Federer Confirms Racquet Change!

http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Roger-Federer-confirms-change-of-racket-articolo11456.html

Thanks to Florian for posting the above link. It’s official guys. Roger has a new racquet and it is indeed a 98 square inch head. That was my guess after I saw some more photos and it looks like he is using the Blade 98. It won’t be the exact same racquet of course because he would have it custom made. This has all been a bit surprising to me, and by that I mean Roger’s choice of racquet . First of all I didn’t expect him to increase his racquet head size by as much as he did, and second I didn’t expect him to to switch to a different model. He always played with the Pro Staff and now he is switching to the Blade. There is a post by Jonathan called The Many Racquets of Roger Federer where you can see all the racquets Roger have played with. As you can see there he started out with a 85 sq in head and then made a big increase to a 95 sq in head.

After that he went back to the 90 sq in head and that is where he stayed until now with very minor variations is the specifications for every new model. So it’s actually not the many different racquets of Roger Federer. It’s more like the three different racquets of Roger Federer. Roger has in effect played with the same racquet for ten years. A long time. And now he is making a bigger change than ever. At least when he changed the first time he was still using a Pro Staff, even though he was making a 10 sq in jump in racquet head size. But this time he is using an entirely different frame. None of this matter very much though because it is still a Wilson racquet and like I said in my post Should Federer Reinvent Himself in 2014?, Roger can easily adapt to another racquet because he is talented and thus adaptable.

I’m already excited about this change. Potentially Roger could have made this change earlier, but he won a slam just a year ago and had a great year in 2012, and there is no need to change something that works. I am however excited that he is making the change now, instead of at the start of 2014 like I suggested before. The second round loss at Wimbledon was obviously a turning point. It’s the first time in 37 slams that Roger lost before the quarter finals of a slam, so if there was any time to make a big change it would be now. I don’t belief in ‘what ifs’ anyway. I think everything happens for a reason and exactly the way it should. As far as the racquet goes the bigger head will give Roger more power but less feel and control. You have already had a good discussion about this. The bigger head makes volleying more difficult too.

As I remarked in my reinvention post as well, Roger is choosing a racquet that suits the times. Tennis has become a base line game with the racquet and string technology as well as the slow courts. So basically Roger is adapting to the times with this change. The feel and control that Roger will concede will be marginal anyway. It’s not like he is playing with an over sized head like Agassi did. The new racquet is actually for an all court game. I used to play with a 98 sq in Head Prestige myself and definitely there is not a big lack of control and feel. The control and feel you have have a lot to do with your string tension anyway, and Roger can just adjust that as he sees fit. At first I was surprised about the big change in racquet head size. As you will remember I suggested the 95 sq in BLX, and now Roger has gone to an even bigger head size and a different model as well.

But the more I think about this the more excited I get. Roger is adaptable after all, and if he is going to experiment he may as well do it properly. I think my post about Roger reinventing himself was timely, but Roger knows far better than me what is right for him. And he has chosen the perfect moment to make this change. It’s been a tough year for him and people have started writing him off. So there is no better time to make a change and mixed things up. It will be like a fresh start. Something that gets people talking and which can make him relevant again. Roger is smart. He is very much on top of things and always have been. This is just the kind of incentive he needs to start fresh and make a big impact again. Some of you have also said that he decided to play on clay because it is a good surface to make a change on and lay a foundation.

Good thinking by Roger as well as my readers. Roger will start his campaign at Hamburg tomorrow against Brands. I am working tomorrow and Thursday so I won’t be able to watch, but then I have off from Friday onward. So I hope Roger starts off well with his new racquet and makes the final at least so I can watch some tennis and blog this weekend. Looking forward!

Some videos of Roger training with his new racquet:

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21 Comments

  1. Hi ruan–thanks for the post. There’s also a lot being made about this racket and its effects on Fed’s single handed backhand. I just checked and most of the big players with single handed backhands (Almagro, Haas, Gasquet) all play with bigger head sizes and their backhands are in some ways more reliable than Fed’s. Do you think this might actually help his BH as well? And will it add more pop to his serve?

