Should Federer have switched to a 97 racquet sooner?

FiReFTW

Legend
Since Federer changed from his old small frame racquet to a 97 square inch head size racquet he has a 5-1 lead vs Nadal, and has been dominating him.

He even said today:

“I think I'm maybe serving consistently better. I get easier power ever since I switched to the bigger racquet, the RF97. I feel I'm connecting better on the backhand and I'm serving good, and that consistently,”

“Before I had to slice more just because the racquet was good for the slice, and it was good for the coming over, but I would always shank too many balls,” he added.

“I think it was hard for me to consistently just keep on attacking with the backhand,” Federer said. “Today it seems almost not a problem anymore to do it."


Since he had to slice alot before he never could be very aggressive off his backhand wing and it was somewhat a weakness, but nowadays he can be aggressive from both wings.

97 Racquet improves his serve and topspin backhand, but his backhand slice is worse (affects him at wimbledon mostly).

So what if Federer switched to a 97 racquet say after 2008? Do you think he would have done better till today and won more majors?
 

Mr Feeny

Hall of Fame
The slices were beautiful to watch back when he played with the 90. His game was aesthetically pleasing.
It still is, in a way. The aggressive play and the neo-backhand is gorgeous and it's nice to see those cross court backhand piledrivers when gets the chance to plant his foot.

To answer your question, I think so. I think he should have done it by 2011. What's done is done, though. We've had a lot of great memories and matches throughout the last 7 years, including a couple of insanely high level matches back-to-back at Wimbledon in 2012.

No complaints. Although, given how well he's played since the switch, I wonder if he should have changed it sooner.
 

George Turner

Hall of Fame
You change something when what you're doing stops working. Winning two majors in 2005 then three in 2006-2007 is not the time to change!

he should have changed end of 2010, he'd been struggling for a while at that point, performed poorly at Wimbledon (Falla served for the match against him!!) and should have beaten Nole in the US. Federer used to be somewhat stubborn when it came to making changes.

He could have won more than one major in 2011-2012 with the new racquet and he wouldn't have had that horrible 2013 season. As a Fed fan i pretend 2013 never happened :D
 

Federev

Legend
Since Federer changed from his old small frame racquet to a 97 square inch head size racquet he has a 5-1 lead vs Nadal, and has been dominating him.

He even said today:

“I think I'm maybe serving consistently better. I get easier power ever since I switched to the bigger racquet, the RF97. I feel I'm connecting better on the backhand and I'm serving good, and that consistently,”

“Before I had to slice more just because the racquet was good for the slice, and it was good for the coming over, but I would always shank too many balls,” he added.

“I think it was hard for me to consistently just keep on attacking with the backhand,” Federer said. “Today it seems almost not a problem anymore to do it."


Since he had to slice alot before he never could be very aggressive off his backhand wing and it was somewhat a weakness, but nowadays he can be aggressive from both wings.

97 Racquet improves his serve and topspin backhand, but his backhand slice is worse (affects him at wimbledon mostly).

So what if Federer switched to a 97 racquet say after 2008? Do you think he would have done better till today and won more majors?
Yes.
 

reaper

Legend
Well, to be quite fair, when you are dominating everybody, why make a significant change just for 1 guy?

Because if you make the significant change for one guy you'll keep beating everybody else, and beat the 1 guy as well. Or at least have your best chance of doing so. The Wimbledon '08 and AO '09 finals may have turned out differently.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Because if you make the significant change for one guy you'll keep beating everybody else, and beat the 1 guy as well. Or at least have your best chance of doing so. The Wimbledon '08 and AO '09 finals may have turned out differently.
Well I'm not sure it works that way. It's not as easy as you think to keep your edge on an entire field of players. One small technical change and things could change quickly.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
He should have switched in about 2005...when Nadal started troubling him.
That's using a lot of hindsight though. In 2005, nobody (especially Roger) would have predicted that Rafa would ever become that good or be so dominant over him. And Fed owned the tennis world from 2004-2007, it's tough to switch sticks when you're #1 and winning almost everything.

In 2005, Fed was 81-4
In 2006, he was 92-5

Nobody switches rackets when they have winning percentages like that. But he sure should have looked at larger rackets after losing the FO and Wimbledon finals to Rafa in '08. Once his results started to decline, the change should have occurred. Pete was telling him during their exhibitions in 2008 to go up to a bigger racket.
 

every7

Hall of Fame
I'm not sure about a 97 specifically, but 2009 is the year that he should have changed to a more powerful and forgiving racquet (essentially what he has now).

