Big 3 racquet specs and what it means for their respective games

Bender

G.O.A.T.
As a delayed knee-jerk reaction (oxymoronic, I know) to threads wondering "what if pros swapped racquets?", I created this thread to list out current racquet specs used by the Big 3 (or at least the most recent specs I can glean from the internet), and what I think it means for their games.

First, the specs:

Federer (RF97A)
Head size
: 97 sq in
Length: 27 in
Strung Weight: 366 g / 12.9 oz
Strung Balance: 31.5 cm / 9 Points HL
Stiffness: 68
Swingweight: 340
String Pattern: 16 x 19
Strings Main: Wilson Gut 16G @ 27.5 kg / 60 lbs (varied by surface / conditions at Federer's request)
Strings Cross: Luxilon ALU Power (cannot confirm if Rough anymore) 16L @ 25 kg / 55 lbs (varied by surface / conditions at Federer's request)
Source: @MattCrosby (link)

Nadal (AeroPro Drive Original)
Head size
: 100 sq in
Length: 27 in
Strung Weight: 339 g / 11.96 oz
Strung Balance: 33.8 cm / 1 Points HL
Stiffness: 65
Swingweight: 365
String Pattern: 16 x 19
Strings Main: Babolat RPM Blast 15G @ 25 kg / 55 lbs (fixed regardless of surface / conditions)
Strings Cross: Babolat RPM Blast 15G @ 25 kg / 55 lbs (fixed regardless of surface / conditions)
Source: @cyanide43 (link)

Djokovic (PT113B)
Head size: 95 sq inches
Length: 27.10 inches
Strung Weight: 353 grams / 12.45 oz
Strung Balance: 32.4 cm / approx 6 Points HL
Stiffness: 60
Swingweight: 360
String pattern: 18×19
Strings Main: Babolat VS Gut 17G @ 29 kg / 64 lbs
Strings Cross: Luxilon ALU Power 16L @ 28 kg / 62 lbs
Source: tennisnerd (link)

Observation 1: Federer's racquet has the highest static weight ("STW") and the lowest swingweight ("SW") amongst the three
What this tells us?
  • A high STW and (relatively) low SW is fantastic for maximising racquet head acceleration / whippiness (increasing topspin / pace) compared to the opposite, reflex netplay / finesse shots, and absorbing pace—all things Federer is known for. A high STW prevents the entire racquet from being deflected by incoming pace; more so if most of the weight is towards the receiving end of the racquet of course. But when the mass is tilted towards the handle it also prevents the hand itself from being jerked around by an incoming ball—ideal for reflex volleys and returns. It is a fantastic compromise between using raw, unadulterated mass for power and the manoeuvrability of something much lighter.
What this doesn't tell us?
  • STW is too often erroneously equated with how hard a racquet is to swing. To a certain extent that must be true, but there is more at play here than pure mass when it comes to how difficult a racquet is to swing—enter Observation 2:
Observation 2: Nadal's racquet has the highest SW and the lowest STW amongst the three
What this tells us?
  1. To put it (very) simply, SW is the perceived weight of the racquet when it is actually swung. A racquet with high SW feels more sluggish to swing than a racquet with a lower SW.
  2. What isn't mentioned in the stats is how Nadal's racquet manages to be the lightest to hold yet the heaviest to swing—almost all of the added weight is at 12 o'clock at the tip of the racquet. The practical effect is that this transforms a racquet that is very light and whippy in stock form into a sledgehammer / Mjölnir / baseball bat, which makes sense if you've ever seen Nadal hit in real life.
  3. This may also explain why Nadal's groundstrokes have arguably been the most powerful on tour in terms of energy exerted on the ball, but also why historically his forehand has been prone to hitting short when rushed, while his backhand has not been susceptible. When you have only one hand on a sledgehammer racquet, without superhuman strength it is difficult to move the racquet fast enough at short notice because all that mass in the head means that the racquet will resist the movement. His racquet is difficult to start moving but difficult to stop once it does start moving, so every stroke has to be timed like a pendulum. With two hands however, the racquet is easier to "force" into position.
  4. This may also explain why Nadal prefers to return serves from so deep behind the baseline. It's harder to take a half swing at a ball as traditionally taught when the racquet is leaded the way it is. Standing further back allows Nadal to take back the racquet and buys him time to get the racquet moving, creating immense power from deep behind the baseline.
  5. This issue with head-heavy racquets can be fixed at recreational levels by locking the wrist (which you will be very familiar with if you've seen an old dude with a 110 sq inch snowshoe play tennis at your local park), but even at a modest amateur level (NTRP 4.0+) this will lead to wrist problems as the higher racquet head speeds required will stress the wrist. I have a suspicion Del Potro's wrist injuries may have something to do with this, but at this point this is just speculation.
What this doesn't tell us?
  1. "Nadal will be useless with a wooden racquet / Pro Staff 85-90": it won't be optimal of course but wooden racquets will not pose as big a challenge to Nadal as is commonly thought, at least on sheer weight alone. The significantly smaller headsize might, but as Nadal is actually one of the cleanest hitting players on tour considering his steep swingpath, meaning that if given enough time he should have no difficulty connecting with his shots. The Pro Staff 85 / 90 will be even easier as their respective sweet spots (especially the 90 since the K-Factor iteration) have been deceptively huge, with wider string spacing than what exists in Nadal's AeroPro Drive. What should be considered is the decrease in twistweight ("TW") that comes with smaller head sizes, and whether they will have a pronounced effect on Nadal’s groundstrokes, which I hope to cover in due course.
  2. "Nadal's game is only possible because he uses feather-light space age snowshoe racquets": as established, Nadal's SW is very high. To look solely at the STW of Nadal's frame and conclude it's easy to swing is disingenuous. This meme is not unfounded, but it is an exaggeration.
Observation 3: Djokovic’s racquet has the smallest head size
What this tells us?
  1. On its own, not much. Larger and smaller head sizes have pros and cons so it's what’s valued by the player that should be considered. A 100 sq in racquet is more stable than a 90 sq in racquet is on off-centre hits, but that advantage is compromised by a loss of control.
  2. To balance this loss of control, racquet companies experiment with string spacing (the gap between each string) and string patterns to see if they can find a balance. With the AeroPro Drive for eg, the string spacing is actually quite dense to make up for the loss of control. But since string spacing and patterns (and even beam widths) have far more influence on how a ball behaves than raw head sizes or beam shapes do. This is why Wilson’s Spin Effect racquets were pushed as maximising spin (verifiable), while Babolat's "Aero beam" as seen in the AeroPro Drive is seen as gimmicky, and maybe why the Pure Aero now comes with a more open stringbed than the AeroPro Drive that preceded it.
  3. Currently, the “ideal” head size for a balance of control and power is 95-98 sq in, so Djokovic and Federer’s choice to use frames that fall within this range makes sense. Why? Because a 95 sq in racquet has almost as much point-and-shoot control as a 90 does, whilst providing a bit more power and stability. In other words, Federer and Djokovic get “free” control and accuracy while having to earn power, while Nadal gets “free” stability / power and has to earn control, explaining why Nadal historically is patchy with depth control while Djokovic has been sublime.
Observation 4: Djokovic uses the densest string pattern
What this tells us?
  1. Here’s something interesting. A dense string pattern is fantastic at lowering launch angles (the angle a ball leaves the racquet), controlling depth when deflecting / absorbing incoming pace, and directional control.
  2. What are Djokovic’s strengths? Controlling depth, deflecting / absorbing incoming pace, and changing directions—Djokovic’s racquet is perfectly suited to enhance this part of his game.
  3. When Djokovic changed frames in 2018, he moved from an 18x20 string pattern in a sub-length racquet to an 18x19 string pattern in plus length racquet. Together with the adjustment period, Djokovic had a weaker ROS and directional control, but got power, spin, and reach.
  4. Fedal's racquets have 16x19 string patterns. The RF97A has wide string spacing, providing a higher launch angle and spin, but relatively poor directional control. So it makes sense that Fedal hit up the middle with heavy topspin or backspin against Djokovic. As neither heavy topspin nor knifing slices are shots a denser string pattern can help deal with, this causes problems for Djokovic. OTOH, this is one reason why Fedal are so good at dealing with low slices and hitting winners off high balls—they have easier access to spin.
 