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    jason Reply:

    Great point, Sakhi! Larger heads will also imply a wider racket. This extra width will provide more access to topspins, which means there’s more clearance of the ball at the net. If we look closely, most of Roger’s BH errors are balls hitting the net or shanks. The former is caused by not enough topspin generated (not enough to clear the net). The latter is likely more complex, it can be due to:
    1. the lack of racket width (desire for more topspin but not enough width to create it)
    2. timing issues.
    Larger heads will help with all these.

    Here’s a good article on racket width and spins: http://www.racquetsportsindustry.com/articles/2006/01/the_inch_that_changed_tennis_f.html

    As for the serve, I’ll leave it to other posters that are of more knowledge.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Thanks Jason! Really appreciate you guys taking the time to share your knowledge with us. Ru-an, so glad you have the weekend off – nothing like having you watch Roger with us and being able to read about the matches soon after! I don’t think we can remember the last time we were so excited and nervous and just dying with anticipation for what we are about to witness very soon : the unveiling of Roger’s 95, oops! 98, guys, NINETY-EIGHT!!! Roger’s got talent and gifting and impeccable feel. He will come out blazing!! CAN’T wait!

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  2. Congratulations Ru-an’s army! Fed has won his first match with the new stick. Though he lost the first set, but came back strongly to take the next two in 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 and the match lasted less than 90 minutes. Live telecast is available only from the 18th of July. Come on Fed!

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    Veronica Reply:

    General Jiten! Nice battle. One down, four more to go! With this bigger stick, I might have a bit more courage to move closer to battle front! Hehe! Couldn’t watch, stream not working, I went nuts already last night! But I trust you guys’ assessment that Roger is working his stick all right!! Allez Roger forever!!

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    Jiten Reply:

    Thanks sis! Same here. The streams not working. Followed the scores on ATP site. Tennis TV is going to telecast it only from Thursday. I always have tennistv.com as my backup subscription in case the local broadcasters do not telecast it.

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  3. Hi Ruan,good post and even better prediction that Roger will change his racquet,good one there!I watched the match from the second set on and i was impressed to be honest.I was afraid new racquet will cause a problem but it was superb display,no miss hits or shanks,it was almost flawless.We all know that Roger has a magic hands and it looks like this new wand might actually bring big things.I was reading last few days that his backand wont be as good,dropshots etc.Well one dropshot he played was out of this world,Brands was there just could not get it at all.So im more than happy even though i was always happy with Roger.17+ and counting guys..happy days,just the quick post,enjoy tennis

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    Alex Reply:

    Like the positiveness. Good stuff!

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  4. Bright move!!!

    Leo’s are tough for changing things but Roger’s flexible enough to dispel the maxim

    His all court game is well equipped against these grinders out there these days

    New racquet is part of his weaponry in the process

    Roger v Murray Slams 3/1
    Roger v Djokovic Slams 6/5
    Roger v Nadal Slams outside of French 2/3

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  5. So, I watched spotty coverage of the match on youtube (tennis channel, as someone noted above, starts screening tomorrow), so it was hard to tell if Fed was playing well or not. Brands is a streaky player and hits big–also, Fed seems to still be finding his footwork which is to be expected at this stage. I did check the stats and noticed that he had many aces which always bodes well. The test will be if he can be CONSISTENTLY on the ball, rather than play one loose set and then catch up. IF you look at the matches Federer has lost, he has usually lost when he is playing from behind. So, here’s hoping that all these clay court matches will give Fed the consistent form he will need heading into the US Open. And one more small note: I had my racket restrung today at our local racket store in LA –and my stringer- who used to string for Pete Sampras (or at least that’s what he claims!) – said that he watched Fed play at Indian Wells and thought that he was experimenting with a 93″ racket even then. He claims that he could tell because the W of the Wilson logo on the racket seemed much smaller, and as a stringer he uses that to guess the size of the racket. The paint job may have been the same, but apparently the racket may have been a teensy weensy bit bigger. All this could just be BS, but thought I’d pass it along anyway for the Fed-fanatics!
    Looking forward to better coverage on Tennis channel tomorrow.

