Ranking the Most Popular Rackets in Tennis Today
The phrases "most popular" and "tennis rackets today" do not go together—at least not across the board in the men's game.
Although there are a few types that are used more often, it is clear that there is no consensus among the sport's best as to which racquet is the best.
And just how important are these tools that the pros choose?
Yannick Noah once summed them up this way: "I have always considered tennis as a combat in an arena between two gladiators who have their rackets and their courage as their weapons."
For purposes of this survey, the top 25 gladiators from the ATP tour will be looked at to provide a good-sized sample group. The most popular rackets will be determined by brand with specific models identified within those groupings.
Here's the latest list:
No. 5 Yonex, Pro Kennex, Tecnifibre
For these three brands, the good news is that they are used by the top professionals on the men's ATP World Tour.
The bad news is that only three of the top 25 use them.
No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka plays the Yonex V Core Tour 97.
No. 22 Andreas Seppi hits with the Pro Kennex Q Tour.
No. 23 Janko Tipsarevic uses the Tecnifibre T Fight 325.
Although these companies must be wishing for more high-profile players to use their gear, there is a point worth mentioning. According to Tennis Warehouse, Tecnifibre is now the official product sponsor of the ATP World Tour.
No. 4 Prince and Dunlop
Another tie here.
Prince and Dunlop are twice as popular with this year's players than the aforementioned three rackets in the previous slide. That means two each for these brands.
The honor goes to Prince first. The American company claims No. 4 David Ferrer among its clients. He uses the EXO3 Tour 100. American John Isner also uses the EXO3, opting for the Warrior model, which may explain his ferocious serve.
According to Tennishead.net., Isner's assessment of the frame's effect on his game is that, "I feel like it's very flexible and it has a lot of power in it."
Hmmm, that sounds about right, doesn't it, Isner fans?
Dunlop sought Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo as its stars. Ironically, the two are ranked right next to each other as well at No. 17 and No. 18, respectively.
No. 3 Babolat
Now it's time for the heavy hitters, so to speak.
In keeping with doubling the numbers each time, Babolat has four players using its products. Fortunately for them, one of their pros is a high-profile name.
No. 2 Rafael Nadal wields the Aero Pro Drive GT model, which he uses to literally drives opponents all over the courts.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No. 8 player in the ATP world rankings, also uses an Aero Pro, the French Open model. That seems a bit strange. Shouldn't Nadal and Tsonga exchange rackets? Nadal has always had a bit of luck on French clay.
New crowd favorite, No. 15 Jerzy Janowicz, has found success using Babolat's Aero Storm GT frame, bringing a literal storm to the net that hasn't been seen for a while. Sometimes, it seems that a simple change of rackets is enough to bring one out of the tennis doldrums.
At least that's what Juan José of Changeovertennis.com observed when Janowicz emerged from the shadows of the Challengers and Futures events.
Finally, Fabio Fognini of Italy, the world No. 19, has opted for the Pure Drive Plus, as he seeks to move up the rankings.
No. 2 Wilson
American tennis gear giant Wilson has long been used by the stars of the game with Pete Sampras and Chris Evert springing quickly to mind.
That dominance on the courts continues today.
Most fans are aware that Roger Federer has been using a Wilson throughout his illustrious career. Currently, he plays with a Pro Staff 90 BLX, but that could change, as Sports Illustrated's Courtney Nguyen explains, .
Former U.S. Open champion and current No. 7 Juan Martin Del Potro uses the oddly named Juice Pro BLX, as does Feliciano Lopez, the No. 24 player. Lopez's model is actually the Juice 100 BLX.
Two other men's players also wield Wilsons—Canadian power player Milos Raonic, and the up-and-coming Kei Nishikori.
Raonic, ranked No. 11, plays with the Blade 98 while Nishikori, ranked No. 13, plays with the Steam 100 BLX. Between them, they have two rackets and eight ATP Tour titles.
To round out the grouping, Philip Kohlschreiber, ranked No. 25, uses the Wilson 6.1 95 BLX.
No. 1 Head
The Head brand is literally heads and shoulders above the rest when it comes to tennis racket manufacturers.
Eight of the world's top tennis professionals to play with Head rackets, including No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who uses the YOUTEK Graphene Speed Pro.
After his much-criticized switch from Wilson, the six-time Grand Slam champion has been on a steady upward trajectory and he doesn't look like he is slowing down any time soon.
Djokovic's streak alleviates the cynical critique that former British pro Tim Henman raised, as reported by Mark Hodgkinson of London's The Telegraph:
I was surprised to see that Djokovic is now playing with a different racket. That's a big risk to take when you are about to defend a grand slam title for the first time. He also hasn't had very much time to practice with it.
That's clearly a financial decision that he's taken, but it's going to take a while for him to get used to playing with a different manufacturer's frame.
Also playing a Graphene model, in this case the Instinct MP, is No. 5 Tomas Berdych. He has likewise reached his career-best ranking. Is it a coincidence or the use of a Head racket?
The IG line from Head has proven to be a popular choice among several members of the Top 25 players in the ATP rankings.
Andy Murray, the 2013 Wimbledon champion, uses the Radical Pro. No. 10 Richard Gasquet and No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny both use the Extreme Pro while No. 12 Tommy Haas and No. 14 Gilles Simon both sport the Prestige. Also playing this frame is No. 21 Kevin Anderson.
Altogether, Team Head members listed here have won eight Grand Slams and 118 total titles.
One must wonder the obvious: Since Yonex, Pro Kennex and Tecnifibre can only tout 11 tournament victories between them, who will they go after to increase the "prestige", of their brand recognition?