I've got a note in my journal where I recorded Jim Courier's thoughts on it during the 2009 AO final commentary where he mentions that Nadal's racquet is "Nuclear" in comparison with Federer's outdated, underpowered equipment.

If you look at that year of 2009 he was brutalised by Nadal in AO. In USO he again was overpowered by Del Potro (who was essentially using a more powerful and forgiving version of Fed's own racquet). Even in his comfort zone of Wimbledon, Andy Roddick (who by that time had morphed into a counter puncher) looked the more powerful attacking player, and took the court from Federer before succumbing to nerves and the occassion.

When you think about it, the courts had started to slow down earlier (2007, 2008) but these expert slow court players hadn't matured fully yet, so Federer was still able to use this underpowered frame and win. But by 2009 these slow court players had all mastered their games and were ready to challenge Federer big time.

The ATP shifted the goalposts on Federer a lot imo. And he should've have adapted and taken advantage of the new equipments in his favour (ATP did everything else against him with the courts and hawkeye and other change). But easier said than done - it's a big adjustment. That's why I give him a lot of credit for how he now uses these advanced frames to help his game. Other great players either couldn't survive changing equipment (Borg) or refused to change (Sampras - who I still give a lot of credit for but he refused to change).
 
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metsman

G.O.A.T.
federer was still able to produce phenomenal tennis with the 90 in late 11 and 12, probably couldn't have done that with a bigger racket where his FH would not be as good. He switched at the appropriate time. The feel you get with the 90 is unparalleled and he switched when his movement was no longer good enough to play with it.
 

reaper

Legend
Well I'm not sure it works that way. It's not as easy as you think to keep your edge on an entire field of players. One small technical change and things could change quickly.

This is all in hindsight, but the larger racquet would not have affected his dominance over the field. He plays better with it.
 

reaper

Legend
federer was still able to produce phenomenal tennis with the 90 in late 11 and 12, probably couldn't have done that with a bigger racket where his FH would not be as good. He switched at the appropriate time. The feel you get with the 90 is unparalleled and he switched when his movement was no longer good enough to play with it.

I can't see a problem with his forehand now...
 

reaper

Legend
That's using a lot of hindsight though. In 2005, nobody (especially Roger) would have predicted that Rafa would ever become that good or be so dominant over him. And Fed owned the tennis world from 2004-2007, it's tough to switch sticks when you're #1 and winning almost everything.

In 2005, Fed was 81-4
In 2006, he was 92-5

Nobody switches rackets when they have winning percentages like that. But he sure should have looked at larger rackets after losing the FO and Wimbledon finals to Rafa in '08. Once his results started to decline, the change should have occurred. Pete was telling him during their exhibitions in 2008 to go up to a bigger racket.

There was a lot of speculation that Nadal might be as good as he became in 2005. He nearly beat Federer in the Miami 2005 final at 18 then won the FO comfortably just after turning 19. It was clear he was a threat.
 

User123

Hall of Fame
End of 2010 was the time to change. I could see him winning any combination of 2011 RG/USO and 2012 AO/Wimbledon.

His FH was still amazing though even up until the end of 2012. Would have been interesting to see 2011/2012 Fed with the bigger racket and how his FH would’ve looked.
Federer was never going to win RG 2011. Why some fans can't get over it?
And 2012 AO-is that a joke? Do you think he could beat that Djokovic in the final?
 

reaper

Legend
when nadal feeds him mid court shots there's no problem, but the problems were evident against djokovic, and in 11-12 he was still able to bully djokovic with the fh in slam matches.

It's probably fair to say that Federer's improvement this year has been largely due to a change in mentality. Having the second half of last year off freed him of the burden of expectation. Seeing his tennis mortality liberated the way he plays.
 

KINGROGER

G.O.A.T.
Federer was never going to win RG 2011. Why some fans can't get over it?
And 2012 AO-is that a joke? Do you think he could beat that Djokovic in the final?
Why not? I think he actually outplayed Rafa for 2/3 sets but ended 2-1 down instead of 2-1 up. Maybe with the bigger racket he wins it.

And yeah Fed was phenomenal at 2012 AO. I could see him giving that Djokovic a great match.

I didn’t say he wins them all. 2011 USO is the most likely additional slam.
 

70後

Hall of Fame
The question is not handicap. It is availability at any given time. If such and such thing is available and if so and so did no avail himself of it, such as Pete who was virtuously stubborn, it is not a handicap.
 