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  6. This change confirms that Roger will continue to fight at the top and won’t retire until he makes sure that his incredible records, including the number of GS, can not be achieved or passed by any other player during his lifetime and possibly never. Everyone at the top is looking for the magic number 17, I don’t think Nadal can get to this prime number until he retires, his knees are worse than mine :- ), Djoko needs to win 2 GS per year for the next 6 years to pass 17, almost impossible with Sir Andy around, the other guys are out of equation. I am very excited about this change and hopefully it will help Roger a lot (Sampras refused to change his racket and he declared he did a mistake).

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  7. Yes, Michael, what I really like about Roger is he risks and puts himself out there (when he doesn’t need to and can smugly retire with his millions and his reputation intact) to be continually criticised and battered as he fights at the top. He just loves to dominate and be no. 1. He will not go down lamely, he is not enjoying his no. 5/6 ranking, you bet, although he is calm and strong about it. I’m really excited that Roger continues to bring new things and keeps us fans excited. In a way, it is good that Roger is slow to bring about changes; because it becomes more meaningful when things are slower and harder to come by and we appreciate it more. Little by little Roger allows us to experience and share his incredible journey; the pain and the glory of it all. Anyone who follows Roger closely cannot not be touched by how he bounces back again and again despite the put downs and despite his own shortcomings. Btw, Roger is at no. 8 for most powerful celebrity according to Forbes!! And no. 1 for most powerful athlete!!

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  8. Hey TRUE Roger fans, I don’t know about all you guys and girls, but I am so excited for the things to come. And all because of one stubborn but perfect and SO for me, guy, the Goat Roger !!!

    I want to share a comment I wrote on Jonathan’s site about all of this and what I think will happen.
    You know it is me, so it is a long comment and of course all about my hero, who I just cannot get enough of !!!

    Please read it, especially about the comment about Pete and about a possibility for a upcoming “Roger-Slam”!!!
    And although I am not going to get my hopes up for the rest of the year (because I do think it will take time to get use to a bigger racket after 10 years), I really believe Roger will be gunning in 2014 for one more time world number one, and also for atleast two Wimby’s, one USO, one or two AO and maybe one RG !!!

    Hi guys and girls, I have something to say….
    You know, I am in my “Roger mood”, so please pay attention to what I write (even if it is nonsense) !!!

    I am so proud of Roger. He is indeed a very very stubborn man, but also a ‘slow yet quick learner’.
    He did not want to play with a bigger racket. In his mind, why should he? He won 17 GS and 77 titles without a bigger racket, so why should he?? Personally I don’t know if I agree. On one hand I think he should have started practising and playing with a bigger racket at the beginning of 2011 when he was losing a lot, but on the other hand he should not have, because with his smaller racket he did started winning at the end of 2011 and eventually had 2012 and went even back for four months to world number one !!!

    But I do think he should have started practising (or playing with both the smaller and bigger rackets) in 2013 when he started to lose a lot.
    But the reason why I am so proud of this stubborn man is that since his losses in 2013 everybody (yes, including fans) started to write him off. Which became worse after his RG and Wimby defeat.
    They even thought he was doing a farewell tour.
    But… Roger is showing what he has always said himself, that he is a student of the game and that he wants to learn and improve. And that he is not too old to learn. The Wimby loss was indeed a wake up call (hopefully with the same effect as USO 2011).
    He really learned that although he has played good in 2013, others are better. And to beat them, he has no choice than to use a bigger racket. I am so impressed and relieved. Finally, he has seen it himself and he is willing to change something. And what better way to start at these tours than right away at a 1000 tour of USO.

