The Tweener Podcast: Episode 4

It’s episode 4 of The Tweener Podcast, and Joey and Zach are back at it following a week off post-Australian Open. Tweener of the week is followed by an interesting debate regarding Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. We then try out a create-your-own player game based on nationality. Finally, we introduce the 2nd installment of our Stick It Wear?! competition, this time taking place in Rio de Janeiro. Enter your picks before main draw play begins to have a chance at a free t shirt! Read below for all details on how to enter.

Podcast Shortcuts

 

00:00–Introduction (It’s funny this week)

01:53–Tweener of the Week

03:42–Discussing this poll
 Shirt of The Week: “The Man”
theman
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Dimitrov Reportedly Testing New Head Racket in Rotterdam

Alleged picture of Dimitrov's new Head Racket. Photo via: Chiara Gambuzza

Alleged picture of Dimitrov’s new Head Racket. Photo via: Chiara Gambuzza

Grigor Dimitrov played his first round match in Rotterdam with a blacked out racket that bears a lot of similarities to a Head frame. After struggling for much of the match, Dimitrov regrouped to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu in three sets, 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2.

Dimitrov has been testing new rackets for some time now; he was playing with a blacked out Wilson frame in Paris-Bercy last year and then again at the Australian Open in January. Pictured above is Dimitrov’s Head racket reportedly getting strung from December of 2014. Rumors had been swirling of a switch to Head, but when Dimitrov showed up in Melbourne with a Wilson stencil many of those rumors were quieted.

However, in Rotterdam, Dimitrov had no stencil on the racket, and the design of the frame and grommets appears very similar to a Head frame.  More specifically, the rackets bears many resemblances to the Head Prestige line, which is historically one of the most popular players frames.

Dimitrov’s blacked out Racket has no wilson stencil. Photo via: Marcos Zugasti

Dimitrov is no stranger to the feel of a Head racket. He played with one throughout his Junior career as well as his early pro years.

Dimitrov in Rotterdam  2009 with Head Racket

Dimitrov in Rotterdam 2009 with Head Racket

The head size of Dimitrov’s racket appears to be 98 sq. inches, and the string pattern is 16×19. Roger Federer’s switch to the larger head size has garnered much attention from both the media and fellow players. Dimitrov, whose game is remarkably similar to the Swiss great, may just well be taking a page out of Federer’s book. The two players practice together often and surely Dimitrov was tempted by Federer’s success in 2014 with the larger frame. Maria Sharapova, Dimitrov’s girlfriend, also uses a Head racket.

In the match against Mathieu, Dimitrov’s timing appeared to be slightly off, and he struggled to hit the return of serve cleanly. While Dimitrov’s return has always been one of his weaker shots, it was noticeably off for much of the match Monday. However, Dimitrov was getting quite a bit of pace on his first serve, topping the 220 km/hr mark on multiple occasions. As the match progressed, Dimitrov did appear to get more comfortable and started to really strike the ball well late in the second set and into the third.

Adjusting to a new frame is not easy, and it often takes a fair amount of time before players get comfortable and confident with their new stick. Dimitrov fell to Andy Murray in January at the Australian Open, and executed one of the better racket smashes you will ever see.

While that reaction was likely just built up frustration after failing to close out the fourth set, could that be the last time we see Dimitrov with a Wilson racket?

 

Roger Federer Using New Racquet in Hamburg

RogNewRacket

Federer practicing with a blacked-out racket in Hamburg.

After having one of the worst seasons of his career, Roger Federer is making a big change at a crucial time. After using the Wilson Pro Staff 90 for just about his entire professional career, Federer has decided to experiment with something new. The picture above was taken just a couple days ago in Hamburg, where he is playing in the field for the first time in 5 years. After losing in the second round of Wimbledon, Federer said he waited 48 hours, and then decided that he needed more match play.  “I knew I wanted to play more matches, so I decided to enter both Hamburg and Gstaad to prepare myself for the hard-court swing.”

Now if you’re  a long time follower of this blog, you’ll know that we hinted that Roger might try some new equipment. To be honest, I was just saying that out of hope at the time. But now that he really is making a change, I think it’s great news for us Federer fans. This tells me that he wants to play for many years to come, and he still believes he can beat the best. But what difference can a racquet make, you ask? Well, let’s break it down.

First, lets take a look at Rogers old frame.

prostaff

Roger’s frame has been play tested by many, including myself. It is one of the last rackets out there that still uses the old-school 90 inch frame. To be honest, I couldn’t play with it. I’m a 4.5-5.0 player and the frame felt impossible to menuever. The sweet-spot is tiny, I mean tiny. Brad Gilbert has said that he no longer sells the frame in his shop, because,”you have to hit the ball flush, I mean flush.” It’s also on the heavy side, weighing in at just over 357 grams. Keep in mind that might not be the exact racket Fed used, because nearly every player customized their own racquet a little bit. In recent months we’ve seen way too many mishits from the Swiss star, especially off of the backhand side. My friend David Keltz even said that Federer was “the king of mishits.” And while that is obviously an exaggeration, he has a valid point. Everyone in the top 5 in the ATP rankings uses at least a 98 square inch frame, except Federer. With his age getting up there he could use an assist from today’s technology.

The big debate, however, is exactly which racquet Federer is using. Yesterday I tweeted that it was possibly a Wilson Blade BLX 98. (And if you don’t yet follow us on twitter, here’s the link! https://twitter.com/TheTennisNerds) After reading some comments from experts, I’ve come to the conclusion that his new racquet is a slightly modified version of the Blade 98. The head-size is likely to be anywhere from 95-98 square inches. If this is true, the racquet will also be significantly lighter, with the Blade 98 strung-weight at 317.15 grams. You can also notice in the picture that is a 16×19 string pattern, the same as his old racquet. This open string power gives players easier access to power and spin.

Unfortunately, in his first few interviews in Hamburg, not one journalist has asked him about the racquet. This is why I want to get into the field, to ask the questions everybody wants to know the answers to. Roger plays his first match tuesday against the big German Daniel Brands, and with his new racquet, everyone should tune in and check out how he fares!

Let me know what you guys think in the comments below, and please share this with your friends!