Roger Federer is getting old (almost 32), which isn’t really old at all. But in tennis, he’s considered an old man playing with a bunch of kids. Although he won his 17th career grand slam Wimbledon only a year ago, word on the street is that his career will be over very soon. But again, he just won Wimbledon a year ago so I think he’s still got some game left to make a few good runs. But I do agree that he is on the decline. Even more importantly, I think Federer feels the same way. After being ousted in the second round of Wimbledon this year by a guy who wasn’t even ranked inside the top 100 (ouch!), Federer has decided to keep up with the times. Drum roll…he is moving up in racket size to a 98inch head.
This is a big move for Federer and quite the risky one too. He’s spent his entire career with a 90inch head sized racket, and any tennis player knows it’s hard to change from something that has worked so well over the years. By trying out new rackets, you run the risk of throwing your game off because you’re dealing with rackets that have different weights, swing weights, head sizes, string pattern, etc. For a real tennis player, switching to a new racket isn’t as easy as picking it up, hitting a few balls with it and saying, “Yup, I want this one.” Instead, it takes time to adjust to how each racket plays and whether it is the right one, and this is troublesome for a player who is nearing the end of his career and feels the need to change something fast. Federer can always go back to his old racket, that’s true. But even that will take some readjustment time. Furthermore, when you start messing around with different rackets, you lose your rhythm. Possibly the most important aspect of tennis is making sure you can keep your rhythm. Once you jeopardize your rhythm, you jeopardize you’re entire game. So when it comes to tennis rackets, this is why players stick to the old adage, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.”
Here is a quote from the man himself, provided by FedererFan07, “So far, I’m happy with this change. But I need many hours on the court to see if this is a good decision. I haven’t yet taken the decision on whether to use it in the US (he begins his pre-US Open campaign in a fortnight at the Montreal Masters). I still need to think it over.”
He added, “There are players who have experienced problems when they changed racquets, Fernando Verdasco and to some extent Novak Djokovic.”
Federer’s motive to change rackets: Tennis racket technology has evolved over the past ten years (and it will keep evolving). Rackets are more advanced now and have bigger head sizes, which allow players to hit with greater power and greater rotation on the ball (spin). With Federer’s current frame, the sweet spot is much smaller than his peers, meaning he has a very large margin for error each time he strikes the ball. He has witnessed how the game has changed over the past ten years due to improved frames; more baseline rallies with groundbreaking topspin forehands. So now he’s decided to keep up with the times. The result so far? He’s already lost to another person outside of the top 100. While the future doesn’t look bright for him now, I believe he will adapt to his new frame in time for the U.S. Open. So contrary to what many believe, his fight is not over.
To quote one of my favorite manga characters, “The victor is the one who looks to the future. The real battle is about to begin.” And so the same can be said for Federer, the real test is if he can stand toe-to-toe at the age of 32 with the likes of Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray on the tennis world’s biggest stage in August. My opinion? Yes, he can. By changing rackets he is now taking the necessary steps to prepare himself for his next major battle at the U.S. Open. He’s not the kind to fold so easily.
Here is a video of Federer training with his new racket:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SBLj6S3zsg