paint jobs on strings (as you say with Nadal’s Duralast being paintjobbed to look like Pro Hurricane Tour, keep reading my posting below), they do paint job Pros racquets however so consumers keep spending another $200 every year.

    I haven’t read anything about any new Babolat strings or PHT being black so anything written here about the black strings is pure speculation, i.e. imo. To me it looks like he’s switched to Luxilon Big Banger Alu. As to why it looks the way it does…. I think he has had the majority of the stringbed blacked out using stencil ink and has left the two Babolat lines the original color of the string (silver color). One advantage of this may be to show a wear pattern since the black stencil ink wears off, maybe he’s using it as a testing method for the new strings… (btw last time I checked no one makes stencil ink in the color of Luxilon Big Banger Alu :). Big Banger Alu is softer and pockets more than Duralast, maybe he’s just testing…

    You’re right about Nadal previously having used a Babolat string called Duralast, it is from a retail perspective an inexpensive string, only available in Europe, and is a very stiff string since it’s a first generation polyester string, comparatively Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour looks similar to Duralast and is marketed on the packaging to be the string that Nadal uses (not true) and also Roddick (true but he hybrids with natural gut). Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour is more of a canary yellow, whereas Duralast is more of a greenish-yellowish translucent color. The shape and playability are completely different too. Duralast is stiff and round and Pro Hurricane Tour is hexagon-shaped and softer. I’m from Sweden and used to live in Florida stringing tennis racquets for college and high school teams, vis a vis my knowledge on Babolat product availability in Europe and the US. Let me know if questions.

  5. Adee says:

    Thanks for sharing this info, what you’re saying here abt Nadal’s new paint job is absolutely correct. There is no way that a pro player (esp No 2 ) would change something (so crucial ..infact the most crucial thing) like a racket just because the company who they endorse has introduced a new model.

    The article you mention in the post (from ESPN) is also 100% correct. For example Federer has NEVER used K Tour 90″ ..or atleast not the one available to public. And more interestingly Wilson had introduced BLX rackets, and all Pro’s incl. Federer & Del Potro are switching to new rackets. These companies are making everyone fool, why on earth would Federer change his racket when he is at top of gis game ..and same applies to Del Potro. I am a club level player and even I woudnt take a chance by using any other racket than the one which Im used to when going into a friendly match – so why would these pro’s do that,.

    Anyway Head is no different.. they do the same with Andy Murray’s racket. He has never used YouTek’s..infact he is still using old rackets which he used 3 years ago..but with new paint job.

    And this is not limited to rackets for example shoes. Nike makes custom shoes for Federer (and other top pro’s) which are very different from the ones available to public but overall design is the same and we get fooled. For proof you can search (on Google Images) for term “federer shoes 2009″ and then compare them to the same model Nike touts as Federer shoes, on looking closely you will start noticing the differences.

    I tried to write these comments on Tennis-warehouse website’s (official ATP vendor) comments section, but ofcourse they never appeared :)

    I think someone needs to voice these things.

  6. AdeeI agree but you have to be more open minded since you can’t know whether someone switches to every new racquet or paints his old one. Sometimes a player is given the new racquet to test and he doesn’t like it, then he keeps the old and paints it. Sometimes though maybe he likes it and keeps the new one. You just can’t be sure. Your example for your pick in your friendly matches does apply but there is my example that applies also. I played with the N90 (customized) with a weight of 395gr. When K90 came along i tested it with the same setup of course (customized) and was way better. Needless to say i switched to the new ones. Of course i am not Federer or Murray but i am just one example like you. How can you rule out that they don’t like the new frames??

    P.S I would love to have you as a member in my forum voicing out everything so that everyone can make up their own mind without censorship.

    • Adee says:

      Yes I agree with your point of view as well, players do make customizations to rackets (and why not), they have total right to do it. But using same old racket with new paint job is certainly not fair esp. when companies make millions by ripping consumers and trick them into thinking that they are using same racket as pro’s do (customizations are ok, BUT not the paint jobs).

      You can agree with me that most people buy these fancy rackets because No 1 or No 2 or No 3 are using those models. If that was not the case… then why would pro’s (our heroes) have paint jobs on their rackets.

      Nike was sued about 10 years ago when Tiger Woods confessed that the golf balls he uses are not the same which Nike sells to public, this was an anti-trust issue and as a result Nike had to start selling exact same balls which Woods used. So that’s false advertising, is it not !

      At the same time I do agree every player switches rackets at some stage in his/her career (e.g. Dojokvic, Haas, etc) but what are the odds of all pro’s (or atleast the ones which you see on advertisements) switching to Wilson BLX at same time ? :)… or may be all pro’s switching to Head YouTek from Head MG Radical at the same.

      You & me – we can switch rackets whenever we want – doesnt make any difference in our real lives ..but pro’s on the other hand have so much on the line so.. you know where this going..dont you ! :)

  7. You are right and i agreed with your arguments from your first post and this one. It’s not right to let the public think that pros use the same racquet as them but unfortunately there are billions at stake and money is the biggest objective as always. We don’t have any idea even if the racquet Federer is using for example has anything to do with past or present Wilson models. Why not assume also that Wilson has created a special racquet with materials used just for the 80 frames per year he uses, custom made in weight and balance from the factory to his specifications years ago. Their status as the best racquet company is linked to No1 players, Grand Slam winners etc. They wouldn’t say we have the best racquets if their players weren’t the best. So maybe it’s a conspiracy theory thinking that Federer’s racquet is unique maybe it’s not. My opinion is that you just can’t be sure. From the other hand i had the luck to be able to hold and actually test an actual Federer racquet in a tournament. I don’t know about material composition but everything is the same with the stock model except that he added 5 grams of lead under the bumper. In my opinion companies should make clear that the pros racquet are different and also try to EDUCATE their customers about the reasons they are different. Explain why someone who has been playing 4 hours a day his entire life and playw for a living has different frame needs than a club player. That way people wouldn’t be mislead thinking they play with the same racquet Murray or Djokovic or Nadal is playing. I guess i am wishfuly thinking but i believe that people like you and me and other educated players and fans can transfer the message.

    • Adee says:

      You are correct and I agree with your point of view as well.

      I think my biggest concern is false advertising on such massive scale by the big companies ( I dont blame the players). They cannot start LYING to people just because they want to sell new racket and there are billions on stake. It’s just matter of time before someone comes forward and start suing these giant companies.