Tennis fans tuning into Rafael Nadal’s latest match at SW19 were left bemused by the Spanish star’s painstaking on-court rituals, which include obsessively touching his body and hair multiple times – and adjusting his shorts – ahead of every serve.
The world number four, who yesterday saw off Dutch player Botic van de Zandschulp in straight sets on Centre Court, has famously relied on the same ritual throughout his 20-year career – but observers watching his latest performances have questioned whether the athlete has recently added even more touches to his quirky regime.
With two grand slams in the bag already this year, and the Wimbledon title potentially just a few matches away, it’s unlikely Nadal, who’s now 36, is going to stop his superstitious touches anytime soon.
Since the grass court tournament began last Monday, legions of fans watching Nadal’s matches have picked up on the star’s torturous routine, with some even expressing concern that the tennis player may have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
A ritual that’s working! World number 4 Rafael Nadal has been performing a series of superstitious habits ahead of points on court at Wimbledon this week
The 36-year-old star has followed an on-court ritual throughout his 20-year tennis career, but some fans watching him at Wimbledon have questioned whether his regime has become even more complicated
Left shoulder: After adjusting his shorts, the Spanish tennis star then turns his attention to his upper body
Ahead of his serve, he’ll touch both shoulders…and then move on to his face
After tucking his hair behind his left ear, Nadal then tweaks his nose
There’s then another tucking of hair behind his right ear…before he wipes his forehead and finally begins his serve
The routine ahead of a serve follows a pattern that includes adjusting his shorts at the front and back, touching his left shoulder, then right shoulder, before tucking his hair behind his ears and tweaking his nose and touching his cheeks.
A final wipe of the forehead with his forearm appears to signal he’s ready to serve.
On second serves, Nadal will drop the touching of the shoulders.
MailOnline has contacted Nadal’s agent for comment.
@ambrose_mensch wrote: ‘How did I not notice until now Nadal’s OCD-ish pre-serve ritual with the shirt collar pull, hair and headband tweak, and face wipe thing?’
@GoldCascade added: ‘He seems to have got worse…..Haven’t seen this but I guess he still does the ritual of lining up the bottles under his chair.’
Yesterday saw star overcome Dutch player Botic van de Zandschulp in straight sets to reach the competition’s quarter finals – where he’ll face Taylor Fritz
@CanIjustsayy__said: ‘Has Rafa Nadal ever publicly spoken about having OCD? Just watching Wimbledon and noticed he carries out the same shirt-tug, nose, ear, nose, ear ritual before each serve. He looks really stressed. I hope he’s okay and not struggling with anything.’
It’s not just a pre-serve ritual that the tennis master is known to follow, his attention to a set regime apparently begins as soon as he steps on court.
The star will often remove his jacket facing the crowd, jumping as he does so, and carefully line two Evian bottles alongside one another, ensuring the labels are always facing the court.
The tennis champ’s late career flourish has seen him win the French Open and Australian Open this year, with the possibility of a third Slam at Wimbledon this week, which would take him to 23 major titles.
He’ll play Taylor Fritz next – the American 11th seed who beat Nadal in the final at Indian Wells earlier this season – but remains confident of reaching the semi-finals:
‘The positive thing is the first two matches haven’t been good and then two games at a high level,’ he said.
‘The improvement is there and I’m happy to be back in the quarter-finals after three years without playing here.
‘It is going to be a tough quarter-final. But at the same time we are in quarter-finals, so you can’t expect an easy opponent out there’.
Ahead of the tournament, Nadal announced he’s set to become a father later this year, telling reporters that his wife Mery Perello is expecting their first child. The couple dated for 14 years before they tied the knot at a British-owned fortress in Majorca in 2019
Ahead of the tournament, Nadal announced he’s set to become a father later this year, telling reporters that his wife Mery Perello is expecting their first child.
The tennis ace confirmed the news at a press conference in Mallorca last month following rumours that she was pregnant, saying: ‘If all goes well, I’m going to be a father.’