Roger Federer is a household name when it comes to tennis. He made his debut into the international tennis scene in 1998, and the rest has been history. He survived as one of the toughest players this generation could ever produce, having amassed 20 Grand Slam titles, 98 ATP Singles titles, and two Olympic medals.
He is one of the best role models for kids aspiring to be tennis players, because of his great attitude on and off the court. He is classed by many critics as the perfect tennis player the world has ever seen, with his serve and forehand being the highlight of the show.
Many people wonder as to what mythical weapon does this god of tennis actually wield. Is it a racquet that you can buy off the shelves of a sports store or Amazon? Or is it something extremely different? I certainly wondered about this a lot when I was researching the topic, and I did make some inroads into the matter.
The answer is neither a definite yes or a no. Before 2017, you could not buy the racquet that he was actually using. He used to use an extremely different racquet than the one that he was actually endorsing, and most people did not get to experience his racquet setup. In 2017, he closely worked with Wilson to make a racquet pretty close to his own. The racquet that he came out with is called the Wilson Pro-Staff RF97a. The “a” stands for autograph because it also comes with a pretty nice signature from Roger Federer.
I personally liked the racquet a lot. It’s right up my alley when it comes to weight and comfort. You can find it on Amazon by clicking this link
I will try and detail what his actual setup looks like; so, if you are feeling adventurous, and have some extra cash lying around why not try it out, right?
What Frame Does He Use?
Some theorists on the internet are of the opinion that what Federer sells and what he plays with are still completely different sticks. But, I’ve scoured the internet for information and have come to the conclusion that both the frames are more or less the same. The only difference that I could see was that his racquet has a lower stiffness rating, and the retail one is higher. This might be due to the fact that pros have higher swing speeds and can handle a racquet that has a lower stiffness rating, which in turn provides them with extra control and feel.
When it comes to the professional game, it is always going to be different from anything under that level. Even high-level junior tennis players can get by with retail racquets that are sold online or in stores. The professional game is all about heavy flat balls which are hit with top-spin, which makes the ball extremely hard to hit if you do not have a high swing weight. People like to argue that high racquet head speed is the solution to all of your problems, but that’s not always the case. The ball comes towards the racquet with a momentum that is higher than what the racquet can actually handle. This makes for a weak return, even if the ball strikes the sweet spot.
So, professional players counteract this problem by adding some extra weight to different positions of the racquet. They are professional athletes, and can handle some extra weight without a lot of downtime in between; trying to get comfortable with them.
The retail racquet might still be a little too light for Federer’s taste, so he adds some extra flavor to it just to be relevant on the Pro Tour. People like Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are notorious for having the highest swing weights in the game, just so they can play their style of tennis as efficiently as possible.
Are you someone who does not get a lot of time to play tennis, either because of your job or your geographic location, but you are still passionate about this beautiful game and want to learn it? I wrote a post with this exact problem in mind, it is called How To Improve Tennis Skills At Home
I go over different drills that you can do to still improve at the game that we all love.
These are the technical specs of the RF 97A:
Head Size: 97 sq. in. / 625.81 sq. cm.
Length: 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight: 12.6oz / 357.2g
Balance: 12.38in / 31.45cm / 9 pts HL
Beam Width: 21.5mm / 21.5mm / 21.5mm /
Composition: Braided Kevlar & Graphite / Basalt Fibers
Power Level: Low
Stroke Style: Full
Swing Speed: Fast
Racquet Colors:Red/ Black
Grip Type: Wilson Premium Leather
String Pattern: 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
Mains skip: 7T,9T,7H,9H
Now, it does seem like a professional racquet, with the weight and swing weight pretty close to ideal compared to the one Federer plays. But the one he plays with is just a little different.
He uses a racquet which is 366g and has a swing weight of 350. He uses a lower swing weight than Djokovic or Murray because they hit relatively flat balls, and he hits the ball with a lot of topspin. His game has more similarities to Nadal as compared to any other player in the professional scene, and most fans would denounce this fact. The person who has watched both Nadal and Federer play in real life will agree with this statement.
How He Modifies it!
Federer does not seem to have any external lead tape applied according to the different websites that I got all this information from, he gets a special batch made from his parent company Wilson. This batch is matched to his tastes to the utmost precision because the company wants their moneymaker to have the best equipment.
The modified specs of his racquet are:
- Weight: 12.9 ounces / 366 grams
- Balance: 31.5cm / 9 pts HL
- Stiffness: RA 68
- Swingweight: 350
What String Combination Does He Use
So, Federer has always been vocal about the string combination he uses. That’s right, Federer is an old school player, and loves his hybrid string combinations. The string choice he currently goes for is Wilson’s Champion’s Choice. It is a hybrid of natural gut supplied by Wilson, and a polyester string called Luxilon Alu Power Rough.
He gets his mains done with the natural gut, and the crosses done with Alu Power. This provides him with a great combination of control and power at the same time. The natural gut provides him with the best feel and comfort, and poly makes the string bed overall more durable and solid.
If you are interested in trying out this hybrid combination, you can check the current pricing on Amazon by clicking here
I am a pretty big fan of Champions Choice, I get it strung on my racquets whenever I get the chance.
He also uses something known in the tennis world as string savers. String savers are basically small pieces of plastic, inserted in between the lattices of the mains and crosses. Their main task is to do exactly what their name suggests; increase the durability of the string bed.
You have to watch out though, because this is essentially a piece of plastic that you are putting on the string bed, and it will change the stiffness of it. Due to this plastic, the racquet does tend to lose a bit of spin. Federer, of course, is a professional superstar and compensates for the lack of spin with his technique, but recreational or intermediate players might suffer.
String savers are pretty cheap to acquire and test out. Here is an Amazon link for them. Try them out, maybe you will end up liking them.
Federer is a very old school player, with a very traditional game. The fact that he goes this traditional hybrid setup does not surprise me at all. He gets the extreme power from the natural gut, and the control desired from the polyester.
Combine all of these, and it makes for one ultimate weapon of destruction through which the Swiss Maestro has dominated men’s tennis for more than 15 years.