Rafa, What's With the Collar? And ... Sleeves?

Nadal dons polo, ditches capris in Nike makeover

By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 23, 2009 12:38 PM CST

(Newser) – When Rafael Nadal emerged a few weeks ago without his signature capris and—gasp!—wearing a polo shirt, many fans of the top-ranked tennis player began grumbling. And now his Australian Open outfits, though a bit less Roger Federer-esque, are still no longer pirate chic, but more “retro bubblegum,” writes the Age. What’s happening?

Sponsor Nike wants Nadal, 22, to dress a bit more adult, though it can’t seem to stop him from picking at the seat of his pants before each serve. “For sure with the sleeveless, not everybody like the sleeveless,” is Nadal’s diplomatic take. “Important thing in the end is not the clothes; is the ball and racket and play well.”

Spain's Rafael Nadal hasn't lost his competitive edge, but his Australian Open sartorial choices have thrown fans for a loop.   (AP Photo)
Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts during his men's singles match with Roko Karanusic of Croatia at the Australian Open yesterday.   (AP Photo)
Who is this generic European youth in the stiff collar and prim stripes? Surely not Rafa Nadal, he of the bandana-and-capri-pants pirate ensembles?   (AP Photo)
Sleeves? A collar? Maybe someone needs to tell Rafael Nadal that ownership of the No. 1 spot does not bring with it a Roger Federer-like dress code.   (AP Photo)
Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a return to Gael Monfils of France during an October 2008 match in Paris%u2014sporting classic Nadal garb.   (AP Photo)
This is the Nadal we remember, the one who beat Andy Murray while looking like a pirate.   (AP Photo)
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