May 25, 2010
It just got a little more expensive to dress like Rafael Nadal.
Used to be that after making a few stops at various online stores, you could have Rafa's shirt, shoes, shorts, wristbands, bandanna and racket for around $500, a small price to pay to channel the tennis prowess of a six-time Grand Slam champion. Now that Nadal has added a watch to his on-court look, the price went up a little bit. Like $525,000.
Rafa took to the court Tuesday at the French Open with a new timepiece from Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille. The RM 027 Tourbillon was made specially for Nadal and features a carbon-composite case and lithium alloys, which are just fancy ways of saying that it's really, really light. It weighs just 20 grams (equivalent to about eight pennies) so Nadal can wear it during matches. The watch was given to him as part of a sponsorship deal, so it's not like Nadal went out to the mall and threw down his Black Card to pick it up.
Before Tuesday, Nadal had never worn a watch during his professional career, yet it didn't seem to slow him down at all in his 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over Gianni Mina. But it shouldn't have. Rafa had about as much chance of losing to Mina as I do of ever owning that watch. He could have worn the boulder of Sisyphus on his right wrist and still probably would have won in straight sets.
There is some concern that the accessory could hinder his play in later rounds though. Twenty grams might not seem like a lot, but when Nadal winds up for his backhand and there's an extra eight pennies worth of weight on his right hand, who knows what the effect will be?
If you're interested in buying the watch, congratulations on your success. Only 50 of the timepieces will be produced, which means Rafa better be careful not to get clay specks in the bezel over the next two weeks.