Federer Racquet – What A Racquet

by James A. Crabtree

Roger Federer playing in Hamburg

Roger Federer’s switch to a new racquet has made more news stories worldwide than a lunar landing. And so it should. When the world’s most successful assassin changes his most trusted weapon, this is big news.

Federer has made minor adjustments over the years, from the Pro Staff 85 6.0 he used in 2001 to defeat Sampras (the same racquet Sampras used). He then went to the Hyper Pro Staff which looked like a paint job of the previous.

If you painted your old Porsche and told everyone it was a new model would they believe you? Well, lets just assume your friends are gullible. And you would argue it is still a Porsche and should be driven with care. Both the Porsche and the Pro Staff are tough to handle.

By 2003 Federer was using a racquet with a 90 sq. inch frame and winning slams. This was the most dramatic adjustment and to many an observer the racquet has barely changed since. Just subtle paint jobs and a twinge on the marketing with a new name to keep mugs like myself trying to emulate our Swiss hero. The nCode range followed, then the nSix-One Tour 90, K Factor Six One Tour, Six.One Tour BLX and up until Wimbledon 2013 the BLX Pro Staff Six.One.

This is a tough racquet to play with. It may also be the least friendly racquet for your regular club player, as it doesn’t allow for errors. It’s a pure players racquet for Samurai’s who have mastered the craft.

So is it the same old Pro Staff that has been around for Eon’s. Well it is and it isn’t. The racquet has been moulded and adjusted to fit the player, rather than the other way around. Federer has made detailed and minute changes to his racquet and although it may look like the one in the shops it would feel and play totally different. The model, which has the same shape and hard edges would vary in weight, balance, swing weight, composite material, grip and strings whether you chose the version played by Sampras, Edberg, Courier or Federer. Regardless, it can still account for 41 slams.

Irrespective of the intricacies the Pro Staff, a racquet initially designed for Jimmy Connors, is now gone. The replacement looks like the Blade that Monfils has been using, but is now suspected to be a prototype. Whatever racquet it is, the switch has laid to rest the most successful racquet in grand slam men’s tennis history.

Usually when players change racquets it is for money, such as Djokovic to Head or more recently Wawrinka and Tomic to Yonex. When players switch model within the same company more often than not it is a paint job. Federer’s latest racquet is definitely more than just a façade.

Federer lost one surprise match at Wimbledon and it’s not unreasonable to think he has overreacted. He has had a horrid year thus far, with only one tournament win and no victories over a top 10 player. On top of this his confidence has taken a hit. He has dropped in the rankings, and showed inconsistency with his various game plans. Is a new racquet just a desperate shot in the dark to find form, or another experiment that could plummet his woes further?

Is Federer learning from Pete Sampras, who never changed his racquet throughout his career but suggested perhaps he should have. Or is coach Paul Annacone in his ear, having been there at the end of both the careers of Sampras and Henman.

Federer has stated he is happy with the new racquet, and the greater sq. inches it provides should add a little more power and help with the various shanks we have become accustomed to seeing. The new racquet hasn’t yet experienced a loss or been put up against a considerable opponent. His arm may have been tested, but not his ability to deal with the underlying psychological aspects it will undoubtedly present.

Maria Sharapova Named Porsche Brand Ambassador

STUTTGART (April 22,2013)  Tennis megastar Maria Sharapova has taken on a new role: Effective immediately, the 26-year-old world class player will be representing the sports car manufacturer, Porsche AG, as brand ambassador. The cooperation is initially signed for three years and involves a global communications campaign. The athlete is already very familiar with the vehicles from Zuffenhausen: As last year’s winner of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Sharapova not only took home the prize money, but also a white 911 Carrera S Cabriolet.

Born in Russia and living in the United States, Sharapova has achieved victories at all four Grand Slam tournaments in women’s tennis and she was ranked number 1 for a total of 21 weeks.

“Maria Sharapova is an exceptional athlete. She combines top performance in her sports with elegance and power. These are precisely the qualities that are embroiled in our sports cars”, as Matthias Mueller, CEO of Porsche AG, explained in today’s introduction of the partnership.

According to Mueller it was not easy to find the right person to be Porsche’s ambassador.

“Maria Sharapova is the perfect choice. Her profile and charisma are an ideal fit for Porsche. She is also highly respected around the world and enjoys an outstanding reputation.”

