Home GearTennis Racquets Has Federer’s new racquet helped him to number one?

Has Federer’s new racquet helped him to number one?

by Jonas Eriksson

I’ve seen this topic elsewhere but just wanted to weigh in on it from my perspective: Has Roger Federer’s new racquet helped him reclaim the number one position in the ATP rankings?

The start of 2018 has, like 2017, proven to be a spectacular and significant success for Roger Federer’s career. He defended his Australian Open title, making his Grand Slam count to 20 titles and in Rotterdam last week, he won his 97th ATP title, making him the oldest number one ranked player in history. Quite an achievement considering that some years ago, people wondered when he was going to retire.

Before 2017, Federer won his latest grand slam title in Wimbledon 2012, then playing with his Wilson Pro Staff 90 racquet. According to prostocktennis.com, that racquet had the following specs:

Roger Federer’s Pro Staff 90 specs:

Head size: 90 sq. in. / 581 sq. cm.
Length:27 in. / 68.6 cm.
Strung weight:12.5 oz. / 355 gr.
Strung balance: 321 mm
Stiffness: 58
Grip size: L3 (4 3/8)
Grip type:Leather + Wilson Pro Overgrip
String pattern:16 Mains / 19 Crosses
Paint: Pro Staff Six.One 90
Lead:No (Not visible)

What stands out from these specs is obviously the stiffness rating of 58 RA compared to the retail model which has 66. Granted, Roger doesn’t need the power, but if this is the case it shows that the pro’s in a majority of the cases play with lower RA racquets and the retail-buying racquet community end up with sore elbows and wrists.

This was the racquet Roger was playing to win 17 grand slams. But the last three he has been using the Wilson Pro Staff 97 Roger Federer Autograph, which Wilson launched in 2014 with a massive success when it comes to sales ratings. In my Roger Federer racquet post you can find the specs of that racquet, which has a 7 sq inch bigger head-size and a thicker and stiffer frame giving Federer and its users more free power.

This increase in power and the size of the sweet spot has been visible in Roger’s game the last few years. First with Stefan Edberg as a coach when they launched the so called SABR attack where Federer attacked the net straight after the return and secondly with Ivan Ljubicic who has been instrumental in creating a far more aggressive and stable one-handed backhand. That one-handed backhand has now become a weapon instead of the liability that it was before, especially against Rafael Nadal’s looping top spin.

The larger racquet has definitely helped Roger on the backhand wing. The extra head-size has definitely reduced the number of shanks and the more generous power has really helped him become more aggressive and he hits far more winners of that wing now. The smaller head-size usually helps with control, but you don’t really see Federer missing more because of the increase in power.

So to the question if Federer’s racquet has helped him become the number one tennis player in the world again, I will definitely have to answer: “Yes”.

This obviously not the only reason for his success. His enormous desire to keep improve as a tennis player, his love for the game, his solid, intelligent and stable team and his amazing talent are the key drivers for his success, but the racquet has certainly helped.

We’re not all so lucky to have a racquet company design a racquet for our needs and game and it’s important to remember that the Wilson Pro Staff 97 Roger Federer Autograph is not for everyone, but finding a racquet that accentuates your game and minimizes your weaknesses, is definitely worth the journey. I’m sure Roger would agree.

How do you think Roger’s new racquet has affected his game? And do you have a similar experience of a new racquet or string making a drastic change to your tennis?


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Benicio February 19, 2018 - 18:35

Yeah.. I’m on the same page on that.

Field of “Racquet acoustics” is yet less explored… may elucidate ‘some things’. btw, conglatuations 2 Roger!

Luis G February 26, 2018 - 06:49

If Roger was forever 26, with that body and fitness, athleticism of then, he could still be using the 90 today and win still. However, his body has unfortunately slowed down. He and his team has realized that, and have taken careful approach and precautions to his game, and schedule. The new racquet is only a counter-adjustment to his body, that allows him to to play more conservative on his body while still producing similar balls that he was used to. Took a bit of a learning curve (two periods of testing), surgeries and rescheduling optimized to him to get back into top form again.

The racquet change then was part of the re-adjustment process, not the sole factor why his game is top again.

P.S. he also changed a bit his approach to high balls on the BH side that took immediately when 1hbh master Ljubicic decided to help him, that is not related to the racquet change.

Tennisnerd February 26, 2018 - 09:38

I agree with parts of this, Luis, but I think he’s actually playing better now and shanking less on his backhand than he did when he was 26! Cheers / J

Secret Gopher April 15, 2018 - 18:50

When I hear someone say a good player can play with any racquet, I can’t help but think I am listening to a masochist. It may be true, but is is also true that RF almost instantly improved when he switched to a frame with a larger head. Not only did he stop shanking as many balls, his average shot improved in terms of pace and spin/control. It was easy to see he was more relaxed and fluid than was the case with the smaller frame.

Young players should be reminded of this and not told, “it’s not the racquet”. It might not be the racquet, but removing that variable is something that can be controlled, so why not do it?

The truth is most players have no idea if they are playing with the best frame possible. How many time have you seen any player hitting with a stack of frames to narrow down what works best for them? Or better yet a stack of the same frames with different weights, balance points etc.? Probably never. What you do see is a couple of frames being demoed and the least sucky frame ending up being the pick. If you went to an eye doctor for an exam and you were asked to look at a chart and pick from only two lens options would you buy into that process?

Tennisnerd April 16, 2018 - 11:35

Interesting comment, Gopher! Agree that more players should put some effort into the their racquet choice! Cheers / J


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