Pro player racquets

What was different with Federer’s racquet compared to retail?

Many tennis nerds and racquet enthusiasts have wondered, what was different with Federer’s racquet compared to retail? Let’s dive in.

The video below was made thanks to Michael Tuson. A fellow tennis nerd who owns a few of Federer’s personal racquets (with a bonus of Safin’s personal frame as well at the end of the video). He sent me a few videos of his frames and explained the differences. I knew some of them but still enjoyed seeing it up close and getting confirmation of what was different with Federer’s racquet compared to the racquets you could buy in the store.

The video deals with Federer’s Pro Staff 90, the racquet he used until he switched to the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph in 2013-2014. Some would argue that Federer hit his forehand better with the 90 sq inch, but few can argue that he hit the backhand better with the small head size. Especially dealing with Nadal’s huge top spin shots.

I think the change was due and helped him have that spectacular 2017 and, in part, 2018 season, where he won three grand slam titles and a couple of Masters 1000.

(The video will be live on Friday, Sep 2nd at 8 pm CET.)

Is a 90 sq inch racquet too small for today’s game?

You can play with whatever you like. As long as you enjoy tennis. But suppose you want to play competitive tennis. In that case, the smaller head size can be extremely unforgiving and disadvantageous, especially when dealing with players that hit with a lot of top spin.

This type of racquet requires excellent footwork and timing, which Federer had in spades. Still, in the end, he made the switch. The game evolved and became faster, heavier, and more physical. And racquets changed with the times. Not in a huge way, though. Murray still uses his old racquet, Novak’s racquet change was more minimal, guys like Wawrinka, Del Potro, Evans etc, all stayed with the 95 sq inch, which is the smallest you see on the tour today besides Cilic’s 93 sq inch.

So for club players, you can even use a Pro Staff 85, if that is what you enjoy using. It’s good to understand the downsides of power and forgiveness compared to modern racquets. Still, there are benefits. Smaller head sizes can be swung faster despite being quite heavy (they need more weight to play stable). They offer pinpoint precision and are generally more suited toward aggressive players like Federer.

But overall, you’re better off using something more forgiving. Federer fans can be happy using the Pro Staff 97 315g instead of going all the way to his 340g autograph version for example.

Maybe you want to check out Federer’s racquet history?

As a nice finish, you can watch this video from TennisTV/ATP of matches where Federer went into “God mode.”

TN

View Comments

  • Hi Jonas,

    I am not a big expert, but many of my professional tennis player and coach friends say (from Slovakia) that the balls have changed a lot in the last 20 years. They have become larger and heavier and as such slower. If that’s true, it also explains a lot, why the racquets go in certain direction.
    Bests,
    L.

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