Last edited:

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Observation 5: Federer and Djokovic use a natural gut / poly hybrid setup, while Nadal uses a full bed of poly
What this tells us?
  1. There is a common (mis)conception that a full bed of poly is vastly superior to a gut / poly hybrid when it comes to spin, and that is just not true. Provided that the natural gut is used as a main string and the poly as the cross, the slipperiness of the setup, which allows the strings to slide and snap back to its original position, can be on par if not superior to a full bed of poly— depending on which strings are being used and compared, of course.
  2. This means that Federer and Djokovic use a string setup that is both more powerful (thanks to the natural gut) and at least on par if not potentially more spin-friendly than Nadal's, given that Nadal has his RPM in super-thick 15G (it's so user-unfriendly that it's a player exclusive).
  3. Not all polys are spin monsters. Federer was known to use ALU Rough in his crosses, which despite its reputation as a spin devil (given its rough texture), is actually not a particularly spin-friendly string, at least compared to standard ALU Power (essentially the same string but smooth, without the texture). I have not been able to confirm whether Federer has switched to standard ALU Power, but given all records I have found no longer name ALU Rough as his cross I think it is safe to assume he has made the switch.
  4. Gut / poly is a very potent hybrid setup as it combines the best attributes of gut with those of a poly. Gut provides touch / feel, power, and power absorption, while polys provide spin and control. As they are inherently low-powered, polys do not provide any additional power to a player. The reason why polys are associated with baseline bashing is because they allow players to take bigger cuts at the ball, precisely because very little of the swing results in how fast the ball leaves the strings, and also because their minimal (and shortlived) elasticity enhances spin. They are not suitable for players who cannot hit hard or do not possess full and fast swings, which is why they are often recommended against for casual and low level amateur players.
Other notes
Twistweight ("TW") (thanks to @One Handed Dynasty 's post here)
  • Definition: This is the torsional stability of the racquet, ie the reluctance of the racquet to twist in your hands when you hit off-centre. It’s essentially the SW of the long axis and adds stability, power, and forgiveness at the cost of manoeuvrability.
  • How this is achieved: You can add lead tape at 3 and / or 9 o'clock, increase head size, or both. Wilson has a proprietary system called the Perimeter Weight System ("PWS") that is meant to emulate having lead tape at 3&9 by increasing the amount of graphite at those locations without significantly affecting head size. Here is an example (it's that bump in the hoop):

