Roger Federer Wise to Stop Experimenting with New Racket Through US Open
Roger Federer might be wise to try out a new racket eventually, but right when he's trying to drum up some momentum before the U.S. Open is not the time.
Faced with a falling world ranking and increasingly disappointing appearances in the Slam tournaments this season, the 32-year-old Federer resorted to an equipment change to get his game back on track.
According to Chris Chase of USA Today, the 17-time Slam champion put down his traditional 90-inch racket for a 98-inch model that would put him on a more level playing field with other top players like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal (who use 100-inch models) and Andy Murray (98-inch).
However, the switch hasn't brought about immediate success.
Federer went just 3-2 in matches with the new racket including losses to No. 114 Federico Delbonis and No. 55 Daniel Brands. In theory, the larger racket head should allow Federer to generate more power. But with an entire career of success with the smaller racket to his name, the transition has not been smooth.
With the Western & Southern Open representing the final opportunity for Federer to get dialed in for the final Slam on the 2013 calender, he's made a return to his old racket, according to Chase.
Though it's an extremely small sample size, the move seems to have paid off early. Federer defeated No. 26 Philipp Kohlschreiber in his first match, 6-3, 7-6 (7) and will now take on No. 13 Tommy Haas, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals.
Did Federer make the right call?
Usually, that result wouldn't be a big deal. After all, Federer's five Western & Southern Open titles is more than any other player in the history of the tournament. But with Federer's inability to advance past his first match against Brands in the first round of the Swiss Open, the win takes on a greater sense of significance.
With the confidence that he'll have in the familiar racket and familiar setting, the tournament is the perfect stage for him to get some momentum before the U.S. Open.
Federer can always go back to experimenting with the new racket if he's still unhappy with his results after the final Slam of the year. As he told the ATP, he can focus on equipment when he isn't just a few weeks from a major tournament.
I'm going to do more racquet testing when I have, again, some more time after the US Open... I was playing for a month with the black one, but it's a prototype. At the end, I just felt like, you know what, right now I feel like I need to simplify everything and just play with what I know best.
Federer certainly seems to be approaching the situation properly. He needs to go back to the basics that have made him a great champion and put his best foot forward as he finishes out the year. Perhaps he'll show up to the 2014 Australian Open with the new and improved racket and the confidence to utilize it properly.
For now, he's making the right choice by sticking with what he knows.
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