Hamburg Draw and Federer has a New Racquet?

http://www.atpworldtour.com/posting/2013/414/mds.pdf

Hi guys. Been a while. I hope you are all doing well and looking forward to Hamburg. As far as the draw goes it’s not exactly easy for Roger but it’s not exactly difficult either. He has a bye in the first round and then he plays the winner of Lorenzi and Brands. Brands is the guy who gave Nadal a tough match at the French and Lorenzi has taken a set off Nadal on clay as well if I remember correctly. Roger has played neither of them. Then if Roger wins it looks like he will face Gulbis who could be a real test. If he gets past Gulbis things may get slightly easier, as he will play Lopez or Dolgopolov probably. In the semis he will probably face either Janowicz, Verdasco, or Robredo. Those are all potentially tough opponents. Janowicz just made Wimbledon semis, Verdasco made Wimbledon quarters, and Robredo made French Open quarters.

Definitely no lack of good players in that section of the draw. In the final Roger could face just about anyone, but Haas is the second seed. If Roger is to win his second title of the year in Hamburg it won’t be because he faced a bunch of bums. That said, Roger usually bounces back very well from disappointment and I am excited about the rest of the year. I said the second part of the year will be a new beginning for Roger, and it started well in Halle. Losing in the second round of Wimbledon was of course a setback, but I think it will motivate him even more to do big things for the rest of the season. I think Roger’s loss at Wimbledon has been blown out of proportion. Stakhovsky was in the zone like Rosol was the year before against Nadal. How long could Roger hold off those kind of performances anyway?

He did so countless times in the past, and he was bound to lose one eventually. That doesn’t mean his career is over all of a sudden and that he should retire. Fans are really fickle things and they don’t know what they are talking about. I think Roger is very motivated right now and wants to prove a few things. He also wants to use his early loss at Wimbledon as an opportunity to win some more titles. He has only one title so far this year and he will have good chances at both Hamburg and Gstaad for more titles. It will also help him gain some valuable ranking points. Hopefully he can win Hamburg and Gstaad and go to Montreal and Cincy with loads of confidence and possibly pick up another title. That would be the ideal scenario and put him in great shape for the US Open. I don’t want to think that everything is about the US Open though.

I don’t expect Roger to win the US Open, but having seen the way he has come back from adversity in the past I wouldn’t be surprised if he does. That would be the best thing that could ever happen as far as I’m concerned. Winning the US Open just two months after he lost in the second round of Wimbledon would shatter all the critics, including some of his own fans. It would be sweeter than winning Wimbledon last year even. But I am not gonna spend much time thinking about that possibility right now. There is a long way to go and we will see how he fares in the next few events first. It is not all about the US Open anyway. There is still the indoor season where Roger always shines. I just like the fact that Roger is still fresh and I’m sure he will add some more events to his schedule towards the end of the year as well.

I can see him adding two more events. Either Beijing or Tokyo before he plays Shanghai, or Stockholm again. And then I’m sure he will play Paris again. A lot will depend on what happens at the US Open. If he makes a deep run there it will take a physical toll. But I am very excited for the rest of the year. And now there may be another exciting development. In my post ‘Should Federer Reinvent Himself in 2014?‘ I suggested that Roger should try a racquet with a bigger head, and today on Facebook he posted a picture of himself training in Hamburg with what looked to be a different racquet! Wilson has not come out with a new model of his racquet as far as I’m aware, so I doubt it’s just a paint job. He may well have changed his racquet and switched to a bigger head. We will have to see, but it would be pretty ironic if just a couple of weeks after I made a post about it he changed his racquet.

Maybe he reads my blog? He said before that he wanted to experiment with equipment though and that he couldn’t find the time. Maybe since he lost early at Wimbledon he had some time and thought that loss called for a change. I hope it is the case. It will just change things up a bit and be another new beginning. If things don’t work out it is always good to make a new beginning. It can be risky, but if you are losing anyway then there isn’t much to lose. Here’s to another new beginning!

