Originally Posted by ace0001a
Andre Agassi was and still is my favorite tennis player. I too think it's great that he was willing to adjust his equipment through the years and when you think about it, wasn't too different than what Jimmy Connors (another great returner) did through his career...maybe even chalk it up to great minds think alike. I lost count of how many racquets Andre went through, but I do remember most of the early ones.
Back in the late 80s, the Prince Graphite Oversize was a very popular racquet. When I got into tennis while I was in highschool in the late 80s, I remember seeing that racquet around alot. Of course you saw the likes of Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Gabriella Sabatini and Monica Seles using it as well as many junior players at the time. To me, the Prince Graphite Oversize is one of 2 distictive racquets of that era...with the other being the Wilson Pro Staff [Original 6.0] that was used by the likes of Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and other lesser known pros as well as many junior players at the time. I owned one myself and thought it was a very solid feeling and performing racquet.
By the time the 80's were about to close, Andre's contract with Prince ran out or was outbid by Donnay. Donnay had created a neon-yellow/dark-blue racquet called the Pro One for him and apparently he didn't like it. I recall many reports and seeing pictures of Andre using an all black racquet with a Donnay logo painted on the strings that looked supsiciously like a Prince Graphite OS. Donnay apparently produced a full batch of the original Pro One to sell and apparently were in a bind of sorts with Agassi since he stopped using it. I bought one and thought it felt similar to the Prince Graphite, but obviously I wasn't professional tennis player and I honestly couldn't tell it was any worse of a racquet. I then later read that Donnay went back to the drawing board, studied the Prince Graphite more closely and came to the conclusion that they had to stiffen up the shafts because they couldn't copy Prince's cross bar. So when Andre started using the Pro One again, I always looked closely at it in pictures and noticed it had a different beam profile to my the original Pro One that I owned and realized they had reworked it for him. Eventhough it was the same colors (neon-yellow/dark-blue), it was a different racquet than the consumer version.
In the spring of 1990, I watched on TV Agassi play an exhibition tournment called the AT&T Challenge in Atlanta that was played on green clay. He was using this prototype widebody racquet (which some were saying was codenamed the "ghost") that was all black. I remember he kicked butt at the tournament and was hitting the crap out of the tennis balls. After the matches, I remember him saying how he was liking the development of the racquet and how it was adding more power to his game. The AT&T Challenge at the time was considered one of many warm-up tournaments for the French Open since it was being played on clay, albeit green clay. Later that spring I remember watching Agassi playing his first round match of the French Open with that racquet. Apparently he was having a hard time controlling the ball and he broke one or two of them in frustration. He later had his good old trusty Pro-Ones flown in and he went on to make it all the way to the final of the French Open that year. Donnay later released that racquet as the "Ultimate Pro" that was painted in a neon-pink/medium-gray scheme and I bought one of them too. I remember it feeling very much like a Prince Graphite/Pro One, but in a widebody format and offering much more power. But like anything else I make a hobby of, I sold it after using it for a while.
I remember not long after or around the same time, Donnay finally released the actual Pro One that Agassi was using in the same neon-pink/medium-gray color scheme as the Ultimate Pro. They called that version the "Pro One Limited Edition" and the beam cross section was very rectangular (similar to a Prince Graphite), whereas the original Pro One had a more oval cross section. Agassi won his first grandslam ('92 Wimbledon) with that racquet. I bought one of course and I'd have to say that it felt much more like the Prince Graphite than the first version did. I sold my original Pro One to a friend years ago, but I still do own a Pro One LE (although I can't find it at the moment). I remember seeing Agassi use a 3rd color scheme Pro One that was something like red/blue/silver and I think that was the last Pro One he used before his contract ran out with Donnay. Sometime around 1993, he switched to Head and I recall Donnay pulling out of the US market not too long after.
I recall Andre's first Head racquet was designed from their Tour Series models at the time and they called it the "Radical". It was bright yellow and black, the same oversize format as all of his other racquets and again had that similar feel to the Prince Graphite. I bought one of course and I was describe it as feeling like all of his other racquets before, but lighter. I guess since he like to tweak his equipment, perhaps he was trying to gain more racquet head speed by going with a lighter racquet, or racquets becoming lighter is simply part of the progression of technology, or a little of both. Either way, that yellow and black Head Radical became the 2nd racquet he'd win a Grand Slam with...he went on to win the 94 US Open and 95 Australian Open with it.
Of course his tweaking continued and I believe Andre changed to a different/newer Radical sometime midway through 1995. After that I lost track of which racquet he was using, but I do know he went through several iterations of the Radical and obviously Head is still producing a version of the Radical these days. Still I think it was part of Andre Agassi's style to be dynamic with equipment changes...something I thought was cool and set him apart from the arguably boring ways of other players.