  • Effects:
    1. ROS is easier, because it is too easy to make contact off-centre when the ball is rocketing at you at 120-150 mph, or when it is kicking above your head.
    2. Hitting on the rise will be easier, because there's only a short timeframe to get your contact right, which means many will inevitably hit off-centre. Having a racquet that won't spin on such shots will mean the racquet will correct the error and launch the ball as intended.
    3. Basically any instinct and reaction shot, where a slight misjudgement in timing can lead to disaster, will become a lot easier as the TW will correct misfires. This includes ROS, hitting early / on the rise, swinging volleys, reaction volleys, and aggressively vertical topspin / backspin shots. This is not as important when you have time to set up a shot.
  • Implications:
    • Probably the biggest obvious beneficiary of increased TW is Federer, who moved to a larger frame with noticeable heft at 3&9 o'clock. Remember the good old days when Federer would shank a backhand and it would roll into the net? The increase in TW is probably the reason why this is no longer a major feature in his matchup with Nadal. The increase in head size alone is actually unimportant because the difference in head size between the 90 and the 97 is not as big as the numbers would suggest. The important thing is when handling high-bouncing topspin balls with the 1HBH, the racquet will not twist in his hands if he doesn't connect with the ball perfectly and cause him to lose control of the ball.
    • Djokovic has always added a significant amount of lead at 3&9 o'clock, so this may explain his uncanny ability to maintain stability while hitting so early, and also why his returns are so good. A racquet that doesn't twist in your hands may seem unimportant until you have to try get a racquet on booming serves and forehands.
    • Nadal has the lowest SW although he does have the largest racquet (no lead tape at 3&9), so this explains his ROS positioning, while highlighting Nadal's exceptional racquet skills when it comes to hitting early on the forehand side and on volleys, where a higher TW could make his life so much easier.
Racquet changes (Federer, Djokovic)
Refer to @One Handed Dynasty 's post here

Other materials
For an analysis and breakdown of ATP forehand techniques, please see this thread.
 
Last edited:

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Are the swingweight specs measured on strung raquete?
I’m guessing you’re referring to Fed’s specs. To my knowledge, yes. Multiple sources including an auction on TWE of Fed’s racquet and users who have managed to get their hands on his match frame corroborate the 340 SW.

As for Nadal and Djokovic’s frames—if they were unstrung SW, it would be monstrous once strung.

In any event, SW when measured by users, without access to specialised equipment would have and can only be done with strung racquets.
 
Last edited:

Clay lover

Hall of Fame
What is amazing is how pros manage to volley with a racquet like the APD, with Nadal even more so as his racquet has such weird specs.

Volleying with those stiff babolats is already a nightmare. Imagine volleying using a heavily polarised head-heavy racquet but which is actually quite unstable on contact due to its light weight for a pro, with a flat throat, narrow beam and full bed of poly.
 
Last edited:

albertobra

Hall of Fame
I’m guessing you’re referring to Fed’s specs. To my knowledge, yes. Multiple sources including an auction on TWE of Fed’s racquet and users who have managed to get their hands on his match frame corroborate the 340 SW.

As for Nadal and Djokovic’s frames—if they were unstrung SW, it would be monstrous strung.

In any event SW when measured by users without access to specialised equipment can only be done with strung racquets.

If true that SW is calculate unstrung on Djoko's and Rafa's raquet, That would bring the raquet to about 390-400SW with strings.
I tend to believe that racquets of the three players had SW measured with strings, even if it wouldn't be best to understand the differences between raquets. Better would be to have the SW specs with naked racquets (no strings no grips).
 

albertobra

Hall of Fame
What is amazing is how pros manage to volley with a racquet like the APD, with Nadal even more so as his racquet has such weird specs.

Volley with those stiff babolats is already a nightmare. Imagine volleying using a heavily polarised head-heavy racquet but which is actually quite unstable on contact due to its light weight for a pro, with a flat beam and full bed of poly.
Notice that the stiffness of Rafa's PA is 65, Pure Aero 2020 has 72RA, 2018 has 71RA. Is Rafa using an older version with paintjob?
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Nice read. Though you should correct this sentence:
Well ****, thanks!
If true that SW is calculate unstrung on Djoko's and Rafa's raquet, That would bring the raquet to about 390-400SW with strings.
I tend to believe that racquets of the three players had SW measured with strings, even if it wouldn't be best to understand the differences between raquets. Better would be to have the SW specs with naked racquets (no strings no grips).
I mean they’re all strung SW unless I’m missing something.

The problem with getting the SW unstrung is that the Big 3’s respective choices of string become a sort of wildcard.

Federer and Djokovic use a gut / poly hybrid at 16/17G.

Nadal uses a 15G custom string.

This means that when calculating SW from unstrung specs would yield an inaccurate, low figure for Nadal, and something slightly too high depending on what you use as reference for Federer and Djokovic.

At any rate I think it’s more useful for the purposes of this thread to give numbers on the racquet that they actually swing on the court. For racquet junkies the unstrung specs would be more useful but this thread isn’t about the racquets in isolation but rather how their racquets affect their play.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Notice that the stiffness of Rafa's PA is 65, Pure Aero 2020 has 72RA, 2018 has 71RA. Is Rafa using an older version with paintjob?
Rafa has always used the first generation APD under various PJs, with the exception of 2015 where he briefly experimented with the Pure Aero and went back to his original frame.
He has always used the first gen APD under a paint job
Yes, basically this.
 

MeatTornado

G.O.A.T.
The Pro Staff 85 and 90 will be even easier as their respective sweet spots (especially the 90 since the K-Factor iteration) have been deceptively huge, with wider string spacing than what exists in Nadal's AeroPro Drive.
I never would have guessed that part. But I've also never played with any iteration of the Pro Staff.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
I never would have guessed that part. But I've also never played with any iteration of the Pro Staff.
Yeah I had three generations of the APD (OG APD, APD Cortex, APD GT), two generations of the 90 (PS 6.1 90, and the PS90), two of the second generation RF97A, access to both versions of the Pure Aero, access to two generations of the 90 (N90, K90), access to two generations of the 85 (Classic, RF85A), and access to the first generation RF97A to make comparisons.