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29 Comments

  1. An article from Bleacher Report also discusses this new racket. It seems he has heard you mystically, Ru-an.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1702842-is-roger-federer-going-back-to-drawing-board-on-clay-in-hamburg-and-gstaad

    “… Federer seems to be experimenting with a racket change.

    For years, Federer has been criticized by armchair pundits for his decision to stick with his small racket head. But, if the pictures that surfaced Sunday from his practice session at Hamburg are any indication, he has finally decided to transition to a larger frame.

    This is a big change for a player to make at 31 years old, but it should give Federer a much bigger sweet spot to work with—a frightening thought for his opponents.”

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Funny you should use the word ‘mystical’ Jason, I always felt I had a mystical connection with Roger. I like that word. I also like the words ‘a frightening thought for his opponents’…

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  2. Love your blog Ru-an!
    Really you could have done a superb job if u were in Roger’s staff :-)
    I have read this blog from a long time but just joined this blog and must say I m very happy to be a part of this privileged group of Roger Federer supporters :-)
    Kudos to u Ru-an :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you Hari I appreciate that. Having a large amount of blog followers is not the priority for me. A group of intelligent and true fans is what I’m looking for. You just have to look at the reaction of some of Roger’s so-called fans after his Wimbledon loss to know that a large amount of fans is overrated. Quality is more important than quantity.

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  3. You must be proud of the reinvention blog post Ru-an. Most forward piece of tennis writing I’ve seen this year. If indeed Roger has increased the square inches on his new racket, it’s a happy coincidence. Or maybe someone in his support group/wilson player management exec., actually read it and fastracked the proposal for a new improved racket. All will be revealed,it is expected,in time.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Grumpy I like and appreciated your comments.

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  4. Now that it is revealed he (most likely) changed his racket, his decision to play Gstaad and Washington makes a lot more sense. Clay is generally the first training ground most top players started with, although it won’t necessarily be their future best courts. We can see this in Roger, Murray, Djokovic, Nadal, perhaps even DelPo.

    Perhaps this is because of its slow characteristics. In this way, the effects of a change in gameplan, a type of shot, etc can be observed more carefully (slow motion version to other courts, so to speak). Every aspect of a player’s game can be scrutinized more.

    This ‘re-invention’ thing is sort of like going to back to a player’s starting point…and clay was indeed Roger’s starting point back when he was a kid. I’d say this makes a lot of sense!

    Now, this may indeed cost the US Open to Roger. But the way I see it, he has nothing to lose. If he sticks with what he has right now, he won’t win the US Open either. If not some big hitter, Djokovic or Murray would very likely beat him a la AO 2013 Murray. Let’s just hope he adapts quickly and who knows, perhaps he might win USO with this new racket. That’ll be peRFect re-invention!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Jason. Clay is slower and there is longer rallies and more footwork involved. It would be the best place to make a new beginning with a new racquet.

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    jason Reply:

    Thanks for the kind words, Ru-an. So from the discussions below, it seems he moved to 98 from 90. 98 is what Murray currently uses.

    I’m actually a bit concerned in the way that it will sap more energy. Roger is in no way as physically strong as Murray. I’m worried about his staying power if the match goes on to 4th or 5th set. It’s also been shown that once he encounters a long match in GS, he gets defeated in the subsequent match.

    But again, he most likely have considered this factor as he has a group of experts. Hope everything will be fine.

    By the way, there is another rather insightful (yet a bit harsh to Roger) article on racket changes…it explained how certain top players career ended due to their stubbornness not to change. Sampras is among these players. Borg is another, in the way that he had a failed comeback.
    http://msn.foxsports.com/tennis/story/roger-federer-shows-his-age-stubbornness-to-use-modern-racket-in-stunning-loss-at-wimbledon-sergiy-stakhovsky-062613

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  5. Ru-an,

    I don’t think that this is just a coincidence. In my personal opinion either Riger read your blog or someone relayed the message to him. It makes sense.

