During today’s French Open semifinal, Stanislas Wawrinka was rolling through a set and a half against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga then made a comeback taking the second set to a tie breaker. Wawrinka changed to a new racket for the tie breaker, a fact noted by Tennis Channel commentator Jim Courier. When Wawrinka hit a few duds and went down 0-6 in the breaker, Courier repeatedly commented that Wawrinka was not comfortable with his racket.
As a professional racket stringer, I am particularly attuned to comments like this. Because the responsibility of a professional racket stringer is to install the player’s string accurately and consistently, any suggestion that the racket is not “right” is a suggestion that the racket technician has not done his or her job correctly.
But Wawrinka is a customer of Priority 1, which customizes and strings rackets for players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Gael Monfils, Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, and others.
I am confident that all 10 of the rackets that Wawrinka took to court with him today were as he asked for them. All the way down to the custom molded handles Priority 1 makes for him.
So maybe the racket was “right” but Wawrinka was not? After Wawrinka lost the second set tiebreaker, the commentators noted that he served just 31% first serves for the set and converted just 1 of 8 break point opportunities. So maybe his struggles were due more to the pressure of the situation than the racket not feeling right?