Worth noting is that Fed’s actual 90 is a custom that’s not normally accessible to the public, so my assumption is that the reputation that the K90 is the closest to the real thing is accurate.
 

6august

Hall of Fame
Nadal uses the thickest gauge. Only 15 gauge can suffer that amount of spin.

His string is also the cheapest. A truly champion of the people!

^^

Fedr used to use fullbed gut, what a luxury choice. A proof that he can never be the GOAT.

Djo used to use X-One, a mid-range price string. Not too bad. Considering what they use, Nadal has already been greater than Fedr and Nole will when he reaches 20.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Nadal uses the thickest gauge. Only 15 gauge can suffer that amount of spin.

His string is also the cheapest. A truly champion of the people!

^^

Fedr used to use fullbed gut, what a luxury choice. A proof that he can never be the GOAT.

Djo used to use X-One, a mid-range price string. Not too bad. Considering what they use, Nadal has already been greater than Fedr and Nole will when he reaches 20.
Not sure about the X-One; my sources say Babolat gut but that’s not too important in the grand scheme of things.

Federer uses a hybrid setup, ie he DOES NOT use a full bed of natural gut. It’s natural gut in the mains and ALU in the crosses; practically the same as Djokovic.

Nadal’s choice to use a stiff as holy hell, spin and power unfriendly 15G version of what is otherwise a great string for him (RPM) is a bit weird at face value but as it turns out it’s mostly to do with getting some depth by dialling back a bit of spin.
 

6august

Hall of Fame
Not sure about the X-One; my sources say Babolat gut but that’s not too important in the grand scheme of things.

Federer uses a hybrid setup, ie he DOES NOT use a full bed of natural gut. It’s natural gut in the mains and ALU in the crosses; practically the same as Djokovic.

Nadal’s choice to use a stiff as holy hell, spin and power unfriendly 15G version of what is otherwise a great string for him (RPM) is a bit weird at face value but as it turns out it’s mostly to do with getting some depth by dialling back a bit of spin.
As i remember, before switching to the Champion's Choice he used to use fullbed gut.

Of couse my memories could betray me.
 
This is an awesome thread! I think that talking about why pros have their racquets modified a certain why can help all of us learn more about customization and how we can optimize our personal setups. I’d like to add twistweight to the discussion, as I think it’s a very important spec for rec players.

Twistweight: Torsional stability of the racquet. It’s essentially the swingweight of the long axis and adds stability, power, and forgiveness at the cost of maneuverability.

1) Novak is the only member of the big 3 to add lead at 3&9. Looking at how he plays, a high twistweight complements his game by adding stability and power to his returns. It’s part of the reason why he can hit returns from just about any position and still get depth and pace. By adding lead from 3-9 Novak is increasing the power and stability of his entire string bed, but at a great cost to maneuverability.

2) When Federer switched to the RF97 from the PS90 he lowered his swingweight from ~355 to 340 and raised his twistweight. It’s a big reason why some PS90 players described the RF97 as “clubby” when trying it. For Fed this change had lots of beneficial effects, none more evident than his play against Nadal. The extra stability has helped him to stay on the baseline and take balls early with his backhand, something he was never able to consistently do with the 90. Watching Fed now as opposed to 2006, he stays much closer to the baseline and hits on the rise to take away his opponent’s time and compensate for his age/decreased movement.

3) Nadal has the lowest twistweight of the big 3, and the highest swingweight. Even though he has the largest racquet he has the least forgiveness. The tape on his fingers is a testament to how much his racquet twists during contact. Part of the reason why he stands so far back on serve returns is because he needs the extra time to line up his shot. It’s also why his balls land short if he doesn’t make perfect contact, despite his high swingweight.

4) I find it interesting that Nadal and Federer essentially did the opposite to their setup to compensate for aging. Fed raised Twistweight to get more stability and power on off center shots, and moved forward to take away opponents time. Nadal kept a low twistweight and raised his swingweight higher to get more power and spin and moved back to give himself more time to setup.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
As i remember, before switching to the Champion's Choice he used to use fullbed gut.

Of couse my memories could betray me.
No, that’s correct but that would have been ages ago, right at the beginning of his career to around 2003, but I am not certain. I do know by 2004 he was definitely using ALU crosses.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
This is an awesome thread! I think that talking about why pros have their racquets modified a certain why can help all of us learn more about customization and how we can optimize our personal setups. I’d like to add twistweight to the discussion, as I think it’s a very important spec for rec players.

Twistweight: Torsional stability of the racquet. It’s essentially the swingweight of the long axis of the racquet, and adds stability, power, and forgiveness when hitting outside of the sweet spot at the cost of maneuverability.

1) Novak is the only member of the big 3 to add lead at 3&9. Looking at how he plays, a high twistweight complements his game by adding stability and power to his returns. It’s part of the reason why he can hit returns from just about any position and still get depth and pace. By adding lead from 3-9 Novak is increasing the power and stability of his entire string bed, but at a great cost to maneuverability.

2) When Federer switched to the RF97 from the PS90 he lowered his swingweight from ~355 to 340 and raised his twistweight. It’s a big reason why some PS90 players described the RF97 as “clubby” when trying it. For Fed this change had lots of beneficial effects, none more evident than his play against Nadal. The extra stability has helped him to stay on the baseline and take balls early with his backhand, something he was never able to consistently do with the 90. Watching Fed now as opposed to 2006, he stays much closer to the baseline and hits on the rise to take away his opponent’s time and compensate for his age/decreased movement.

