WATCH: Rafael Nadal ‘needs his racket back’ after ballboy mistakenly takes wrong racket

Rafael Nadal in action Credit: Alamy
Rafael Nadal in action Credit: Alamy

Rafael Nadal is known for his idiosyncrasies and rituals before and during tennis matches so when a ballboy accidentally removed his playing racket from court it upset the apple cart, although the Spaniard did see the funny side of it.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner kicked off the defence of his Australian Open title against Jack Draper on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday and things were pretty evenly matched early on as it went according to serve in the opening.

However, there was a bit of drama – but nothing too serious – with the score 4-3 to Nadal as one of the ballboys mistakenly took the wrong racket for restringing during an exchange.

“It’s this one for restringing, not that [one you took],” he told the ballboy before turning to the chair umpire to say “I need the racket back.”

Channel Nine commentator John Fitzgerald joked “goodness me, that’s a big mistake and he knows. He knows the tension, he knows the sequence he wants to use the rackets in”.

Mark Petsche added: “You don’t often get a first in a Rafa match after all these years, but that is definitely the first that that would’ve happened.”

The chair umpire got on his phone to request that the original racket be returned while a smiling Nadal explained to Draper: “The ballboy took my racket!”

The racket didn’t make an appearance in time for the next game as Nadal had to use a different one and he went on to win the opening set 7-5. However, Draper did break early on in the second set to take the match to the top seed.

Nadal had admitted before the match that fellow left-hander Draper will be a tough opponent to face in the first round.

“It’s probably one of the toughest first rounds possible, being seeded. He’s young, powerful, growing very, very fast on the rankings, playing well,” he said.

“It’s a big challenge for me at the beginning to start the tournament. I’m here to just give myself a chance. I know he’s playing well. He has a lot of positive things, and probably a great career in front. I hope to be ready to fight for that first round and let’s see what can happen.”

Nadal, of course, has eccentric routines when it comes to playing a match – from walking onto the court with a racket in his one hand to placing his bags and drinks in a specific sequence and fidgeting with his close and wiping his face.

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