Wilson Roger Federer´s new racket - the making of the masterpiece

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Wilson's new Pro Staff RF97 Autograph racket gives Roger Federer more power combined with a unique classic feel. Product Director John Lyons from Wilson reveals how this masterpiece was developed.

The making of Pro Staff RF97 Autograph was Federer´s own initiative.
“We started to design a new racket for Roger because he asked us to do it. He came to us and said he is now open to new ideas more than ever”, says John Lyons, Product Director, Tennis Hardgoods.

The R&D team of Wilson had already started to sketch a new, more modern Pro Staff model. Federer´s personal request naturally put more speed in the wheels. The first prototypes were soon ready.

Federer confirmed that he is going to change his racket to a new one in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung  on December 27, 2013.

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“It is a fact that the sport of tennis is constantly evolving and so is the racket technology. Now I have the feeling that this is the right time for a change within the rackets. I’ve played through two and a half weeks with the new model and I am confident. The racket feels very good in the hand. But the truth will come out on the court.”

The buzz and speculation among tennis fans started immediately. And it got even bigger when Federer appeared in Brisbane International Tournament in January 2014 with a new, matte black prototype in his hand. The longest public playing test of all times had started.

“He played with many different rackets. It was not only one black prototype”, John Lyons reveals.
All prototypes had two big differences compared to Federer´s old racket. The head size was notably bigger and the beam was wider.

 “We went through quite a number of prototypes, versions and changes. Roger gave us feedback, then our engineers made the changes he wanted. He was very much personally involved in the development of the racket”, John Lyons highlights.

Wins in Dubai and Halle, along with several finals appearances proved that the mysterious black racket is working as planned.

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The development work was finalized in summer 2014, and on June 30 Wilson officially unveiled the brand new Pro Staff RF97 Autograph.

“Pro Staff RF97 Autograph is exactly the same racket he plays with”, Lyons confirms.

The new racket has a larger 97 square inch frame and a bigger sweet spot than Federer´s previous racket. It produces significantly more power, but the pure classic feel of the Pro Staff family is still there. How was this achieved?

“We changed many things, but the one thing we did not change was the use of braided graphite and Kevlar. That has been the corner stone of Pro Staff rackets since the very first model. And that´s the main reason why these rackets have a very unique feel.”

The new Pro Staff is played by more seasoned players and true champions.

“The players who have hit with the racket are surprised how easy it is to swing considering it is a fairly heavy racket. But yes, you definitely have to be a pretty good player to play the Autograph racket. This is also the reason why we developed and built two lighter versions of the racket together with Roger. The sales numbers already prove we made the right decision.”

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And so did Roger Federer when he decided to go with a bigger racket. He made history once again when Switzerland beat France in the Davis Cup final November 23. The 17-time grand slam champion sealed Switzerland’s 3-1 victory with a perfect drop shot.

Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph is the first Autograph racket from Wilson in 40 years.  Autograph rackets are reserved for Tennis legends, the most notable being the Jack Kramer Autograph, the best-selling racket in the history of tennis.

Read Roger Federer’s interview in Basler Zeitung, December 27, 2013 (in German)


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