How a switch to a Babolat racket propelled Carlos Moya to French Open glory

Kevin Palmer

Former French Open champion Carlos Moya has recounted a moment that he believes was crucial on his road to French Open glory in 1998, with his decision to switch rackets proving to be inspired.

It was at the back end of 1996 that the youthful Spaniard picked up a Babolat Pure Drive racket for the first time and while the frame was designed for female players, he instantly felt it could take his game to the next level.

Within a few weeks of switching to the Pure Drive, Moya was competing in the Australian Open final and the crowning glory of his career came as he beat Alex Corretja in the French Open final.  

“I remember practising with a Babolat racket in 1996 and straightway it felt like it could be special for me, but I was playing with a different racket at the time and did not change straight away,” stated Moya, who is currently a key member of Rafael Nadal’s coaching team.

“Then at the end of that year, I played a tournament in Bercy with a Babolat racket and I beat Tim Henman in the first round and then Boris Becker in the second round as I got to the quarter-finals.

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“I remember I had only two rackets that week as I was just practising, but it felt right for me and then a few weeks later at the Australian Open, I had the turning point of my career when I got to the final.

“At the time, I was looking for the racket to have a lot of power. Yes I wanted control, but I needed power to make a break in the game and that is what I felt with the Pure Drive. I didn’t find this with any other racket and that’s why I have stuck with it.”

Moya admitted the challenge of finding the idea racket is no easy task for professional or club players, but he suggested the game’s finest appreciate pretty quickly when they have stumbled across the right frame for them.

“You have the strings to consider, you have the tension, you have the balance of the racket and I have worked with Babolat down the years to give me the weapon that has helped me to do well on court,” he added.

“I still play with Babolat rackets. Believe me, most professional players need two minutes to know whether the racket is going to work and I felt that for me.

“When I started using the Pure Drive, they said it was a woman’s racket, but that did not worry me. It has been my racket for a long time now and was very good for my career.”

The tenth edition of the Babolat Pure Drive will be used by Fabio Fognini, Garbine Muguruza and a host of top players when the French Open gets underway next week, with the exact frame being used by the pros also available to buy online at tennis outlets.

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