    Roger is a stubborn individual and he rarely changes equipment but obviously something needs to change. I believe that this might actually pay off. We’ll find out soon enough.. :-) )

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well Roger has thought about experimenting before and I guess the Wimbledon loss kind of created the urgency in him to make a change.

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  6. Sneaky old dog, eh, Roger!!! NOW, It all makes sense, doesn’t it?!! I’m 100% sure now that he is using a new racket because WHY clay when HC is next?! I don’t think he has ever “back-tracked” in surfaces in his career but has always moved along with the surface changes. But it looks like he is starting anew with something new on a more forgiving surface. And that picture was deliberately badly taken or what?!(to keep us guessing) and the racket is at an angle and not completely in the picture. It all looks just too suspicious, too contrived, folks!! Roger loves surprises,(Wimby jacket this year) jokes (Captain Wasabi!). He wants to give us fans some fun and something to talk about! I love that he is secretive, yet not completely so, and sort of teasing us!! If a new racket is really in the agenda, then all power to Roger and may he adapt asap and it would be such exciting times ahead!! (although it could also mean a difficult transition time ahead) Ru-an, wonderful post. Always feels good and uplifted reading your take on things. Difficult draw, quality players, I’m so nervous already!! Well, if the new racket happens, I would just believe that Roger has heard you through this blog, Ru-an!! Hehe!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol. It does make sense doesn’t it Mirka? You have a big imagination btw. Are you J.K. Rowling by any chance? :-P

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    Veronica Reply:

    Yeah, Mirka has too much imagination……now, if only half of her imagination can come true…(sigh) hehe!! Roger, btw, maybe having a bit too much imagination at the moment, don’t you think?!… What a gigantic racket!!! He’s getting a little ahead of himself, eh, Ru-an?!! Meanwhile, I’m getting ahead of myself too, but if the racket change is a success, (and Roger tweaks other aspects of his game as well), we might be at the threshold of another great Roger Federer era which begins at the ripe old age of 31!!! It’s great to be able to just dream sometimes, eh, Ru-an?!!!

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  7. Hi there:

    Here’s a youtube video of Fed practicing in Hamburg:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvZJZGlDsaQ

    the racket head size definitely looks bigger. I would have originally thought he’s go for the blade 93 –slower transition –but this looks like a blade 95 or 98 (custom made am sure, so could be in between). I can’t tell what difference it will make till we watch him play. Brands is a big hitter of the ball, so this will indeed be a good test on Wednesday. He looks relaxed and fit!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Very interesting Sakhi. It does look like a pretty big head. May be 98 even which would be a big change. I would have thought he will try out 95.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Oh.My.Gosh! That is HUGE!!!!! It’s gonna break his “fragile” arms already!! Thanks Sakhi!

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    jason Reply:

    Contrary to popular perception, larger head rackets are generally lighter than smaller heads. This is why most amateur players use oversized heads, such as 105, 110 or above: it gives them power and it’s lighter. The obvious advantage is that it gives larger sweetspot and more power in each stroke. We should expect less shanks and more consistent groundstrokes for Roger.

    Having said that, there are some drawbacks with larger heads: netplay becomes harder and single-handed BH players find it more difficult to adjust.

    But for the sake of comparison, other top players generally use large heads: Djokovic with 100, Murray 98, Nadal 100, Berdych 100.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Thanks Jason! That was most informative. Really appreciate it!

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  8. It’s a good sign that he’s trying something new.

    Perhaps in the next interview he will be asked to confirm whether he is really testing a new racket or not. But if he is, it will take a while to adjust. After all, he’s played with the same racket for at least a decade. His muscle memory is calibrated for that racket and shots will feel noticeably different coming off the new one. Some shots will be tougher to pull off, others easier and he will have to get that sorted out.

    He will have to adjust all parts of his game, footwork and shot selection.

