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.
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!