Classy or weird? Pedro Cachin asking for Rafael Nadal souvenir causes a racket

Argentine requested a T-shirt of Nadal's after losing to the 22-time Grand Slam champion in Madrid and has garnered mixed reactions from his fellow pros

Rafael Nadal, left, embraces Pedro Cachin at the net following their match at the Madrid Open. Getty
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Swapping jerseys in football is commonplace, and part of a tradition that dates back almost 100 years. It gives opponents the chance to show mutual respect, while keeping a special memento from a certain game.

That tradition has spread across sports, catching on in basketball, NFL, and other sports. This week in Madrid, Argentina’s Pedro Cachin may have just started the trend in tennis.

It wasn’t a jersey swap per se, but after he lost a gruelling three-hour match to Rafael Nadal at the Caja Magica on Monday, Cachin expressed his admiration for the Spanish 22-time major champion and made a surprise request.

“You have fulfilled a dream for me. Can I keep your shirt or something of yours?” Cachin asked Nadal as they shook hands at the net.

Nadal then went to his bench to collect a used match shirt and gave it to Cachin.

As Nadal resumed his farewell tour this spring in what is very likely the last season of his professional career, Cachin knew how special it was to be drawn against the Spaniard for the first time, and in a goosebump-inducing atmosphere no less, as the roaring home crowd on Manolo Santana Stadium rallied behind their greatest ever champion.

It was a beautiful moment and a warm gesture that took the tour – and social media – by storm, with many players weighing in over the past few days here in Madrid.

“If I would play against Rafa, for sure I would ask for a T-shirt,” said women's World No 1 Iga Swiatek.

Third-seeded Daniil Medvedev thought the request from Cachin was “classy”, one that perhaps might inspire others to begin collecting shirts from their opponents.

“That was pretty fun from Pedro. I felt like it was a classy move, which we don’t have in tennis. I don’t think I ever had it,” said Medvedev.

“I think someone once asked me, it was in a Grand Slam. I don’t think I gave him because I had like five T-shirts, it was like in Australia or US Open, one of the two, and it was humid and I said, ‘Look, after the tournament ask me and I’ll do it no problem’.

“I would never have wanted to from one person. If I would do it, I would start collecting, five, 10, here and there. Not my thing to do it with one person. So I would collect many, if it would become a thing.”

Tunisian Ons Jabeur is also a fan of the idea, and said she’d love to display kit worn by her opponents to display at her own academy one day.

“I think because he’s Argentinian, and he’s into football a lot and that’s what they do in football, but I think it was a very sweet thing to have,” Jabeur said of Cachin.

“But now basically I’m going to ask every player for their T-shirt maybe. I think the most common thing in tennis would be a racquet, not a T-shirt, but definitely one day I would want to have a souvenir of the players that I like and enjoy, maybe for my academy to keep it for sure.”

Having a souvenir from a specific match is something many players would like to have but rarely thought of much in the past.

Outside the ceremonial pre-match photo taken at the net, there aren’t that many opportunities to personally commemorate a tennis battle.

Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos once took a selfie with Novak Djokovic after he lost to the Serb in a match in Doha, and he did the same with Nadal in Barcelona a couple of months later.

“The picture is better than taking something from them. I don’t want to tell them, ‘Give me one T-shirt’ or something like that. So a picture allows me to remember them for all my life,” Zeballos told ATP Uncovered.

Former US Open finalist Madison Keys said she would have loved to find a special way to commemorate a match she played against Serena Williams in New York in 2015.

“I don't know if I have ever wanted to take, like, a souvenir, but there have been moments where in the moment I was, like, ‘Wow, I wish I could bottle this moment so I could revisit it’,” recalled Keys.

“I think that one moment for me that really stands out is when I played Serena on Labor Day Weekend on [Arthur] Ashe [Stadium], and it was packed, and it was the year she was going for all four [grand slam]. So everyone was there.

“It was honestly the coolest experience to be able to walk out. Obviously I lost, which kind of sucked, but I mean, just that moment is something that I think will always forever be one of my favourite tennis memories.”

Williams donned a coral pink tie-dye dress during that US Open; surely Keys would have loved to have one of those hanging in her closet, or at least the accompanying yellow bandana?

Not everyone was on board with Cachin’s move. Jiri Lehecka, who knocked out Nadal in the fourth round on Tuesday, marking the Mallorcan’s last appearance on the ATP Tour in Madrid, said asking for a shirt was the farthest thing from his mind.

“It's tough for me to say, because I went on the court to win, you know?” said the Czech No 30 seed.

“Then it's tough for me to run after him and to ask him if he can give me something. I don't want to sound disrespectful or something – that's the last thing I would like to – but if you are playing a match and you are thinking about asking the guy to give you something, then why you are there? It's kind of weird, in my opinion.”

Nick Kyrgios does not agree, and responded on X to a pundit who made that same argument, saying: “NBA players, soccer players do it all the time? It’s a memory, an experience that took a lifetime of work and that less than one per cent of humans get to.”

Updated: May 03, 2024, 9:14 AM