BGod

G.O.A.T.
There are advantages to smaller frames. Mostly accuracy, deep power and on the run. I won a match with a PS85 in 2014 on the regional circuit because it matched up well with an opponent.

But Federer shanked too many balls and as the surfaced got slower and slower it really became a handicap but of course guy had a style for 10 years he didn't want to scrap.

Given his success 03-10 he really should have switched end of 2011. Don't know if he still wins Wimbledon in 2012 but he nearly lost in that 2nd Round so couldn't have been much worse if at all.

I think 2013-2015 produces 2+ Slams with RF97. No losses to Stahkovsky or Seppi common.
 

wangs78

Legend
He should have switched sooner but by playing with the 90 for so long he really honed his ability to meet the ball in the sweet spot of the racquet to a much greater level of precision than had he switched earlier in his career. It also forced him to maintain his great footwork well into his 30s in order to generate power with that tiny racquet.
 

Julian Houston

Semi-Pro
A lot of hindsight. I think he should have switched back in 2005 once Nadal troubled him, the rest of the tour was easy to play against, any racquet will do the job. But he was without a coach for very long and stubborn.

Another year could be after 2010 AO where he rested for very long. But all are hindsight, Federer never thought Nadal can threaten his slams.
 
Middle to end 2010 was the right time, but that decision is monumental, and noone could be blamed for not having an insight well beyond his time and context.

Anyway, we should be happy that he managed to make it work, even if just to prove what was already known: that with up to date equipment his game is effective against anyone in the modern game.

:cool:
 

reaper

Legend
Middle to end 2010 was the right time, but that decision is monumental, and noone could be blamed for not having an insight well beyond his time and context.

Anyway, we should be happy that he managed to make it work, even if just to prove what was already known: that with up to date equipment his game is effective against anyone in the modern game.

:cool:

That's true to a point, but I think Sampras switched racquets to a larger frame at some point and said he regretted not doing it earlier so there was a precedent(I stand to be corrected on that). Whatever the case, I expect leading players in the near future to school themselves on Federer and copy him in terms of being willing to change racquets and take time off etc to give themselves greater longevity and better focus on major tournaments.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
Since Federer changed from his old small frame racquet to a 97 square inch head size racquet he has a 5-1 lead vs Nadal, and has been dominating him.

He even said today:

“I think I'm maybe serving consistently better. I get easier power ever since I switched to the bigger racquet, the RF97. I feel I'm connecting better on the backhand and I'm serving good, and that consistently,”

“Before I had to slice more just because the racquet was good for the slice, and it was good for the coming over, but I would always shank too many balls,” he added.

“I think it was hard for me to consistently just keep on attacking with the backhand,” Federer said. “Today it seems almost not a problem anymore to do it."


Since he had to slice alot before he never could be very aggressive off his backhand wing and it was somewhat a weakness, but nowadays he can be aggressive from both wings.

97 Racquet improves his serve and topspin backhand, but his backhand slice is worse (affects him at wimbledon mostly).

So what if Federer switched to a 97 racquet say after 2008? Do you think he would have done better till today and won more majors?
Yes. And Sampras is wishing he had too.
 

oldmanfan

Legend
The butterfly effect is real.

In hindsight, yes Fedr changing racquets in 2010 or 2011 'might' be better, instead of 2014, but who could guarantee that he'd get better results? It could be worse just bc the timing of the change is 'too soon', before he's ready to commit. Plus, he's not a fortune teller. Changing racquets, the most important equipment for a tennis player, is a huge risk (especially if the current one has allowed him to dominate like never before seen). Yes, keeping it the same is risky too, but logically, it's safer than changing it.

A prime recent example where it went downhill is David Ferrer, a model of consistency. I'm fairly sure he switched sticks a year or 2 ago, his results declined fast (along with his age). A few months ago, I read he switched back to his old stick and lo-and-behold, his game and results have immediately improved and stabilized.

As a Fedfan, the last 1.5yr have been amazing. Since we don't know what would happen had Fed changed sticks sooner, I'm quite content with how things panned out. Who knows, maybe the butterfly effect of it all is that the trials and tribulations since the 2014-stick-switch will translate to a better tennis future for Federer. It sure provided us fans with an amazing storyline so far with everything that's happened since AO17.

As a hypothetical, some think Djokovic's level would not have dropped off had he NOT win RG16. Who can guarantee it? What if the result is that he ends his career with 13GS, but never win RG? Would he prefer to retire with 12GS which includes RG16, or 13GS without any RG? I have a sneaky feeling he'd prefer the former.

