Playing great tennis at the international level isn’t just about a player’s skill level. It depends on other factors like discipline, mental strength, physical fitness, diet and oh… having the right equipment, like rackets and shoes.
At the highest levels of the sport, it’s imperative to have a racket that matches your playing level and style. And players have to make the choice of racket by criteria such as head size, weight, durability, ball control, responsiveness, and power.
So, here are the rackets that some of the world’s best active tennis players use in 2017…
# Roger Federer (Wilson ProStaff RF97 2nd gen)
Head Size: 97 sq. in. / 625.81 sq. cm.
Length: 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight: 12.6oz / 357.2g
Balance: 12.38in / 31.45cm / 9 pts HL
Beam Width: 21.5mm / 21.5mm / 21.5mm /
Composition: Braided Kevlar & Graphite / Basalt Fibers
Power Level: Low
At the top levels of the game, players who are designing an autograph model will often experiment with prototype rackets where the graphics haven’t been finalized. In all of these instances, players will often play with rackets called “blackouts” that feature a matte black finish and little else in the way of graphics. Although the finish is meant to be utilitarian, they’re actually quite attractive because they look stealthy and slick.
Roger Federer, who has spent years developing various rackets for Wilson, has seen plenty of these blackout frames. And in developing graphics for the latest generation of the Pro Staff 97 RF racket over the last 18 months, Federer has decided that sometimes less is more.
“The new Federer Autograph features minimalist black on black graphic–reminiscent of a tuxedo. I was pushing [Wilson] to be more confident, and almost put nothing on the racket. Wilson is such an established brand, it speaks for itself. The story of the racket is very close to me. This one was already very personal because it was the first [Wilson] autographed racket since Jack Kramer. To move now to a racket that’s never been done before is very special to me.”, said the great One of tennis.
The larger than before head size (97 sq. inches compared to 90 sq. inches) allows Federer to generate easy power and offers greater control by absorbing the pace when returning powerful strokes from the other side of the net.
# Novak Djokovic (HEAD GRAPHENE XT SPEED PRO)
Head Size: 100 sq. in. / 645.16 sq. cm.
Length: 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight: 11.7oz / 331.69g
Balance: 12.6in / 32cm / 7 pts HL
Beam Width: 22.5mm / 22.5mm / 22.5mm /
Composition: Graphene XT
Power Level: Low
Endorsed by Novak Djokovic, this update to the Graphene Speed Pro is ideal for both strong intermediates and advanced players. Like the previous version, this is a maneuverable player’s racket with an impressive level of stability for its sub 12 ounce weight.
The tight 18×20 string pattern will give big hitters the needed control to take huge cuts at the ball. New to this version is the next generation of graphene, called Graphene XT, which allows for an even more optimal redistribution of weight to the handle and tip. The result is a racket that swings very smoothly and offers slightly easier access to power than the prior version.
From the baseline this racket’s ultra predictable response supplies confidence on full swings, and the speedy feel makes it easy to ratchet up the pace and spin.
# Rafael Nadal (Babolat Aeropro Drive)
Babolat aeropro drive 2005 (4 1/4) painted in Pure Aero Play
-14g lead: 9g at 12 and 5g in handle
– Babolat Custom Damp
– Balance Unstrung: around 325 mm
– Balance Strung: around 335 mm
– String: Babolat RPM blast 1.35
– Racket weight Unstrung: Around 318.5g (300 + 14 + 4.5 for the OG)
– Racket weight Strung : Around 337-340g ( 318.5 + 3.5g for the Damp + String)
Rafael Nadal is currently playing with the racket he has used since the start of the 2004 season, the original Babolat Aeropro Drive (which he switched to from the Babolat Pure Drive at the end of the 2003 season). Although that model has gone through many iterations in intervening years, with new versions released every 2 years or so, Nadal has not used any of the updates, preferring to stick with his original 2003 version (that doesn’t feature the cortex technology of all the subsequent versions) with cosmetics disguised to look like whichever model was currently on sale at the time.
In the spring of 2015, Nadal briefly tested and played with a prototype of next year’s (2016’s) version of the racquet, which will be called the Babolat Pure Aero, but quickly went back to his trusted 2003 Aeropro Drive. The Pure Aero features a slightly different cross section and string hole drill pattern, as well as a few structural tweaks, which were designed to increase spin, but which Nadal felt robbed him of control.
# Stan Wawrinka: (Yonex Vcore 95D)
Racket: Yonex vcore 95D
Paint Job: yonex vcore tour G (330)
Headsize: 95 Sq Inches
Weight: strung: 372 grams (with overgrip)
Balance: 32.1 OR 32.3
Lead placement: 3 & 9 O’clock
Leads length: 5 inch
Grip: 4 3/8
Replacement grip: Yonex leather
Strings: Babolat RPM Blast 16g
String Pattern: 16×20
Tension: 27 KG(61 pounds) /25 kg (57 pounds)
Stan’s racket is fine tuned for power by compromising on a small level of control and spin. The stiff poly high string tension and racquet weight combination requires some serious upper body and arm/ wrist strength. Fortunately for Stan, he has vast reserves of both.
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