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10:58AM

Off-Court Fashion Hits and Misses: Rafael Nadal

by Kait O'Callahan

Tennis players are constantly the subject of scrutiny when it comes to what they wear on the court.  Male or female, if you’re a top player, you can bet everyone will be giving the thumbs up or down to your Nike duds when a Grand Slam rolls around.  Looking at on-court photos, we can deduce that the likes of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer all have spectacular style. 

But do they really?

Off-court might tell a different tale.  Free from the restrictions of sponsorship, tennis players can choose exactly what they want to wear.  And that’s not always a good thing.

Weekly we will be analysing the top players off-court style.  Shoes, earrings, cardigans... nothing will go unnoticed.

Today we’re taking a look at the man who still takes fashion advice from his mother... Rafael Nadal.

“Wear whatever makes you feel confident and comfortable,” is Nadal’s advice to men who wish to copy his style.  But while no one wants to be picking and prissing when they head out, is Nadal’s formula really fashionable?

His best look

While many would argue Nadal looks best when he isn’t wearing clothes, he does scrub up nicely in a pair of well-fitting jeans.  Unfortunately, Nadal has trouble finding the perfect pair of pants. “I often find it difficult to find a pair that fits me well.  The way I’m built means I have muscular thighs and calves and a thin waist, so trousers very often don’t fit...  Usually I end up wearing the bigger pair and holding them up with a  belt,” he confessed in an interview in 2009.

Judging from these pictures, we urge Nadal to head towards the tighter end of the scale. 

Armani possibly sniffed a sponsorship deal after hearing Nadal’s pants don’t fit and the Italian brand signed him up in 2011. 

It was a very popular campaign...

And he’s been rocking the jeans ever since.

His Worst Look

When not dressing up for parties and events, Nadal says he wears only polos, t-shirts and jeans.  It’s a good thing, for Nadal’s dress sense regularly falls flat on the red carpet. Dressing outside of his comfort zone, Nadal leaves shirts untucked and hair ungroomed. The man who always looks cool on the court often looks rather dorky off it. 

On second thoughts, perhaps it is best he leaves the hair alone.

His accessories

Nadal isn’t a fan of tattoos and he doesn’t like piercings on men, so there’s no danger of him going all Miley Cyrus on us.  And while his hair may be fairly terrible most of the time, he does seem to have exquisite taste in shoes. 

Case in point.

For the most part...

Nadal looks pretty good.  No, he doesn’t work the red carpet particularly well, but he’s not trying to be a fashion icon.  And when he does play the fashion star, as in his Armani campaign, he does it pretty damn well.  He probably will never win an award for fashion, but hey, with 11 Major titles I'm sure that won't keep him up at night. 

And honestly, when pretty good is this good, that’s just fine by us. 

Photos:  AP, Getty, WENN

Kait O'Callahan also has her own tennis blog Any Given Surface.  To follow her on Twitter, click here.

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