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Beyond the Baseline

Fashion Files: Rafael Nadal

Introducing the Fashion Files, where we track the style evolution of tennis' biggest stars.

What better place to start than with No. 1 Rafael Nadal? Short-shorts, capris, T-shirts and sleeveless -- Nadal has worn it all during his 13-year career. Here's a look at the Spaniard's on-court outfits through the years.

Rafael Nadal

2003 Monte Carlo Masters: Introducing 16-year-old Nadal, in his short-shorts and incredibly baggy T-shirt. Do those sleeves cover his elbow? Yes, they do.


Rafael Nadal

2003 Wimbledon: Still swimming in shirts. If Rafa was wearing this, just imagine the tarp James Blake must have had on. (Spoiler alert.)


Rafael Nadal

2004: From billowy shirts to the sleek, aggressive look of his soon-to-be signature sleeveless shirt, 2004 is when Nadal began morphing into a style icon.


Rafael Nadal

2005: And with the addition of his signature "piratas," a look was born.


Rafael Nadal

2005 French Open: Nike nailed down Rafa's signature style just in time for his first Grand Slam title.


Rafael Nadal

2005 U.S. Open: And then Nike messed it up by putting him in a skin-tight, sleeveless tank top. Incidentally, Nadal lost that year, in the third round, to the aforementioned XXL-kitted Blake. Let us never speak of this again.


Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

2006 French Open: And with that, never again did Nike try to make two kits out of one swath of fabric for its two male stars. Can you imagine if this happened to Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova? Awk-ward.


Rafael Nadal

2006 U.S. Open: Nadal got a brief respite from his capris when Nike put him in long shorts for the summer. He lost to Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinals. Don't mess with a guy's mojo!


Rafael Nadal

2007 Australian Open: Sure enough, back to the piratas.


Rafael Nadal

2009: By the start of this year, Nadal was 22, he was the reigning No. 1 and he had won four French Open titles and one Wimbledon. He wasn't a kid anymore and he certainly wasn't an exciting novelty in tennis. So it was time to stop dressing him up like one ...


Rafael Nadal

2009 Australian Open: Voila! Putting Nadal permanently in sleeves and shorts wasn't so bad after all. Winning the title definitely helped everyone forget the piratas.


Rafael Nadal

2009 Madrid Masters: Putting him in a polo shirt, though? That may have been a little too much.


Rafael Nadal

2009 French Open: His worst look and the one that gives Rafa fans nightmares. The Pepto pink foreshadowed the heartburn that came when he suffered his only loss at the French Open, to Robin Soderling in the fourth round.


Rafael Nadal

2010 U.S. Open: The best kit of his career: Darth Rafa.


 

Rafael Nadal

2014: Which brings us to Nadal in his current form. The simple T-shirt -- which has been a staple for a while now -- and short-shorts are back.


All photos via Getty Images

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