Tennis Player Evolution

One: Rafa’s Wristwatch Costs As Much As Four New Homes

nadal-model-watchSometimes, even a world champion has to start small.

That’s why Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille created a super-lightweight and technologically advanced watch for tennis champion Rafael Nadal made from aluminum, lithium and titanium carbon nanotubes worth an estimated $525,000.

But that was just small potatoes for a watch worthy of one of the best tennis players of all time. Ever the perfectionists, Mille and Nadal collaborated on refining and redesigning a second model that was even lighter and sturdier.

Then, during the 2016 French Open, Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal introduced a third incarnation of the Nadal signature model that could take even more of a pounding–for a cool $750,000.

The newest model features a case that was inspired by the chassis of race cars, making it even harder and lighter, thanks to new materials and advanced manufacturing techniques.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-9-23-29-pmMille crafted this radical design using a number of tiny cables, called tensioners, that suspend the movement in the watch casing. Weighing in at only 19 grams (a postage stamp weighs 1 gram) including strap, the watch can withstand accelerations of up to 5,000 Gs. Since anything over 10 Gs is fatal for humans, this shouldn’t present a problem for even a super-human like Rafa.

The latest Nadal watch, like its predecessors, features a mechanical tourbillon, an extreme rarity in a sports watch. It’s also composed of a new material called TPT Quartz, which is composed of hundreds of layers of quartz that have been fused together with silica and heated to 250 degrees. The horological masterpiece also contains grade-5 titanium and a sapphire crystal.

Two: Rafa Is The Star of Shakira’s Music Video

Often times, sports celebrities make a cameo appearance in music videos. But Rafa is actually featured in Shakira’s music video for her single, Gypsy.


Three: There’s An Asteroid Belt Named After Rafa

asteroid-beltRafael Nadal enjoys the distinction of being the only tennis player in the world to have an asteroid named after him.

In 2003, scientists at the Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca named a newly identified asteroid 128036 Rafaelnadal in his honor.

Astronomers discovered the asteroid belt the same time that Nadal burst into international prominence in 2003. When Rafa won the men’s Wimbledon championship in 2008, they named an asteroid after him in honor of his victory.

Four: Rafa Was the First Tennis Player To Land an Armani Endorsement 

armani-rafaRafa became the brand ambassador of Emporio Armani® Underwear and Armani® Jeans in 2011. This marked the first time Armani chose a tennis champion to represent the brand.

As a tennis player who finds himself more comfortable in “jeans, polo shirts and jackets,” Rafa noted that his relationship with the Armani brand has sharpened his fashion sense. But don’t expect to see him sporting haute couture anytime soon. “If I see something I like, I get it,” he said referring to his low-maintenance shopping style.

But that was then. Recently, Rafa was selected as the new face and body of Tommy Hilger’s underwear range.

“Nadal, 28, has signed up as the fashion label’s global brand ambassador in 2015 and will also appear in campaigns for its Tailored collection,” according to an official press release.

Five: Rafa Wins the Bronze Medal in All-Time Men’s Tennis Prize Money

prize-moneyRafa has captured 66 tour titles, 14 Grand Slam titles and a career Golden Slam—a feat equaled only by Andre Agassi in the men’s professional tour. Since turning pro in 2001, Rafa has amassed more than $72 million in prize money. This makes Rafa the third-highest earning player of all time, placing him just below number-two Novak Djokovic and the number-one earner, by a long-shot, Roger Federer.


Six: Rafa Rakes In $28 million a Year From Endorsements

rafa-nikeRafa’s biggest endorsement contract is with Nike®, a company that pays him an estimated $10 million per year to wear half-a-dozen or so Nike® logo swooshes upon his person while on the court. Rafa signed a 10-year deal with the US sportswear company in 2008.

Other endorsement deals include agreements with racquet-maker Babolat®, Kia® Motors, telecommunications firm, Telefonica®, and fashion mogul Tommy Hilfiger®

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