3) Nadal has the lowest twistweight of the big 3, and the highest swingweight. Even though he has the largest racquet he has the least forgiveness. The tape on his fingers is a testament to how much his racquet twists during contact. Part of the reason why he stands so far back on serve returns is because he needs the extra time to line up his shot. It’s also why his balls land short if he doesn’t make perfect contact, despite his high swingweight.

4)I find it interesting that Nadal and Federer essentially did the opposite to their setup to compensate for aging. Fed raised Twistweight to get more stability and power on off center shots, and moved forward to take away opponents time. Nadal kept a low twistweight and raised his swingweight higher to get more power and spin and moved back to give himself more time to setup.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Excellent post. I was hoping to talk about twistweight later on but I don’t think I’ve reserved enough posts given the character limit.
 
Excellent post. I was hoping to talk about twistweight later on but I don’t think I’ve reserved enough posts given the character limit.
Thanks! I’m sure others can add more to what I wrote and probably give a much better definition to twistweight. I can add in some edits if you end up not having enough room.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Thanks! I’m sure others can add more to what I wrote and probably give a much better definition to twistweight. I can add in some edits if you end up not having enough room.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
To be honest I think your post will more than suffice, other than maybe describing twistweight as a measure of how unwilling the racquet is going to spin in your hands when it’s hit off centre.

As this isn’t the racquet discussions or the tips and instructions board, the simpler your description the better.
 
I also think it’s cool to look at how Djokovic and Federer have changed racquets. It gives you an idea what specs look at when picking a racquet for your game.


Racquet changes:

-Djokovic-
* Went from 26.75in 18x20 359g 32.8cm 370SW to 27.1in 18x19 353g 32.3cm 360SW.
* 26.75in to 27.1in: The extended length increases racquet head speed, giving more power and spin, while also increasing swingweight without increasing static weight.
* 18x20 to 18x19: the more open pattern increases spin and launch angle.
* 32.8cm to 32.3cm: very slight, but more maneuverability.
* 370SW to 360SW: more maneuverability and racquet head speed in exchange for less power and plough through.
* 359g to 353g: not a big change, but in conjunction with all of his other spec changes it’s basically confirming that he’s removed a lot of the lead in the hoop. Every 0.25in adds about 10 SW units, so accounting for length he removed enough lead to go from ~383SW to 360SW.
* Djoker has made changes to play more aggressively at the expense of some stability and forgiveness. This can be seen in his play as he has been serving bigger and ending points earlier. He still has the best returns in the game, but we’ve seen him rely less on that. It makes sense to save his legs the mileage unless he’s forced to for longevity.

-Fed-
* Went from 90 sq in 364g 32.1-32.4cm 355SW 58RA to 97 sq in 366g 31.5cm 340SW 68RA.
* 90 to 97: increased stability, forgiveness, and power at the expense of control and maneuverability.
* 364g to 366g: essentially the same static weight for both. Looking at the rest of the specs it just confirms that less weight is in the top of the hoop and has been moved further down.
* 32.1-32.4cm to 31.5cm: more HL balance is more maneuverable and whippy. Also more weight in the handle can give more stability on volleys and blocking back shots. This comes at the expense of power and plough through.
* 355SW to 340SW: more racquet head speed, more maneuverability, and quicker acceleration at the cost of less power and plough through.
* 58RA to 68RA: with the same strings, a stiffer racquet gives more spin and power. A more flexible racquet absorbs more energy, so while less power is transferred from your swing it also reflects less power from the incoming ball. So while it might seem that stiffer is better, a more flexible racquet gives you more control when returning high speed shots.
* this is why people saying that Fed can’t possibly be hitting with his power using a 340SW aren’t looking at the whole picture. His 90 was set up so that he had a maneuverable high SW racquet that let him create his own power without being affected by his opponents pace. When he switched to the RF, he went with a more stable racquet that he can accelerate with a shorter backswing and uses his opponents power against them.

Source for all specs except Fed’s PS90 RA from Cyanide43’s phenomenal spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...vQFMXYjM5h-G2H9RjSt9QSNLQE/edit#gid=845232108

Source for 58 RA from prostocktennis, posted by tennisnerd:




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

Bender

G.O.A.T.
I also think it’s cool to look at how Djokovic and Federer have changed racquets. It gives you an idea what specs look at when picking a racquet for your game.


Racquet changes:

-Djokovic-
* Went from 26.75in 18x20 359g 32.8cm 370SW to 27.1in 18x19 353g 32.3cm 360SW.
* 26.75in to 27.1in: The extended length increases racquet head speed, giving more power and spin, while also increasing swingweight without increasing static weight.
* 18x20 to 18x19: the more open pattern increases spin and launch angle.
* 32.8cm to 32.3cm: very slight, but more maneuverability.
* 370SW to 360SW: more maneuverability and racquet head speed in exchange for less power and plough through.
* 359g to 353g: not a big change, but in conjunction with all of his other spec changes it’s basically confirming that he’s removed a lot of the lead in the hoop. Every 0.25in adds about 10 SW units, so accounting for length he removed enough lead to go from ~383SW to 360SW.
* Djoker has made changes to play more aggressively at the expense of some stability and forgiveness. This can be seen in his play as he has been serving bigger and ending points earlier. He still has the best returns in the game, but we’ve seen him rely less on that. It makes sense to save his legs the mileage unless he’s forced to for longevity.

