Thanks to fellow tennis nerd Sebastian, the question mark around Naomi Osaka’s strings was solved.
Sebastian sent me a direct message on Instagram with a zoomed-in photo of Naomi Osaka’s strings. I had previously re-posted and featured this exact picture, but stupidly, I had not zoomed in to check the writing on the strings. Thanks to today’s high-res captures from modern smartphones, we can get a real close-up onto pro player racquets and strings. Sometimes it’s the racquet mold, the logo on the butt cap or the text on the strings.
In this case, it’s clear that Naomi Osaka uses Babolat VS Touch natural gut as a cross string to her Yonex Poly Tour Strike (blue).
In my previous video, I was speculating about her using Rexis as a softer string. It’s a good multifilament, but considering how wealthy and picky top pros are, there is no real reason not to go for a natural gut string like Babolat VS Touch. It offers better feel and tension maintenance than any multifilament on the market. But there are good multifilament strings out there, don’t get me wrong, but in most cases they can’t compete in a hybrid setup against natural gut.
I wrote about Osaka’s racquet here, but it’s obvious that her string setup has changed. She is not alone in testing hybrid setups after using a full bed of polyester. Tsitsipas recently also experimented with hybrid setups instead of his Luxilon 4G setup.
A hybrid setup will provide a softer feel and more power. Many pros use hybrids. Novak, Roger and Andy all use hybrid setups with natural gut so it’s a tried and tested approach. The issue for most club players is the price of the natural gut, but on the other hand it holds tension better than all other strings so perhaps the price is not that expensive after all…
Have you tried a hybrid setup with natural gut?