Gustavo Kuerten was almost unknown as a player when he arrived at the French Open in 1997. You might know his story. But what was Gustavo Kuerten’s racquet?
Gustavo Kuerten is one of the legends in tennis. His rise from a relatively unknown tennis player at the French Open in 1997 (he won a Challenger event ahead of the tournament) but he went through the draw in brilliant fashion, beat the ex-Champions, and won his first out of three French Open titles. A lot of people remember him for his flamboyant yellow-blue apparel (iconic Diadora set), some remember him because he was one of the first players on tour to use a polyester string (Luxilon Alu Power Big Banger) but mainly tennis nerds know about Gustavo Kuerten’s racquet.
Gustavo Kuerten used, as so many players after him, the HEAD Pro Tour 630 (or 280 in the U.S.). The racquet has been used by players such as Thomas Muster, Andy Murray, Gilles Simon, Alexei Popyrin, Robin Haase, Tommy Haas, and many more. It was so popular that HEAD and Tennis Warehouse have decided to re-release the racquet as the HEAD Pro Tour 2.0 (click to read my review). It is not exactly the same racquet as it lacks Twaron and is a bit stiffer with a slightly lower swing weight, but it plays similarly and is a suitable tribute to this iconic frame.
Gustavo Kuerten’s Racquet
Thanks to Greg Raven’s collection of racquets specs, we can get a more exact measurement of “Guga’s” racquet. It had the following strung specs (strung with Luxilon Alu Power 16L at 55 lbs in the crosses at 59 in the mains).
Racquet model: HEAD Pro Tour 630
Head size: 95 sq inches (listed as 98 but actually 95)
Beam: 20 mm
Stiffness: 58 RA
Strung weight: 348 grams
Balance: 33 cm / 4 pts HL
Swing weight: 349
Grip: 3 with two Tourna overgrips
Kuerten played with the HEAD Pro Tour 630 under various paint jobs over the years. He also tried the racquet with Flexpoint technology, so the same mold but with Flexpoint holes. He also tested a Pt167A pro stock racquet (Flexpoint Radical MP pro stock mold) which is for sale here at Pro Stock Tennis. But his main match racquet during his career was the HEAD Pro Tour 630.
Kuerten and Luxilon Big Banger
Kuerten was one of the first players to compete with the Luxilon Alu Power Big Banger. His use of the string took the tennis world by storm. Here was a player who attacked the ball aggressively and at times it seemed like he couldn’t miss. The ball dipped in over and over again. It was clear that this technical innovation was giving him an advantage over players that used multifilament or natural gut string that couldn’t provide the same kind of spin and control as a polyester string.
These days polyester strings are pretty much the standard on tour and among most club players, but back then it was something new and fresh and Guga helped to bring Luxilon into the tennis household.
I will be going on the Open Era podcast to talk about his 1997 French Open final, what his choice of strings brought to the table, and much more. Link to come soon!
Guga won 20 ATP titles and 3 French Open’s (1997, 2000, and 2001) before hip problems ended his career in 2008. He is one of the most beloved tennis players in history and really captured the hearts of tennis lovers worldwide when he arrived at the top tennis scene in 1997. His one-handed backhand is especially interesting as it looks slightly weird from a technical point of view, but was as potent (if not more) when it comes to ending points than his forehand.
What do you think of Guga, his equipment, and his career?