-Fed-
* Went from 90 sq in 367g 32.1-32.4cm 355SW 58RA to 97 sq in 366g 31.5cm 340SW 68RA.
* 90 to 97: increased stability, forgiveness, and power at the expense of control and maneuverability.
* 366g to 367g: essentially the same static weight for both. Looking at the rest of the specs it just confirms that less weight is in the top of the hoop and has been moved further down.
* 32.1-32.4cm to 31.5cm: more HL balance is more maneuverable and whippy. Also more weight in the handle can give more stability on volleys and blocking back shots. This comes at the expense of power and plough through.
* 355SW to 340SW: more racquet head speed, more maneuverability, and quicker acceleration at the cost of less power and plough through.
* 58RA to 68RA: with the same strings, a stiffer racquet gives more spin and power. A more flexible racquet absorbs more energy, so while less power is transferred from your swing it also reflects less power from the incoming ball. So while it might seem that stiffer is better, a more flexible racquet gives you more control when returning high speed shots.
* this is why people saying that Fed can’t possibly be hitting with his power using a 340SW aren’t looking at the whole picture. His 90 was set up so that he had a maneuverable high SW racquet that let him create his own power without being affected by his opponents pace. When he switched to the RF, he went with a more stable racquet that he can accelerate with a shorter backswing and uses his opponents power against them.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Again—excellent post!

I’m still on the fence as to whether the changes Federer and Djokovic have made to their frames warrant a separate thread or whether I should simply reference your posts in the OP.

Either way, I think some citations will help back up your observations. Not that I think you’re lying (the numbers you’ve posted look right and I agree with your observations) but it goes a long way in establishing authority, even if your source is another thread on TTW.

I think TTW as a source in this particular case is fine if you are referring to a compilation thread (like this one), or a first-hand report of the specs by a poster who has gotten his hands on a match racquet (ideally with pictures as evidence, of course).
Source: tennisnerd (talk tennis)
As above ^^^
 

Red Rick

Bionic Poster
Aaaight. Great thread Bender.

Few notes and questions.

- Your Nadal header says he has the highest and lowest swingweight. I assume you mean the lowest static weight.

- I'm not exactly sure what you mean with Fed this line

high static weight and (relatively) low swingweight is fantastic for maximising racquet head acceleration / whippiness (increasing topspin / pace) compared to the opposite,
My assumption would be that less inertia would make racket lag a little less pronounced. But then I guess it would make it more suitable for hitting whippy shots with a short motion.

This issue with very head-heavy racquets can be fixed at the low amateur level by locking the wrist (which you will be very familiar with if you've seen an old dude with a 110 sq inch snowshoe racquet play tennis at your local park), but even at a modestly high amateur level (NTRP 4.0+) this will lead to wrist problems as the higher racquet head speeds required means that your wrist will have to do the work. In fact, I have a suspicion that Del Potro's wrist injuries may have something to do with this, but as I haven't gotten around to studying his technique and equipment specs, I cannot push that theory with any confidence.
I don't think Del Potro's wrist injury have much to do with technique or racket specs. His forehand doesn't actually have a pronounced whippy motion at all, and I just think the tendons/muscles in his wrists are insanely stiff, which is why he creates more pace with less visible lag. This would also explain how injury prone he is. I mean he basically ruined his left wrist hitting a double hander with pretty standard technique.

- Fully agree Nadal doesn't get enough credit for how cleanz he actually hits. He's technical talent is very underrated, and the racket specs don't help the volleys.
 
Again—excellent post!

I’m still on the fence as to whether the changes Federer and Djokovic have made to their frames warrant a separate thread or whether I should simply reference your posts in the OP.

Either way, I think some citations will help back up your observations. Not that I think you’re lying (the numbers you’ve posted look right and I agree with your observations) but it goes a long way in establishing authority, even if your source is another thread on TTW.

I think TTW as a source in this particular case is fine if you are referring to a compilation thread (like this one), or a first-hand report of the specs by a poster who has gotten his hands on a match racquet (ideally with pictures as evidence, of course).

As above ^^^
Thanks! I think every spec I listed is on the phenomenal spreadsheet that @cyanide43 has made except for Fed’s 58RA PS90 which was measured by prostocktennis when they had one for sale. I’ll link him and see if I can find a screenshot or post about the RA


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

cyanide43

Rookie
I've updated my sheet with the Fed PS90 RA of 58, as well as putting the source image in. Thanks @One Handed Dynasty!

This discussion also opens up an interesting tangent for the younger players on tour, many of which are using very light racquets and swingweights compared to the big three. Do those factors make it harder for them to have consistent results and break through against that top group? I certainly think it may be a part of it.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
So out of the big 3 who’s racket specs are closest to petes pro staff 85 specs?
Each of them have something that is similar (but not identical of course) to Sampras' old St Vincents
  1. Nadal's SW
  2. Federer's static weight
  3. Djokovic balance
If I had to choose which one of the setups swings most similarly, I will have to go with either Djokovic or Nadal's setups. Federer's is too head light.
 

aaron_h27

Professional
Any disadvantage to higher stiffness other than comfort? I use a 63 RA racket with 350 SW wondering if i can go down to 335-340 with 69 RA
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Any disadvantage to higher stiffness other than comfort? I use a 63 RA racket with 350 SW wondering if i can go down to 335-340 with 69 RA
Stiffness can result in arm and shoulder pains in those people who are susceptible to that kind of thing, but since you rarely see high level players with good technique ever getting similar issues I believe it's more often than not a matter of players with poor technique blaming it on their tools.

