I’ve been playing a lot of racquets lately, which is not a great strategy if you want to focus on your game, because too much attention is given to how the racquet plays and not how YOU play.
Anyway, it is really important if you’re serious about your tennis that the racquet feels good in your hand. I had that feeling, and results to boot, with the beautiful Wilson Blade 93. But something happened that I hadn’t experienced before, wrist pains. My assumption was that it was due to the racquet’s stiffness rating (67) and that that together with the small head size and tight string pattern made me mishit more and therefore put more strain on the wrist.
So I decided to sell my racquets and move on to other pastures. First in line was the most talked about racquet ever (at least hyped in the launch stage) the Wilson Roger Federer Autograph.
I don’t really know what I was thinking to test a racquet weighing around 360 grams strung with a RA (stiffness) value of 68 which was even higher than my beloved Blade, but when you’re a Fed fan curiosity gets the better of you.
How does it play then? Well, if you’re fine with swinging a heavy stick, it’s very nice. The ball pockets nicely, you get decent control (although it’s not as good as the 90-inch pro staff) and there is AMPLE power. It takes time to get used to and you really need to have proper technique and prepare your shots in due time, but once you do it can do amazing things, like hit a lot of serve and forehand winners.
The RF97 has many things going for it, but I ended up having two problems. It felt a bit too powerful and with its high launch angle (16×19 pattern), it also became slightly unpredictable, but this could have been due to tired arms and late preparation. Power can be harnessed by changing strings and increasing tension, but I still didn’t feel a hundred percent at home with it, although it did offer massive spin.
What I should have seen coming was the wrist pain. The RF97 is not as head light as the Blade and even stiffer so it didn’t take long for me to get uncomfortable. Like with the Blade, this was a shame since I really enjoyed the racquet.
If you don’t have any arm problems and don’t mind heavy racquets, I can really recommend it. It’s remarkably solid, has enough power to satisfy most people and does most things really well.
The RF97 told me that I wanted a similar feel in a more head light frame and flexible frame. Luckily I’ve managed to find this in the pro stock frame TGK 231.3 which is a rare 16×19 string pattern Microgel Radical MP (much talked about frame with lots of options for customization). I actually managed to acquire Marin Cilic’s actual frame, which was incredibly lucky and really plays great.
The TGK 231.3 has a RA of 58 and weighs in around 348 grams with silicone in the handle and some lead at 12 o’ clock. It’s solid, powerful, but not so tough on the arm (haven’t experienced any pain yet), so I’m sticking to it for time being.
But you know how it is with tennis racquets…