    I think this will be good for him. But to be honest, I don’t have a good feeling about 2013. I cannot see him win a lot or USO. OF COURSE I WOULD LOVE TO BE WRONG !!!
    But I think he will use 2013 from now on to get better and used to a bigger racket with weight(?).
    And 2014 he will rock. I really think so. He might do well in 2013, but 2014 will be Roger (accustimed to the bigger racket) and going one more time for world number one.

    And people…. I am not crazy, I am not insane, I have never done something stupid (yes, I know, I am VERY boring !!!), and I am sober always and now…. but I think we will be talking (before his retirement) of a
    “Roger-Slam” (or the possibility, like the almost Serena-Slam or the almost Novak-Slam) !!!

    Mark my words people, Roger finally (yes finally) got the wake up call that HE needs to change.
    And you know, the man is still not talking about retirement, so I can see him not only winning a lot, but also playing till his fourties.

    You know why I am thinking this?? In a week time I have watched four times the Wimby Final 2012 from the second set 5-5 till the end ceremony.
    Roger before the second set 5-5 was outplayed by Andy, beeing jerked around by Andy, beeing seriously bossed around by the unbeatable Andy.
    Until second set 5-5 till the end. That was the Roger show. Goat. Magician. Unplayable Roger, where even during the longest game (that Roger broke) I felt sorry for Andy.

    Now that is Roger with his usual racket. Now he has a bigger one. Don’t know what will happen in 2013, I am to be honest not that hopefull, but 2014 will rock. Roger with a bigger racket.
    (Of course untill the other ones decide to play with a 115 racket or something, but lets not go there… yet).

    I also think Roger has listened very good to his hero Pete when he said he wished he used a bigger racket at the end of his career.

    You know guys… I am writing all of this and Roger has not even played his match today.
    Would I not look a fool writing all this and Roger losing today???

    Come on Roger, don’t make me look like a fool. You finally changed something (even somthing as small as your racket). So hope for good times with Roger and a bigger racket.

    I know long comment, but hey, it is me you know….

    Ps: Don’t laugh about the possibility of a “Roger-Slam”. Could happen you know !!!

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  9. Finally watched the match in real time and on tennis channel. Fed is definitely hitting with more zip, but he appeared to be still figuring out the power of the racket. His shanks were exaggerated, not gone, but he was definitely hitting his backhand better. He made some horrendous unforced errors on his forehand though and am hoping those will come down. I also found him sort of a lurching towards the ball on some easy forehands. IS this normal when you are switching rackets? I played varsity squash before I switched to tennis 10 years ago, but I do know that the biggest challenge for me when I switched brands on my squash racket was getting used to the slightly different preparation and swing time on the racket –all of it which had to do with varying my footwork slightly. I’m excited to see Fed experimenting and he played very aggressively today. So, who cares if he shanks and misses, as long as he plays like a man who is enjoying himself and ready to win some good matches!

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Sakhi, nice and true comment, but I think we also have to realise this is only his second match (after some practise) with a bigger racket. He played like more than 10 years with a smaller one. So he needs a little bit more time. But so smart of him and the team not to play with the bigger racket at the 1000 tour in August, but to “practise” it first with these two smaller tours. Roger and his team are really the goats of reinventing themselves after a (big) loss.
    So keep faith, he will work it out before USO.

    And to be honest, these two small tours have dangerous players !!! At the hard court in Bogota Tipsy is the number one seed (and he is not even in the top 10) !!! Of course, all the other big players are practising or playing in the tour Roger has entered….

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  10. I’ve watched full replay of that bizarre match against stakhovsky and found Roger was bit late to react to every ball, a bit sluggish. However, on US hard courts the game would be completely different and Roger can tune the baseline game part by playing fast clay courts, so it was a great decision to add Humburg and Gstaad.
    With new 98sq” racquet, there’s immediate dividend on his serve and return of serves. At the same time, there was some overhit forehands, problem with volleys from Roger and also couldn’t freely hit whipping backhands. But come US open time, all should be working properly.

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