Rafael Nadal's Skills on the Tennis Court a Good Fit for Poker

1 year ago
Rafael Nadal's Skills on the Tennis Court a Good Fit for Poker
08:07
27 Jan

(Photo: Pokerstars.com)

An injury will keep Rafael Nadal off the tennis court for awhile, and according to Team PokerStars Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo, it's not out of the realm of possibilities to see the tennis star make a go of it on the poker tournament circuit someday - perhaps when injuries and age catch up to him for good.

A 2008 Olympic gold medal winner in field hockey with her Dutch national team, Moreira de Melo knows of what she speaks when the topic is using the strategies and resiliency required in athletics and transferring some of that knowledge to the poker tables.

"The more decision-making you have to make in a sport, the more similar it is to poker," she told Express Sport. "I love tennis as well and because of my poker game, I play tennis way more strategically and analytically."

Moreira de Melo has played poker against Nadal, as the Spaniard was also fulfilling ambassador duties with PokerStars until he and the poker site went their separate ways in 2015.

"I could tell [Nadal] was very disciplined like he is in his sport and it was quite transferable to poker," Fatima said. "He was very controlled. He was tight aggressive, very composed and didn't let anyone have information."



Nadal Zooms to Success

Rafa's poker skills were on display for all the world to see in 2014 when he challenged his fans to play against him in a  Zoom Poker tournament on the Pokerstars Facebook app. The tennis pro answered questions in an #AskRafa session during the play money match and managed to beat his challengers 20-18 in a point scoring format, with PokerStars making a donation to charity as a result.

The tennis superstar won three such play money matches before tasting defeat at the hands of his fans and challengers. During his time at PokerStars, Nadal also competed heads-up against Brazilian football star Ronaldo, as well as taking on the ladies all-time money winner, Vanessa Selbst.

"If we talk about comparing tennis and poker, it is competition - to control your emotions and be focused all the time," Nadal told the Wall Street Journal at a 2013 poker tournament. "So in my opinion, tennis and poker—take out the physical performance - there are a lot of similarities. You have to have self-control and wait for your moment."

Take it from the winner of 16 Grand Slams. Might Rafa have some more moments at the poker tables in the future?


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Charles is a Chicago native and long time poker player who dusted off his journalism degree and began writing about poker following the events of Black Friday in 2011. He has written for a number of leading poker websites, offering his insights and expertise on subjects ranging from online poker leg...Read more

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