Maria Sharapova did not really have to think twice: “This is a really special day for me. I have had the privilege to be associated with some of the best brands in the world, but now to be partners with Porsche, is such an amazing honor”, she explained during her presentation in Stuttgart.

For Porsche, the choice of Maria Sharapova as brand ambassador extends its long-term commitment to women’s tennis. The company sponsors the German women’s national team, which competes as the Porsche Team Germany in the Fed Cup, and the Porsche Talent Team Germany, which supports promising young players. “We are fully committed to these activities for a long term. And with Maria Sharapova, we are now extending our involvement in women’s tennis globally,” Mueller added.


Justine Henin has won her first title since her return to the courts. And that’s on clay and three weeks before the start of the French Open.  Ralf Reinecke provided us with photos of the final at the Porsche Grand Prix, Stuttgart. Enjoy the pictorial!

“It’s very emotional to be back here because one year ago at this time I never expected to be back,” Henin said. “It’s been a fantastic week, everything was just perfect.”

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Our photographer Ralf Reinecke is still in Stuttgart covering the tournament and providing you with the top of the notch photos.  Ralf Reinecke provided us pics of Dinara Safina’s birthday, Anke Huber presenting the new Porsche Grand Prix award and matches. Ofcourse many many matches that include Justine Henin, Gisela Dulko and Li Na.

The Gisela Dulko photos were a special request from the guys at GiselaDulko.net. If we can fill in request then we will. So there you go, guys! Enjoy the Dulko pics.

Other than that the tournament so far has been exciting with many surprise upsets. Caroline Wozniacki, I have to note that she is injured, Victoria Azarenka out and the most surprising exit is Dinara Safina’s. But I really hope that she remained injury free this week and found back her mojo. So that she can keep playing tennis. I mean let’s be real here: What would the WTA Tour be without her?  You let me know by commeting down below.

Now here we go with the photos of Stuttgart.  Credit to Ralf Reinecke.

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Ana Ivanovic continues her free fall by losing in the first round of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. But saying that would mean not giving credit to a well deserved victory for Agnieszka Radwanska.

In another first-round match, fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland defeated former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Radwanska led 4-1 before Ivanovic pulled even to force the tiebreaker. But the less error-prone Radwanska won it and also took the second set. Ivanovic has dropped to No. 57 in less than two years since winning the French Open.

Photos by our photographer Ralf Reinecke.

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More photos from Stuttgart. Our photographer, Ralf Reinecke, attended the opener of the Porsche Grand Prix last night in Stuttgart. He came back with gorgeous photos of Gisela Dulko, Ana Ivanovic, Agnieszka Radwanska, Victoria “Vika” Azarenka and many more.

Now I am wondering with so much beauty gracing the courts in Stuttgart this week, will we ever have a dull moment? I think not!  And I think many would agree with me here.

However there are some concerning reports from Stuttgart. Dinara Safina is thinking of quitting the WTA Tour if her injuries persist.  I do share the concerns of Dinara Safina’s but I sincerely hope that she will remain pain free this week and enjoys the game. It would be bad for her to quit now. But then again a certain Belgian, Kim Clijsters, quit a few years ago as well citing the many injuries as one of the reasons of retirement and she made a succesful come back.  Perhaps Dinara Safina can pull a Kim Clijsters as well and, might she retire, make a come back in a few years.

“I am glad to be here, this is my first big test after having come back from my injury,” Safina said. “My physio is here and I really want to take it step by step. I only started playing on court again on April 3.

“Everybody, including my brother Marat (Safin), told me to take my time but it was really difficult because I wanted to come back on court so badly.

“Right now I feel safe and comfortable, but I need to watch closely that it stays that way.

“My back injury is the worst you can get, because if things go wrong again, that might be it for my professional career altogether.”

Safina was the world number one exactly a year ago, when she reached the final in Stuttgart, but 12 months on she now realises how much she loves the game after her enforced lay-off.

“There is no way that you can go easy on a lower back injury,” she added.

“With a broken arm or leg, you can rest it, but with your back it is almost impossible. It has made me realise how much I love tennis.

“I just want to get back on court. Regarding things like rankings, titles, defending points – who really cares?”

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So we managed to get credentialed for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix tournament in Stuttgart. We sent in our funky photographer who goes by the name of Rollin’ Ralf Reinecke (guys I just love alliteration) to the tournament and he gave us some really good stuff.

We got photos of Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic and Dinara Safina at the All Access Hour.

Enjoy the photos! I sure did…

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