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Daily Bagel: Taking a closer look at Roger Federer’s new racket

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The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Video: Get to know 19-year old Canadian Genie Bouchard.

• Examining Roger Federer’s new prototype racket, about which, Tom Perrotta writes, “For the super-polished, near-perfect winner of a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, this is as close to a midlife crisis as it gets.”

Federer hasn’t divulged many details about the racket, other than that it is made by Wilson, his longtime racket sponsor, and has a 98-square-inch head, 8 inches larger than the Wilson Pro Staff he has played with since 2002. Federer is still testing the frame and hasn’t committed to playing with it full-time, and it might be modified further.

“It’s a prototype,” Federer told reporters at a tournament in Hamburg this week (he reached the semifinals with a victory Friday). “I’m happy I did the change and we’ll see how it goes. So far, so good.”

Jon Muir, the general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports, said the new racket is based on Federer’s requests and feedback from previous tests, and stressed that the process is far from over: Federer could still reject it, and the racket doesn’t even have a design or color scheme (like all test rackets, it is black, so the design doesn’t influence the tester’s perception). Muir said the racket is not a Wilson Blade 98, as some online gear gurus have guessed. It was made in Wilson’s Chicago lab.

“It’s not something we are currently producing and selling to customers,” Muir said.

• Douglas Perry on why it’s difficult to proclaim Serena Williams is the greatest ever. As he writes, being better than Venus meant more to her than being better than the rest.

Once she had defeated Venus in four straight major finals in 2002-03, she believed — consciously or not — that there were no more tennis mountains to climb. She was determined to be the best in the world, and that meant being better than Venus. Beating Henin or Clijsters or Davenport just wasn’t the same. It took her years to realize that sustained success on court could still matter in the post-Venus era that she had brought about.

Forced to sit and think while healing in 2011, Serena realized that the game will indeed go on without the Williams sisters. And, at the same time, that no matter what she does with the rest of her life, she will be remembered first and foremost for her tennis. And so she decided she would close her career by giving the sport her all.

• The first team for Hopman Cup has been announced: Marion Bartoli and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will represent France. Are we really confirming teams for Hopman Cup already? This year is just flying by.

• A good look at Foot Soldiers of Tennis on the new ATP event in Bogota, which replaced the tournament in Los Angeles. Attendance was poor.

• Richard Evans for 10sBalls.com ranks the fittest players in the history of tennis.

• Non-tennis: Sports on Earth looks at Rory McIlroy’s ability to laugh about his disastrous slump.

  • Published On Jul 22, 2013
  • 6 comments
    abigchocoholic
    abigchocoholic

    It's not the racket.  No chance. Federer the GOAT is on his way out because he lost a split second due to his age.  It really is that simple.  One step slower, one split second lax in anticipation, a few more off center hits--that's all it takes to go from #1 to #50.    And no racket can replace that.  He could probably remain in the top 100 for the next 2-4 years but we'll see if his ego will allow him to keep playing when he's no longer in the top 10. 



    Michael9
    Michael9

    Genie Bouchard seems intelligent, interesting, bubbly, personable, authentic and articulate -- also in the French language (see link). She's certainly an exciting and distinctive player the WTA needs for its future. We should not be prematurely judging her. We should not be forcing a young player to act the way we want her to act . She's a young tennis player doing a great job learning to deal with the media; she's not a professional actress. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPcWExAna88

    On her meeting Federer after winning Junior Wimbledon last year: "Yeah. The best part! I talked to Roger for like five minutes. We got a picture, me and Phillip (Peliwo), who won the boys. We just expected him to come up for the picture. And he’s like, ‘What’s next? What’s your pro ranking?’. He’s asking us what we’re doing. He said, ‘When I was 18, I was 300, too’. I’m thinking, that’s a sign! We talked about his twins, because I’m a twin. I told him ‘I love your twins. You dress them up the same.’. He says ’if you don’t dress them the same, they’re going to fight’. My mom used to do that to us. He is the nicest guy. Serena left the stage right away, but he stayed and talked to everyone."

    http://tinyurl.com/motsabk


    As for Federer's racquet switch, obviously Federer will go through a period of experimentation and adjustment during live tournaments as he learns to adapt to the significantly-larger racquet in the middle of the season. When players like Nadal and Djokovic change their racquets, it's to the same head size and done during the off season where they put in weeks or months of pre-tournament practice. With such a different racquet, Federer's shot options have changed, his shot making, rhythm, timing, precision, confidence have changed. He's thinking more about shots that he used to execute without thinking with the old racquet. He's holding back on many of his shots to cut down on errors. He'll probably need three to five more tournaments to get sufficiently comfortable with the racquet.

    Here's more from Nguyen's WSJ article : '  "If he can make this change, he is increasing his chances of winning another Grand Slam exponentially," said Roman Prokes, an expert racket technician who works with many top pros (Federer is not one of his clients)... There's also some risk, including less precision, Federer's trademark... Prokes tried for years to convince Pete Sampras, the former No. 1 and winner of 14 Grand Slam singles titles, to switch to a larger racket (Sampras' Wilson Pro Staff had an 85-square-inch head). Sampras now plays with a larger racket and has said he regrets that he didn't change when he was on the tour. "Change is not easy for anybody in life," Prokes said. "Sometimes you have to take a couple of steps back in order to take a couple of steps forward."... "Federer's racket is not forgiving," Prokes said. "You have to hit the ball absolutely perfect in the sweet spot all the time."... Especially if Prokes is right about a larger racket's long-term benefits. "I really 100% believe this will extend his tennis life for years," he said.'

    Party_Gator
    Party_Gator

    Is Genie Bouchard really that bland or are her handlers forcing her to be that way?

    Michael9
    Michael9

    @Party_Gator  Are you really that off base or are your handlers forcing you to write such things?