Do professional players change racquets?

by Jonas Eriksson

It sounds like a stupid question, but it’s still interesting to discuss how often professional players are trying out new racquets. I came to think of it when I saw Andrey Rublev switch racquets mid-match during the NextGen Finals in Milan!

You rarely see players on this level switching racquets during the match, but Rublev wasn’t feeling it with his Wilson Ultra Tour (likely a pro stock H19) and went back to his Wilson Six One 95 painted as a Wilson Pro Staff 97. After a slump of losing 4-5 games in a row, he came back to win the match. He simply looked more confident with his power game with the other racquet. It’s partly a mental thing of course, but for the professional players, the details are everything!

There are some pro’s that try out new racquets all the time – one of the most prone to this behaviour is Fernando Verdasco who never seems to settle, but then on the other side of the spectrum we have a player like Andy Murray who doesn’t seem to dream of changing his PT57A with 16×19 string pattern. As most racquetholics know, trying out new racquets and trying to find that special “feel” in your ball-striking is like a drug. Playing tennis with the same racquet for a whole month become almost impossible and you’re more concerned with how you racquet feels than what the scores in your matches tell you.

For the pro’s results are of course everything and that’s why they’re always looking for that extra bit of edge to maximize their results on court. Even Rafael Nadal, who has played with his Babolat Aero Pro Drive (with increasing amounts of lead tape) since 2005, was toying around with the HEAD MxG racquets during the off-season. He wanted every little bit of help to improve his, before this stellar season, by his standard mediocre results.

Roger Federer’s racquet change from his 90 sq inch Wilson Pro Staff to his new signature frame the Wilson Pro Staff 97 Roger Federer Autograph is one of the most famous racquet-switches in the history of the sport and look at what results it has helped bring. Bigger hitting surface has reduced his shanking on the backhand and made that wing, with the help of Stefan Edberg and Ivan Ljubicic, into a fantastic weapon that made it possible to beat arch-enemy Nadal four times in the 2017 season.

So not all tennis professionals are open to changing racquets because they’re creatures of habit, but a lot of them are often testing new strings, new racquets, new layups, new string patterns and new lead placements to see what edge it can bring to their game. I recently wrote about Dominic Thiem testing a new string, potentially one way to help his game into the form it was some months ago.

Tennis equipment is simply a part of the equation and although it’s not healthy to be obsessed about it, it’s definitely an important part of the game alongside fitness, footwork, technique and general health.

I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve been changing racquets too much lately and in my latest hitting session I stuck to what I’m comfortable with – the HEAD LM Radical Tour and after a couple of poor sessions before that, I finally found my groove again. Because changing and trying out racquets too often can definitely throw you off your game. Make sure to always keep “old trustworthy” in your bag so that, if the equipment you’re testing doesn’t feel right, you can recalibrate your game and get back into the zone.

How often do you switch racquets? Do you ever do it mid-match? Please comment below!

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Will P. November 11, 2017 - 07:08

Wait was rafa trying out head rackets?

Aaron November 12, 2017 - 03:23

I actually think the Six One is painted as a Burn .
Is he officially endorsing something? Wonder why Wilson wouldn’t paint them both the same.

Tennisnerd November 13, 2017 - 09:34

Hi Aaron,
I don’t think there is any PWS on it so it should be a H22. Which means he is switching between the most popular Wilson pro stock models – the H19 (Ultra Tour) or H22 (Burn). Cheers / Jonas

Joep November 12, 2017 - 10:25

Look closer: Rublev didn’t go back to his painted Six One but picked up a painted Burn!!!! There is no PES!!!

Tennisnerd November 13, 2017 - 09:33

Yes, it is actually a Wilson H22 pro stock. So he’s switching between H22 and H19 right now. Cheers / Jonas

Joep November 12, 2017 - 10:26


Aaron November 13, 2017 - 12:46

Hey mate, been trying out cyclone and cyclone tour as my main strings, thinking of trying a hybrid with both of them but not sure with wat configuration, wat would you do and why

Tennisnerd November 13, 2017 - 14:08

Hi Aaron,
Not sure how a hybrid of Cyclone and Cyclone Tour would benefit you, but an interesting experiment for sure.

If you like a bit of a softer setup (because Cyclone can be quite firm), I would go with Cyclone Tour in the mains at 24 kg and Cyclone in the crosses at 22,5 kg. Interesting to see how that works for you. Could potentially be a winner. Volkl products are pretty great and Cyclone is an excellent string for the price.

Let me know how it goes! Good luck / Jonas

Gert Heller November 17, 2017 - 20:56

Isn’t it just the new custom line of Wilson, one racket green, the other red. They just launched it.

Tennisnerd November 19, 2017 - 09:32

Hi Gert,
I got it from credible sources that it is a Wilson H22 and h19 pro stock racquets that Andrey is tinkering with under so called paint jobs. Cheers / Jonas

Luis November 19, 2017 - 09:14

Let’s not forget Roger still won 17 GS win a 90sqin racquet.
The last two came from a rejuvenation effort in technique and equipment to compensate for his own notice of physique and reservation/conservation of energy. Ljubicic, the master of the high backhand has helped Roger the most here. Roger was hesitant twice on the switch, he tested and tested, and did not like, reverted back to the 2014 release 90 to end he year, then another batch of testing and decided in one of them, the current one. Then adding his recovery training after surgery and taking care of himself battling his “aging” young body is another big factor that enabled him to maximize himself this year. If he played a few more tournaments, notably in clay, would had made enough pts to get #1, but his quality would had dropped down, so probably not and be injured like Nadal is again now….just like it would the past 3-4 years where his struggle was noticeable.

So to all thinking is the racquet, It is not the racquet. If he were forever 26, he would still be playing with that 90sq one

Tennisnerd November 20, 2017 - 13:24

Good point, Luis. You can play amazing and legendary tennis with a 90 sq inch racquet of course. But I do think those extra sq inches did help him to play more aggressively against Rafa and other massive top-spinners. So it’s a combination. A sensible playing schedule is becoming more and more evident for most pros. Just like at how many players were injured this year! Cheers / J

Luis November 22, 2017 - 01:52

They should also stop slowing down the courts for Nadal Spin to climb the stadium before you hit a ball


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