I have been writing and talking about Stefanos Tsitsipas' different string setups before and now he has also added a dampener.
Tsitsipas using a dampener
Why is Stefanos Tsitsipas using a dampener when he hasn't done so before? He used to play a full bed of Luxilon 4G (stiff, control-oriented polyester string) but has tried it in a hybrid setup with natural gut and now he is using a hybrid setup with Luxilon Alu Power in the crosses instead of 4G (gut in the mains).
He has also added a rubber band dampener, in Agassi style. This is likely after discussions with his coach Mark Philippoussis, who also used to play with a rubber band dampener.
Why add a dampener so late in his career?
A dampener mute sounds and vibrations coming from the strings as you strike the ball. They are not supposed to affect comfort according to the literature like Technical Tennis and The Physics and Technology of Tennis, but some companies and players are of the opinion that they do. I have not noticed any better comfort when using a dampener and can happily play with or without one. But many players feel a lot more strongly about this topic.
Tsitsipas is rehabbing from a shoulder injury and it is perhaps not surprising that he lost his first match to Jordan Thompson at Indian Wells. Stefanos had surgery on his elbow last year and has had issues with his shoulder in 2023. Just another example of physically demanding and taxing a sport like professional tennis is.
Injury is such a big part of the sport and my guess is that Tsitsipas is trying to find a racquet setup that plays controlled enough but still more comfortable on the arm than his previous 4G setup.
Check out this article if you want to find out more about Stefanos Tsitsipas racquet.