Next Gen Abdullah Shelbayh tells how Rafael Nadal inspired his switch to left hand

Shelbayh looked up to Nadal and Roger Federer in his childhood.

by Dzevad Mesic
Next Gen Abdullah Shelbayh tells how Rafael Nadal inspired his switch to left hand
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Rising star Abdullah Shelbayh reveals he looked up to Roger Federer before seeing Rafael Nadal play and deciding to switch to playing with his left hand. Shelbayh, 20, comes from Jordan and he is currently enjoying a career-high ranking of No 187 in the world.

Ahead of his Next Gen ATP Finals debut in Jeddah, Shelbayh spoke with the ATP website and revealed to them that he is naturally right-handed and that Nadal inspired his switch to playing with the left hand. “My first memory of watching tennis was Roger [Federer].

I used to play with the right and one-hand backhand as well because of Roger. I didn’t know who Rafa was. I saw one guy playing Roger because I only knew Roger back then. Then I saw one guy playing with the left hand [Nadal] and later that day I started to play with the left hand," Shelbayh told the ATP website.

Shelbayh hopes to do great things for Jordan, Arab tennis

The biggest name in Arab tennis is Ons Jabeur, who became the first Arab to reach a Grand Slam final and enter the top-10. Shelbayh, who won his maiden Challenger title in Charleston recently, admits he is inspired by Jabeur and reveals that the Tunisian tennis star has always been very nice to him.

Shelbayh is hoping to follow in Jabeur's path and do great things for Arab tennis in the future. “What Ons has been doing lately is incredible and it motivates me. Knowing where she comes from and especially on the WTA side, it’s something that’s inspiring for all of the Arab region.

I’ve practised with her when I was very young. It was incredible. She has always been so nice, very humble. She’s still as great as before even though she’s achieved much more throughout the past two, three years.

When I was able to see her [this year] she was telling me that she has been checking my results and she’s happy with what I’ve been doing," Shelbayh said.

Rafael Nadal Roger Federer