May 24, 2004 Federer keeps abreast of technological advances By Ashling O'Connor There is a new weapon in the world No 1’s armoury ROGER FEDERER’S game is already considered beautiful to behold. So it may come as a surprise that the world No 1 has had cosmetic surgery on his racket. When Federer, the Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, steps on court at Roland Garros this week in his bid for the French Open title, it will be with an injection of silicone implants in his graphite frame. The 22-year-old from Switzerland hopes that the “molecular nanotechnology” will give him the edge he lacks on clay. In the past two years Federer has not made it past the first round of the French Open and this year’s draw potentially pits him against Gustavo Kuerten, the three-times winner, in the third round. The revolutionary new technology developed over the past two years by Amer Sports, the company that owns the Wilson brand, involves the injection of silicone oxide crystals into the microscopic air pockets between the graphite fibres in an ordinary tennis racket. The result is twice the strength and twice the stability. Wilson claims that the racket is 22 per cent more powerful than carbon fibre. “The racket is stiffer and more powerful. It’s more controllable because the silicone can be placed in certain spots,” Roger Talermo, chief executive of Amer Sports, said. Federer has been practising with the new nCode Six One Tour racket — branded in his red and white national colours — for two months. It is his first change in model for six years. “He is completely happy,” Talermo said. “The top players are so picky, he would not put it in his hands if he was not 100 per cent confident.” Amer Sports, which also makes Atomic skis and Precor fitness machines, is the first tennis racket manufacturer to apply nanotechnology to its products. It initially injected silicone, best known for its use in breast implants, into its Double Core tennis balls, giving them durability beyond the standard set and a half of play. The technology has been used to improve ski wax and is being developed in the aerospace industry. The company hopes that all its tennis players, including the Williams sisters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, the No 1-ranked female player, will be serving with silicone by the US Open in August. More than a third of tour professionals play with Wilson rackets. The racket will retail for £150.