High stiffness also results in shorter dwell times so you don't get the feeling that the ball is being pocketed at impact. This can be worked around by using softer strings and / or using lower tensions.

In theory, the other downside of shorter dwell times is that it's ever so slightly more difficult to correct the trajectory of the ball if contact is mistimed. A stiff racquet strung with a stiff string results in a ball that spends next to no time on the stringbed, so if you aim wrong the ball will go the wrong way. With a softer setup the ball stays on the strings longer so in theory even if you aim wrong by mistiming or making contact in the wrong place, the followthrough can still "correct" the trajectory of the ball as the ball will stay in contact with the strings just a bit longer.

In practice however, I think that last part is mostly bunk. Unless you're stringing your racquets with wet pasta noodles, the ball will never spend enough time on the strings to correct anything, even though the feeling of the ball being pocketed will very much be noticeable. Or maybe I'm just not good enough to tell the difference. Either way, in your case I'd just give it a shot and see what sticks. Going down from 350 to 335 is a huge drop though; I'd suggest going down in smaller increments.
 

aaron_h27

Professional
Stiffness can result in arm and shoulder pains in those people who are susceptible to that kind of thing, but since you rarely see high level players with good technique ever getting similar issues I believe it's more often than not a matter of players with poor technique blaming it on their tools.

High stiffness also results in shorter dwell times so you don't get the feeling that the ball is being pocketed at impact. This can be worked around by using softer strings and / or using lower tensions.

In theory, the other downside of shorter dwell times is that it's ever so slightly more difficult to correct the trajectory of the ball if contact is mistimed. A stiff racquet strung with a stiff string results in a ball that spends next to no time on the stringbed, so if you aim wrong the ball will go the wrong way. With a softer setup the ball stays on the strings longer so in theory even if you aim wrong by mistiming or making contact in the wrong place, the followthrough can still "correct" the trajectory of the ball as the ball will stay in contact with the strings just a bit longer.

In practice however, I think that last part is mostly bunk. Unless you're stringing your racquets with wet pasta noodles, the ball will never spend enough time on the strings to correct anything, even though the feeling of the ball being pocketed will very much be noticeable. Or maybe I'm just not good enough to tell the difference. Either way, in your case I'd just give it a shot and see what sticks. Going down from 350 to 335 is a huge drop though; I'd suggest going down in smaller increments.
I play with gut/poly which is a fairly soft set-up and no arm issues, thinking i might benefit from a stiffer frame.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
I play with gut/poly which is a fairly soft set-up and no arm issues, thinking i might benefit from a stiffer frame.
Gut / poly in a stiff racquet is really nice actually.

You get the combined power of natural gut and the frame itself, AND that addictive punchy pop feeling from the strings. It’s harder to get that from a flexy racquet with the same setup or a stiff racquet with a full bed of stiff poly unless you take bigger swings at the ball.
 

TheIntrovert

Hall of Fame
Stiffness can result in arm and shoulder pains in those people who are susceptible to that kind of thing, but since you rarely see high level players with good technique ever getting similar issues I believe it's more often than not a matter of players with poor technique blaming it
This can sometimes be the case, but it’s not the be all and end all. Another factor that you have to take into account is the person own body. Usually, players at the highest level have been playing since they were kids. Their bodies have developed and become stronger as they need to with them playing tennis regularly. People who pick up the sport in their latter years’ bodies are not developed with tennis in mind. Some people’s bodies can handle the stress, and some people can’t. That’s just biology.

For example, I have seen many people on here that use high tension polys that don’t have the best technique play fine. But me, I have tendon issues if I do use something stiff. And played full bed poly for the first time yesterday while demoing rackets and my shoulders stiff this morning. I have been playing since I was 7, but then took a 5 year break when I was 14. I play at the uni level btw
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
This can sometimes be the case, but it’s not the be all and end all. Another factor that you have to take into account is the person own body. Usually, players at the highest level have been playing since they were kids. Their bodies have developed and become stronger as they need to with them playing tennis regularly. People who pick up the sport in their latter years’ bodies are not developed with tennis in mind. Some people’s bodies can handle the stress, and some people can’t. That’s just biology.

For example, I have seen many people on here that use high tension polys that don’t have the best technique play fine. But me, I have tendon issues if I do use something stiff. And played full bed poly for the first time yesterday while demoing rackets and my shoulders stiff this morning. I have been playing since I was 7, but then took a 5 year break when I was 14. I play at the uni level btw
Yes, please don't take my previous posts to mean that I think only bad players blame equipment for joint problems. I don't doubt that there are fantastic players out there with good to immaculate technique such as yourself getting them, but from what I've read on these boards and what I've seen IRL, the vast majority if not an overwhelming number of players who whinge about stiff racquets and strings causing tennis / golfer's elbow and shoulder problems are not as good as you, and it's more likely that these low level players' poor technique is what is causing unnecessary stress on their joints.

There was a guy I used to play with who said polys ought to be banned because it always causes elbow and wrist problems for him and everyone he knew. Not only did he not meet many people (whereas my group occasionally as former high-ranking university players and even a former pro with ATP points play with us, probably to write down as a charity deductible at the end of the year), I knew right away his technique was at fault:
  1. He had his wrist permanently extended (ie cöcked back) when he hit his forehand, so his wrist was being pushed beyond its natural limits at contact
  2. He had virtually no kinetic chain, and hit big forehands by pushing his "heavy but flexy" racquet to contact and then virtually arm-wrestling it to force a windshield-wiper finish
  3. He played with a 1HBH (of course) which was essentially a shot that involved him forcefully push with the back of his hand
  4. He got TE after two hours hitting with me even though he was using a full bed of natural gut in a flexy pro stock blade leaded up to something like 13.5 oz
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
I realised I completely forgot to respond to you on this @Red Rick, so apologies for that.
Aaaight. Great thread Bender.

