Any thoughts on Federer and his new racquet? I think Boris Becker once said his racquet was like his right arm. Changes to that would definitely hurt a professional's game especially someone like Federer who's essentially stuck to the same racuqet since.. 2001?
He's dropped a couple sets in his last two matches, botched a lot of matchpoints, gotten broken one too many times... but I don't think all of this has to do with the racquet. Federer definitely doesn't have the confidence he needs in his game - and I think he's wisened up to the fact that playing half the tournaments just won't give him enough match time to keep his form and sharpness .. and confidence is dependent on his form and his form is dependent on his confidence, vicious cycle.
Also for the longest time I've played down any excuse of his footwork getting worse considering the guy is still one of the best movers out there, but honestly, the past two matches I have seen and especially this one against Mayer in Hamburg QF.. his footwork needs work. I don't know if it's the age or lack of practice/conditioning or simply a slump slash eventual decline, I think working on his footwork will at least partially bring his confidence, movement and shots back to where they were.
Now as far as the racquet itself is concerned.. I am interested to see how it works for him. Here's some 'top' players off the top of my head who have had racquet changes and how they've fared:
- Sharapova switched from Prince to Head in.. late 2010, almost 2011 I think. Her results since then have been.. eh, decent. I think a lot of that has to do with her injuries but she's not a more consistent and solid player than before and her adjustment seems to have been smooth and seamless as she's only gotten better and better since 2010.
- Verdasco: switched from .. uh.. Technifibre to Yonex I think, in 2009. 2009 was his career year if I am not wrong, that was the year he just won DC and played that big Semi against Nadal in the Australian Open. His career has gone south since then without a doubt
- Tsonga: switched form Wilson to Babolat in 2010 Jan, and his results have stayed the same. I think he's just matured as a player and has had some good wins but he's consistently a top 5-10 player with upset-able skills, the racquet change didn't seem to have hurt him
- Blake: Not entirely sure but I think he played with a Dunlop for most of his career and then had contracts with Prince but still continued to play with his Dunlop (as an experimental blacked out Prince) and eventually switched back. Clearly didn't go well for him
- Ljubcic: Switched from Babolato to head when he was #3 in the world I think and that went down the drain
- Novak: won his 2008 AO with the Wilson, making his biggest strides up the ranks and firmly became the solid #3 player and always a threat but never enough. Then in 2009 switched his racquet to Head and we all know his struggles with his serve and Todd martin and all that jazz. Didn't really benefit from the racquet until his epic 2011, and by that time was it really the racuqet? I don't think so.
That's all I have in my head. I want to see if Federer will have "not much effect" from his racquet change or if it'll be positive, or if it'll be worse. Unfortunately for him, at his age and given the "decline" that's apparently been right around the corner for the last two years, even if there's not much effect (as in, losses to top 10 players and only QF/SF at slams and masters), we can't credit/blame the racquet, and any further slide downhill will be the racuqet's fault or simply a combination of racquet and his inevitable decline. Only a resurgence can prove that the racquet has helped a bit. And that resurgence needs to be seen in his game.
So far I have noticed that his backhand slices have been pretty sharp, even on clay, and he's hit quite a few backhand winners down the line. His forehand has been good and penetrating but he seems to not be able to control it as well, especially the short cross court forehand that he had to use many times against Mayer today as a passing shot. His serve.. I don't see much of a difference.