I don't think this has been posted yet. I searched and didn't see anything. If so, sorry for doubling up. Play for Style Points Ahead of the U.S. Open By MATTHEW FUTTERMAN August 25, 2008 Turns out sleeveless shirts and calf-length shorts aren't, in fact, fit for a king. It has been quite a summer for Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal. First came the epic five-set victory over rival Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Then he struck gold in Beijing. Last week, he made his ascension official, displacing Mr. Federer as the top-ranked player in the world. [Go to article] Getty Images Rafael Nadal's management team is shifting the Spanish tennis star's on-court wardrobe to more grown-up attire. Now, as Mr. Nadal sets his sights on the U.S. Open, the hunky rebel known for his muscle shirts, capri-length pants and bandanna will morph into more of a traditionalist, starting with his on-court wardrobe. The shift appears part of a larger strategy by Mr. Nadal's tight-knit management team to transform the sublime baseliner from a teenage heartthrob into a grown-up star. Since his win at Wimbledon in July, Mr. Nadal's visibility and marketing potential have risen significantly, and his managers say the older look will allow him to emerge as the kind of sports-marketing force that befits the best tennis player on the planet. "Rafa will have a new image at the U.S. Open," said Carlos Costa, an agent with IMG Worldwide, who represents Mr. Nadal. In the past, Mr. Nadal, who is known as much for his sartorial choices as for his game, has said he has had little input on the design of his clothing. But Mr. Costa said he and the player worked closely with designers at Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike during the past year to come up with a new look. "It is fair to say that it is more mature," Nike spokesman Kilee Hughes said of the new on-court look Mr. Nadal will sport for the first time when the U.S. Open begins Monday in Flushing Meadows, in the Queens borough of New York City. The shift comes with certain risks, even for what is perhaps the world's best marketing company. Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment in Evanston, Ill., a celebrity advertising consultant to corporations, said Mr. Nadal has become a hero with a younger, hipper generation of fans because he didn't conform to the traditions of his sport. "He is just becoming known, now that he has finally gotten over the Federer hump," Mr. Shabelman said. "You would think they would want to embrace the youthful exuberance of his personality and his look. Then again, Nike does have a way with these things. It's hard to argue with their success." To be sure, Nike isn't aiming to turn Mr. Nadal into a throwback to Bill Tilden, the famed American tennis player. The company says the new outfits will continue to reflect the core of Mr. Nadal's image as the passionate Spaniard from the island of Majorca, whose flair and imagination on the court contrast with Mr. Federer's Swiss-style efficiency and precision. Mr. Federer, 27 years old, is often talked about as the greatest player in history. He has won 12 Grand Slam titles, two behind Pete Sampras's record 14, and reportedly collected an estimated $35 million in winnings and endorsement deals last year, enjoying the riches the corporate world usually bestows on the player who dominates a sport with such a wealthy fan base. Yet for all his greatness, Mr. Federer is more admired than beloved. The 22-year-old Mr. Nadal, on the other hand, has been a cult figure among both passionate and casual tennis fans -- as well as some people who have never picked up a racket -- since his first successes on the professional tour five years ago. As a child, he shunned the tennis factories in Florida and learned the game mainly from his uncle, who is his longtime coach. The idea for an image makeover came from Mr. Nadal himself, says Benito Perez-Barbadillo, who handles press relations for the tennis player. He says the new look was developed gradually over the past couple of years, with sponsors, Mr. Nadal's communications team and the player himself working together. "It's not like remaking a Coca-Cola bottle. Rafa has a clear idea of what he wants to be," says Mr. Perez-Barbadillo. "It's the normal evolution of a person; he has changed, his tastes have changed." Mr. Perez-Barbadillo says the colors of the new gear reflect the player's personality. Mr. Nadal doesn't like black, but prefers bright colors that are more "Latin." In an announcement this week that will accompany the unveiling of Mr. Nadal's new wardrobe, Nike says the short-sleeve polo shirts -- complete with mesh side panels -- will allow him to "counterpunch with color." The company says "With colors as vibrant as the culture of Majorca, Rafa will burst onto the court in chlorine blue, orange blaze, white and concord [purple]. Rafa's contrasting tones are set to shine, day and night in the city that never sleeps." His shorter shorts will be loose, as opposed to their tight, sometimes see-through predecessors. They will have Velcro fastenings. Meanwhile, Mr. Nadal isn't quite done milking the hunky look: He appears topless on the cover of the latest issue of New York magazine.