Few notes and questions.

- Your Nadal header says he has the highest and lowest swingweight. I assume you mean the lowest static weight.

- I'm not exactly sure what you mean with Fed this line
[quote[high static weight and (relatively) low swingweight is fantastic for maximising racquet head acceleration / whippiness (increasing topspin / pace) compared to the opposite,
My assumption would be that less inertia would make racket lag a little less pronounced. But then I guess it would make it more suitable for hitting whippy shots with a short motion.[/quote]
  1. First, thanks for the compliments. As you are well aware, I was hoping to get some informed discussion going on GPPD instead of the usual vacuous threads that get posted around here.
  2. Yes, the Nadal header was a typo, and it has been corrected. Nadal has the lowest static weight but the highest swingweight. Before Djokovic switched to his current frame, Djokovic had the highest swingweight, but not by much.
  3. That statement only holds true provided the strength of the player remains fixed, ie a constant. A racquet with low swingweight will always allow a player to accelerate faster than a racquet with higher swingweight--this much is basic physics. When you start including other players, then this still holds true but will not appear as obvious because some players are stronger than others. Nadal would be able to accelerate even faster with Federer's RF97A than Nadal can with his own frame, of course, but the maxim for racquets (re SW, STW) is that you should use a racquet with the highest SW and STW that you can swing without affecting your racquet head acceleration over the course of a match.
  4. 340 SW is relatively low for ATP standards, but for any human being (including the pros), a 340 SW frame is more than enough to get the racquet to lag in a pronounced fashion provided that the wrist is loose and not actively preventing the lag from taking place. I use a Pure Strike leaded up at 340 SW and I can tell you that thing lags like no tomorrow, even when I'm playing mini tennis in the service box during warmups.
I don't think Del Potro's wrist injury have much to do with technique or racket specs. His forehand doesn't actually have a pronounced whippy motion at all, and I just think the tendons/muscles in his wrists are insanely stiff, which is why he creates more pace with less visible lag. This would also explain how injury prone he is. I mean he basically ruined his left wrist hitting a double hander with pretty standard technique.

- Fully agree Nadal doesn't get enough credit for how cleanz he actually hits. He's technical talent is very underrated, and the racket specs don't help the volleys.
For me my suspicions about Delpo isn't so much the whippy motion itself but rather the fact that his wrist looks extended throughout his forehand. I haven't studied his forehand enough to say for sure (his wrist doesn't look particularly extended at contact), but when you force your wrist in such a position and you mistime it, causing contact at such pace when the wrist is already extended, it will put enormous stress on a joint that is very fragile.

And yes, Nadal's technique is immaculate. Some of his shots aren't necessarily aesthetic, but at this point in his career it's difficult to point out any flaws in any of the shots he hits, other than some style-related technicalities that would have an arbitrary benefit at best.

I am getting flashbacks to that argument I had recently about someone saying Nadal's backhand is all positioning and strength and not technique, so that makes me want to create another thread just on backhands.
 
Last edited:

Easy Rider

Professional
@Bender great work, m8 ...
hope this thing will be eye opener for ignorant ppl and force us to carefully pick the rackets we gonna play with and customize it to our preferences.
Also, I hope we gonna become less influenced with all marketing bull$hite companys present us

again, thank you for your time and great effort
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
@Bender great work, m8 ...
hope this thing will be eye opener for ignorant ppl and force us to carefully pick the rackets we gonna play with and customize it to our preferences.
Also, I hope we gonna become less influenced with all marketing bull$hite companys present us

again, thank you for your time and great effort
Thanks! Glad you found this thread useful.

Yes, this thread was started to educate GPPD posters in general about tennis equipment and setups. A few years ago these boards were full of posters making untrue statements about the pros’ equipment and how they benefit the players, eg “Nadal is only good because his racquet has crazy spin and power and does everything for him”.

Hopefully this thread sheds some light on this topic.
 

Easy Rider

Professional
Thanks! Glad you found this thread useful.

Yes, this thread was started to educate GPPD posters in general about tennis equipment and setups. A few years ago these boards were full of posters making untrue statements about the pros’ equipment and how they benefit the players, eg “Nadal is only good because his racquet has crazy spin and power and does everything for him”.

Hopefully this thread sheds some light on this topic.
Would be nice to have more and more ppl engaged here, with experience in domain of customizing.
at the end, ppl will have to understand that racket is our tool and have to adapt the racket toward our playing style, stroke mechanics and physical attributes and not vice versa.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Would be nice to have more and more ppl engaged here, with experience in domain of customizing.
at the end, ppl will have to understand that racket is our tool and have to adapt the racket toward our playing style, stroke mechanics and physical attributes and not vice versa.
Strangely, I'm not as perplexed about the lack of gearheads on this thread (they would be on the equipment section of the boards). I'm surprised that there aren't more questions from GPPD users about my conclusions and whether their beliefs are compatible with the information provided (and vice versa).

I definitely agree that people must understand that a racquet is merely a tool--it doesn't magically make you play better, but you can customise it so that it suits your needs better.
 

Easy Rider

Professional
Strangely, I'm not as perplexed about the lack of gearheads on this thread (they would be on the equipment section of the boards). I'm surprised that there aren't more questions from GPPD users about my conclusions and whether their beliefs are compatible with the information provided (and vice versa).
Let them digest informations you provided
 
Top