An old proverb: A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush.
 

dnguyen

Hall of Fame
RF will switch to 100 si when he turn 40 as he need more power and still skip the FO until retirement upon him.
 
Federer wouldn't have had nearly as many slams as he has if he had switched to a 97 sq in. earlier in his career. The precision and feel with a smaller head size are incomprehensible to those that haven't experienced it. The only reason Federer needed to switch to a larger head size is that as he aged he became slower, which completely killed his game as one of the best (if not the best) movers on the ATP tour. Federer's forehand in 2004-2011 was much better compared to its current level. The thing about using a smaller head size is that if you aren't playing your A game it won't produce results. Once Federer accepted that his fitness could never be at its prime, he switched. You all hate on the smaller head sizes because you suck at tennis.
 
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Soul_Evisceration

Hall of Fame
I agree with those who said he should of done once the K90 was changed to the BLX 90 in 2010, they should of made a RF 97 at the time for Federer.

As I watch the 2010 until 2013 with the ProStaff 90, he's being overpowered in matches such as Berdych in Wimbledon 2010, Tsonga in Wimbledon 2011.

He could of not won AO2010, Wimbledon2012 and several Masters including the YEC and perhaps it would of been a mistake but I doubt it.
 

mightyjeditribble

Hall of Fame
As others have said, it's always easier with hindsight. I think it's easy to see why he didn't do it sooner, when he was still winning slams, because he couldn't have known how it would work out, and in particular how long it would take him to get used to the change.

2008 was not the greatest year, but he still reached RG & Wimbledon finals, and won USO. Making a drastic switch in such a situation does not make sense - he finally got the French Open and Wimbledon in 2009, and reached all 4 GS finals, so he wasn't going to change things then either. Probably after winning 2010 AO, and then not winning a slam in 2011, would have been a time when he perhaps could/should have considered it. But he still won 2010 AO, and reached RG final beating a red-hot Djokovic, so maybe he thought about it but hesitated, and I think he'd changed his racquet somewhat already. Then in 2012 he won Wimbledon again, which would have put any such thoughts off for a while longer. Then came the horrible 2013 season, where he tried out the bigger frame mid-season but couldn't make it work, so he postponed until the end of the season.

Even when he did change the stick, he ended up losing in several GS finals to Djokovic in 2014/2015, and I think the topspin backhand didn't really start becoming a weapon until 2017.

Realistically, really he could have started thinking about it in 2010, and then probably worked on something with Wilson to have it ready by the start of the 2012 season. My guess is that he was a little later than that, maybe thinking about it, but then Wimbledon 2012 put it off a little bit further. And we don't really know how it would have worked out - might he have lost Wimbledon in 2012 if he wasn't quite ready for the racquet, and not won any of the other GS either? We'll never know, and as a Fed fan I don't feel I can complain about his haul of titles. :)
 
As others have said, it's always easier with hindsight. I think it's easy to see why he didn't do it sooner, when he was still winning slams, because he couldn't have known how it would work out, and in particular how long it would take him to get used to the change.

2008 was not the greatest year, but he still reached RG & Wimbledon finals, and won USO. Making a drastic switch in such a situation does not make sense - he finally got the French Open and Wimbledon in 2009, and reached all 4 GS finals, so he wasn't going to change things then either. Probably after winning 2010 AO, and then not winning a slam in 2011, would have been a time when he perhaps could/should have considered it. But he still won 2010 AO, and reached RG final beating a red-hot Djokovic, so maybe he thought about it but hesitated, and I think he'd changed his racquet somewhat already. Then in 2012 he won Wimbledon again, which would have put any such thoughts off for a while longer. Then came the horrible 2013 season, where he tried out the bigger frame mid-season but couldn't make it work, so he postponed until the end of the season.

Even when he did change the stick, he ended up losing in several GS finals to Djokovic in 2014/2015, and I think the topspin backhand didn't really start becoming a weapon until 2017.

Realistically, really he could have started thinking about it in 2010, and then probably worked on something with Wilson to have it ready by the start of the 2012 season. My guess is that he was a little later than that, maybe thinking about it, but then Wimbledon 2012 put it off a little bit further. And we don't really know how it would have worked out - might he have lost Wimbledon in 2012 if he wasn't quite ready for the racquet, and not won any of the other GS either? We'll never know, and as a Fed fan I don't feel I can complain about his haul of titles. :)

The only reason he started doing well again in 2017 is because of Ivan Ljubicic's coaching.
 
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