    Changing racket size also affects his serving, and on hard courts good serving is very important so he will have to iron that out very quickly.

    A bigger face means more power but finesse shots become tougher, he will have less “feel” on the ball. Volleying with precision becomes more difficult.

    But hopefully his hand-eye coordination is sufficiently good to compensate for that deficiency. Fingers crossed that he can figure it out.

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  9. Thanks for all the comments, all you technical experts here in Ru-an’s Federer blog! You’ve got me really excited and at the same time……a little worried too!! From 90 to 98, that’s a dramatic jump! But I’m sure Roger and team know what they are doing. Praying Roger will adjust really fast and well. Steve, I’m keeping my fingers crossed as well;…… right until USO!!!!!

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    steve Reply:

    You and me both, Veronica! It’s been a long time since I was so anxious about Federer’s game. Hopefully he still has a couple more tricks up his sleeve this year.

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    jason Reply:

    I have some kind of silly hope, Steve. Hopefully it will prove not too silly: I hope this change brings about performance rise in the order of Djokovic’s “gluten-free diet” or Murray’s “fitness regimes”.

    In terms of game, netplay will definitely become harder. But Roger is already exceedingly adept at it. He may be able to cope with some performance decline in this aspect and (over)compensate it with other parts of his game. Adjusting racket head sizes is particularly hard for single-handed BH.

    But the thing with Roger is when he’s not playing well, his BH errors more often find the net (rather than going out) unless of course, he shanks. Larger head will enable him to impart more topspin, hence less BH finding the net…and reduce shanks. So, hopefully the change is a net positive for the BH, too.
    What we don’t know yet is how it affects his serve. Serve is one of the most, if not THE most, important part of his game. All other aspects of his game follow his serve. We just have to cross out fingers that this change will bring at least a neutral effect, if not positive, to his serve.

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  10. I think some serious thinking has been done by roger for rest of his career…what to do . N what not to do ? after all he has been stubborn all these years…Ruan what do u think? specially his backhand, won’t be easy…

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  11. The king has something which is called talent. If sb can adjust to 98 inch raquet at age 32 it will be Roger. Great move. Great idea to test this raquet at some minor tournaments, especially on clay where you have to play longer exchanges to win a point.
    As Ruans correctly wrote he had nothing to lose. For another GS title he needed to change something. He got to cut down those errors.

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  12. Please Ru-an, read this comment of mine.
    I read this article again and WOW !!!
    Who are you Ru-an?? How come you know exactly what to say and how to say it??
    Every sentence, seriously every sentence is so true and kind of exactly what I am thinking.
    Are you sure you are not Roger’s personal coach or something? How can you be THIS spot on?
    They say I am his most passionate fan, but really
    Ru-an, that is not me, but YOU.
    Every sentence you wrote….
    Just like Rosol was in the zone last year, Sergiy was in the zone this year. Same as Berdych was when he defeated Novak in I think Rome when Novak was up one set and 5-1 in the second.
    When people are in such kind of a zone, you cannot defeat them. Whether you are the Greatest player of all time, the Greatest claycourt specialist of all time or the reining number one for almost three years. You cannot defeat someone who is in the zone. Period.
    And don’t even get me started about the critics and fans and their quest AGAIN for Roger’s retirement.
    Like Roger said, his fans will be oke, because he will be oke.
    And you know Ru-an, I am glad that streak ended. Now he can play freely and win more. Afterall he did make 9 out of 12 SF when his SF-streak ended.
    And you know me Ru-an, “Destiny”-girl.
    I wrote before there is a reason Roger lost so quick at Wimby. Maybe he is destined to win something else big this year (and maybe Wimby next year).
    Some fan also said that last year Roger won Wimby and Andy won USO, maybe this year it will be the other way around. So hope so.
    Maybe he was destined to lose so quick at Wimby to get more time for practising with a bigger racket.
    Great things are destined for Roger.

    And seriously Ru-an, I am SO becoming a diehard fan of your articles !!!

    Katyani

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