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: