How Much Does Federer Spend To String His Racquet? The Future Might Be In Eco-Friendly Solutions - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Editorial

How Much Does Federer Spend To String His Racquet? The Future Might Be In Eco-Friendly Solutions

Goats were scarce after World War II, so cow guts became the norm in stringing. Nowadays, the imperative is to save the environment

Avatar

Published

on

Roger Federer Miami 2019 - Twitter @ATPWorldTour

Four eras can be singled out when outlining the evolution of the materials used for tennis racquets’ strings:

 

– 1875-1945: natural sheep gut

– 1950-1997: natural cow casing

– 1975: synthetic materials (to this day)

– 1984: hybrid materials (to this day).

Timeline of the evolution of tennis racquet string materials (Sources: tennisreviewer.com, si.com, Wikipedia)                                                                                                                 

The changes in materials for the production of tennis strings were mostly driven by cost minimization strategies. After World War II there was a shortage of sheep, so from the 1950s onwards cow guts were used, leading to the implementation of black strings as well. But it is from the second half of the 1970s that manufacturers started to employ synthetic materials in the construction of strings, always with the aim of reducing costs and increasing the life of the string itself. Since then, primary materials such as polyester, kevlar, zyex, ventran, polyurethane or nylon (or a combination of these) have been used to experiment with new ways to improve string performances. Among these, nylon is the most common, but polyester is also used frequently to increase the duration of the strings. Synthetic strings can be created using a single solid strand or hundreds of small strands.

Since the beginning of the 1980s, thanks to the growth in popularity of the game, manufacturers began to experiment with the physics behind the game and to look for the optimum string tensions that would allow for the improvement of a player’s performance. At the 1997 French Open, a stringing revolution occurred: a relatively unknown Brazilian, Gustavo Kuerten, won the first of his three Parisian titles with a brand-new product fitted to his Head racquet: a Luxilon polyester string made in Belgium. The stiffer string gave Kuerten more control and, therefore, enabled him to produce more topspin. Polyester may have started a sudden and dramatic relinquish of natural gut, but more recently gut and polyester have found a way to coexist. Hybrid strings, where the horizontal strings feature one type of material and the vertical strings another, offers players better balance between control and power. High-level players, such as Federer, mostly use hybrid strings. Although we do not know what the material of the future will be, we believe that producers will have to respond to new challenges, especially on an environmental level. The first one consists of the maturing of a vegan conscience among the public but also among some players who realise that animal slaughter is unnecessary, since their needs can be satisfied by synthetic options. The second one is given by the use of recyclable materials in the perspective of a circular economy, which aims to reduce both waste and ultimately the amount of it that is to be incinerated. What is certain is that, at the professional tennis level, top players on the tennis stage will try to find the next “Kuerten effect” in order to gain a competitive edge.

The role of professional stringers

If “ski-men” and bicycle mechanics are the professional figures in charge of the maintenance and fine configuration of racing skis and bicycles, tennis finds an equivalent figure in professional stringers who are dedicated to the fine tuning of the strings of a racquet. 

But how much does it cost to string a tennis racquet for a regular club player? According to a research carried out by tennisgems.com on US soil, the average total cost is between 20 and 40 dollars, with average strings cost ranging from 10 to 20 dollars, while the average cost of labour is between 10 and 20 as well. According to another research conducted among different suppliers by racketstringers.com in Europe, on average one would have to pay €15 for the strings and €12.50 for the cost of labour. Therefore, the total mean cost of stringing a racquet should be around €27.50.

The cost of the strings depends on a variety of factors such as the brand and material. The average expenditures outlined above seem fair for club players looking for reliable strings. Some more money could be saved by getting them online: indeed, the doxa is that the prices of sporting goods stores are generally higher, since these have fixed costs, such as the rent, which need to be offset.  Small independent stringers and amateurs obviously don’t have these costs. Local club coaches and non-professional stringers often start stringing racquets mainly for passion, interest in a small business, or to save money on stringing costs for their own racquets. Then they typically offer their services to family, friends, and other club members. These people entrust their racquets to them because in the meantime a relationship based on trust has been nurtured – the added benefit is that they can also save time and money compared to sporting goods stores. Since amateur stringers consider it a hobby at this stage, prices are generally lower, as their main purpose is to retain their stringing machines and buy new strings for themselves. Due to their passion and low prices, interest in their services can grow rapidly. They will therefore face the question: continue stringing as a hobby or offer a professional service? That must have been what prompted Nate Ferguson to become a professional stringer. In 1998, he created Priority One, a company that had the opportunity to work exclusively with Pete Sampras, after Nate had customized his racquets for the previous eight years. Nowadays, this boutique firm offers its racquet “fine tuning” services to a small group of élite male players, including Djokovic, Federer (a client since 2004), Wawrinka, Murray, Raonic and Isner, to name a few. The goal of the company is to provide assistance to the four Grand Slam tournaments and top-tier events on the ATP tour.

What are the normal stringing costs for ATP Tournaments?

When it comes to stringing services, most ATP players use local stringers made available by tournaments, who charge a nominal fee for stringing the racquet (up to a maximum of US$ 20/€ 20 per racquet). While this may be more than enough for the vast majority of pros, we’ve seen that a select group of players leave nothing to chance and want the same stringing week after week – how much do they spend for these personal services?

During the 2019 Swiss Indoors in Basel, Swiss TV channel SRF spoke to Priority One’s Ron Yu (during the pandemic, the New York Times wrote an article about him) who revealed that Federer’s service package costs US$ 40,000 per year. This hefty fee covers the four Grand Slam events, the Masters 1000 and some ATP 500 events that the Swiss regularly plays such as Dubai, Halle and Basel itself. Knowing that Federer has played 17 tournaments in 2019 (excluding the Laver Cup), this equates to US$ 2,353 per tournament. Looking at the percentage of the prize pool, Federer earned 8,716,975 dollars in 2019, which means he spent 0.5% of his earnings on stringing. Considering that Federer played 63 matches during the 2019 season (53 wins) and that he uses a set of nine racquets per match, it is easy to calculate the stringing costs during a tournament:

40.000: 63: 9 ~ 70,55 US$

The cost per racket strung during a tournament would thus seem cheap for a player of this level. It is not entirely clear, however, if other services or bonuses are paid for separately and what is included in the package.

C:\Users\OLYMPIA\Desktop\Personal Andrea\UBITENNIS\T Strings\PICS\RF_String_Tension.PNG
Photo courtesy of  perfect-tennis.com

Other customers, like Tsonga, spent 3.7% of the prize money earned during 2019 on stringing, while Raonic spent 3.1%. However, both players earned over 1 million dollars, an above-average bounty.

In conclusion, we can observe how synthetic materials have increased the duration of the strings of tennis racquets, allowing a greater number of people to be able to play tennis. So far, the changes in the materials of the strings have been mainly promoted for reasons related to the minimization of production costs and the search for an improvement in performances. However, the author of this article believes that the future innovation drives will come from factors linked to environmental preservation, a cause already promoted today by important players of the tennis tour. As for the job of the professional stringer, since tennis is a top-down sport, where the unequal distribution of wealth obeys meritocratic logic, it is conceivable that even these figures and their firm boutiques will survive, as long as they are not replaced by cheaper, ground-breaking robotic machines.

Written and translated by Andrea Canella; edited by Tommaso Villa

Comments

US Open: Shelby Rogers Delivers; Serena Still A Threat To Win 24th Major

Avatar

Published

on

Serena Williams - US Open (photo Twitter @usopen)

After all of these years of playing in the U.S. Open, Shelby Rogers is finally a seeded player.

 

The Charleston, S.C., native has been playing America’s premier tennis event almost continuously since her debut in New York in 2010. She’ll turn 30 years old in a few weeks and has worked her way up the rankings to 31st in the world.

That’s a big achievement from the little girl who hung on the fences more than two decades ago to watch her older sister Sabra play high school matches that eventually led to an Al-American career for Sabra at Emory University. Sabra became a psychologist and, of course, is one of  Shelby’s biggest fans.

LOOK OUT FOR ROGERS?

Rogers took the direct route. She didn’t play high school tennis, but left the classroom before high school to train in tennis, study online and play the junior circuit. She turned pro in 2009 at age 16.

Monday evening at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, It took Rogers awhile to start living up to her ranking. But once she turned the corner after dropping the first set in nine games, Shelby started looking like a seasoned top 30 player.

Rogers sort of blew The Netherlands’ slim Arantxa Rus away, taking a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in the opening round of the U.S. Open. Rogers especially played the deciding 28th game of the match like the veteran pro she is. She hit one long forehand and netted one ball in that game, but otherwise she rode her big serve to victory in the clinching game. At 40-30, she delivered a huge first serve down the middle that Rus couldn’t put into play.

WOMEN’S RACE TO TOP PRIZE WIDE OPEN

The way things are on the women’s tour these days, with no true leader while once-amazing top-ranked Iga Swiatek tries to regain her dominance, anything is possible.

Yes, even finally a 24th Grand Slam title for Serena Williams.

But this is about Shelby Rogers. She is playing the best tennis of her career nearly a decade and a half after her life as a professional tennis player started.

With any kind of luck, Rogers could leave New York ranked among the top 25 players in the world, or maybe higher if she continues to serve and play the kind of big-ball tennis she played  in the last 19 games Monday night.

WHO’S NEXT IN LINE

So, what’s after Swiatek, who started the year on fire with a long unbeaten streak that went through the French Open and rewarded her with as many points as the confined totals of the Nos. 2 and 3 players. Of course, Ashleigh Barty’s retirement after winning the Australian Open opened the door for Swiatek’s rise to the top.

And then Wimbledon’s grass took care of Swiatek.

Nos. 2-5 Anett Kontaveit, Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur are all outstanding players, but none currently fit in the great column. They appear to be waiting in line for Swiatek or another Barty-like player to step forward to rule the women’s tour.

WHAT ABOUT UKRAINE’S DARIA!

Then there are almost totally unknown players such as Ukraine’s Daria Snigur. I hadn’t given Snigur much chance at all on the pro tour until her shocking U.S. Open first-round victory over multi-Grand Slam tournament winner and seventh-ranked Simona Halep. 

The last time I had thought about Snigur was when she upended Charleston’s Emma Navarro in the Junior Wimbledon semifinals and then won the Junior Grand Slam tournament.

At Junior Wimbledon in 2019, I thought Navarro, who also is now on the WTA Tour and is currently ranked 145th in the world, would roll past Snigur the way she had in the 2019 Junior French Open quarterfinals. But Snigur is so deceptive with her ground strokes that strike like lightning, she dominated Navarro at that Junior Wimbledon.

So, maybe the currently 124th-ranked Snigur may be ready to make a mark on the tour after scoring her first tour victory by defeating Halep.

NO NOVAK, BUT RAFA IS THERE

Without Novak Djokovic, the men are about as unpredictable as the women, with the exception of one player. Rafa Nadal, of course, entered this U.S. Open, with a perfect 19-0 record this year in Grand Slams.

Daniil Medvedev is the defending champion at the U.S. Open, but even though he is ranked No. 1 in the world, it’s a long road to the final for the Russian. Medvedev hasn’t always been predictable.

And already, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas has been eliminated by a complete unknown, Daniel Elahi Galan.

Wow! The Greek star probably was about as much of a favorite as Medvedev.

And poor Dominic Thiem was cast on an outside court. And he lost. Just a couple of years ago, Thiem was winning the U.S. Open.

My top five picks in order would be: Nadal, Jannik Sinner, Nick Kyrgios, Medvedev and Andy Murray. Yes, Andy looks pretty fit.

————————-

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Will Rafael Nadal Keep The Grand Slam Winning Feeling Going In New York?

Rafael Nadal has injury doubts heading into his search for a 23rd grand slam title in New York.

Avatar

Published

on

Rafael Nadal (@usopen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal will look to repeat successes from Melbourne and Paris by answering his doubters with triumph in New York.

 

The Spaniard enters the last grand slam with injury doubts having only just come back from an abdominal injury suffered in his Wimbledon quarter-final against Taylor Fritz.

