Bizarre moment Rafael Nadal is forced to stop playing as a ball boy steals his racquet – while the Grand Slam legend laughs at the ‘grave mistake’ before suddenly dropping a set
- Nadal is famous for being meticulous and superstitious when it comes to tennis matches
- After the first set, he found himself in trouble in round one of his Australian Open match
- The game was suspended when Nadal was looking for his stolen tennis racket
- Eventually he continued playing
He may be a seasoned veteran who has won more Grand Slams than any other man in history, but Spaniard Rafael Nadal still managed to dish up something new at Monday’s Australian Open.
Playing his first round match against the dangerous 21-year-old Jack Draper of Great Britain, Nadal fought his way through to win a tough first set.
But it wasn’t until the break between sets that things got interesting.
The 22-time Grand Slam winner and reigning Australian Open champion became visibly excited and held up the game looking for something.
As his curious opponent stood by, it became clear that one of the ball boys had stolen the racquet he was still using.
Nadal is known to be superstitious and needs everything in order, including his tennis racquets
“The ball boy, the ball boy, take my racquet,” a nervous Nadal told his opponent.
“They took away his racquet, which he’s using, which he wants,” laughs commentator Mark Petsche.
“I hope they didn’t cut out the threads.”
However, fellow commentator John Fitzgerald saw the serious side of it. Nadal is known for his particular mannerisms during tennis matches, including ordering or his water bottles – and tennis racquets.
“Gosh, that’s a big mistake and he knows it. He knows the tension, he knows the order in which he wants to use the clubs.”
“After all these years, you don’t often get a first in a Rafa match, but this is definitely the first time that would have happened,” added Petsch.
As his search grew more frantic, Nadal found that the ball boy had taken his racquet in the break between sets
As play continued to stall, Fitzgerald began to wonder if the ball boy had fled the venue with his new prized possession.
“He’s also worth something, this bat, he may never see him again,” he said, laughing.
‘It could be anywhere on the streets of Melbourne.
“I’m sure he’ll get it back, but he had to take one in turn here, didn’t he?”
Eventually, Nadal relented and grabbed the nearest racquet from his kit bag, thoroughly disrupting his famously meticulous approach to everything in a tennis match.
Nadal reacts after scoring a point against Britain’s Jack Draper during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne
Unfortunately for the Spaniard, the break may have been playing in his mind as Draper would storm 6-2 through the second set.
Nadal had admitted he was nervous leading up to the game after losing a number of games leading up to it after returning from injury.
“Of course, without a doubt,” he said.
“I lost more than usual, that’s part of the business. Just accept the situation. I think I’m humble enough to accept this situation and just work with what I have today.
“I have to build that whole momentum back up. I have to rebuild this self-confidence with victories. But it’s true that I’ve lost more than usual.’