It was injury that saw his calendar grand slam dream come to an end and ever since then has been recovering in the hopes of finishing the grand slam year strong in New York.

However in his first match back Nadal was defeated in three sets to Borna Coric in New York which has put doubts on whether the Spaniard can be a threat in the US.

Nadal will likely not have to worry about Novak Djokovic but a victory in New York could see him be world number one with current number one Daniil Medvedev defending the title.

The likes of Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be standing in Nadal’s way and if the Spaniard isn’t match-fit then he could face an early exit.

However as tennis pundit Barbara Schett pointed out, ruling out Nadal at this stage would be foolish and the Spaniard always raises his level at the grand slams, “The match is always different from practice,” Schett told Eurosport.

“And whoever had an abdominal injury and a tear on the abdominal muscles knows how it feels. You have to be extremely cautious. You’re worried that you’re going to reinjure it again.

“And I think that’s what we’ve seen on Wednesday. When he played against Coric, he was a little bit uncertain how the body was going to hold up. And for sure he’s going to feel better and better.

“If there’s no damage to the abdominal muscle, then he still has a week and a half to improve his health, to improve the trust also that he can extend and he can’t bend on the serve because that’s the trickiest shot, the serve and the smash.

“When that is the case, Rafa Nadal certainly can be dangerous again at the US Open. I mean, he’s so fired up at every single Grand Slam. We’ve seen this year playing the best tennis of his life. You can never, ever write him off.”

Nadal is currently undefeated at grand slams and if fit, the Spaniard will certainly fancy himself to win another seven matches at the US Open this year.

Whatever it should be interesting to see if Nadal improves before the US Open with the tournament starting on the 29th of August.

Continue Reading

Comments

Does WTA Need A Top Rivalry To Drive The Sport?

Iga Swiatek is the WTA’s dominant world number one but does she need a rival in order to drive the sport to new heights.

Avatar

Published

on

Iga Swiatek (@TennisHandshake - Twitter)

The WTA has a dominant world number one and a variety of talented players on the tour but the one thing it’s lacking at the moment is a top rivalry.

 

First of all it was supposed to be Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka, then Ash Barty and Osaka and also Barty and Iga Swiatek.

However none of these match-ups created a top rivalry over a long period to generate an overwhelming amount of interest.

After Barty’s shock retirement, many people were left disappointed at the fact that her and current dominant world number one Iga Swiatek could not compete for the sport’s biggest titles in a fierce rivalry.

Now Swiatek sits at the top of the WTA rankings with almost a 4,000 point lead at the top. The rest of the field are very talented and that in itself is an intriguing aspect of the WTA’s appeal.

But the one thing the women’s game lacks is a top rivalry to generate a hype that the ATP clearly has right now.

As Mark Petchey said it’s an issue that needs solving soon as every sport has one, “Rivalries drive the sport. What they do is make sure that it manifests itself in a big polarisation of a large fan base, against another one,” Petchey was quoted as saying by Tennis365.

“You look across the board, over F1, look at the tribal nature of AFL, of Premier League football here. It’s a huge part of what you need to have a successful sport. That is the one thing that is missing from the women’s tour at the moment, is a superb rivalry, with a little bit of edge.

“That’s why I say I’m sad that Ash pulled up stumps, because I think that rivalry could’ve developed with Iga in that way. Would it have been quite as intense as the Rafa-Novak and Roger-Novak rivalries? Probably not. But it would have been there. Going into every major saying that you’re not looking forward to a specific clash potentially when the draw comes out, does hurt the tour a little bit. 

“You can’t keep saying ‘oh, anyone can win it’. Because you’re just not tagging anybody… you’re not setting the scene for something amazing that’s going to happen, a nice little volcanic eruption right at the back-end of a major. They need some people to be a bit more consistent and getting through, because that’s what will be a massive driver for the WTA.”

It’s hard to argue with those points of view from Petchey as rivalries are what are talked about for decades after players have retired.

It will be interesting to see whether Swiatek will continue to dominate the rest of the field or whether someone can build a rivalry with the Pole heading into the remainder of the season.

The next big WTA event of the year will take place at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on the week of the eighth of August.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending