Roger Federer will always be the GOAT in my heart. I was deeply saddened but not surprised by his retirement announcement this past week. His electric shotmaking, graceful movement, and congenial demeanor will be sorely missed on the tour. But really, we’re lucky to have watched him for so long!
As one might speculate, his racquet has always been a talking point for his fans. He has changed his racquet to fit the evolution of the game over time and is one of few players to ever have a signature “autograph” racquet.
Because we all love a good dose of nostalgia, let’s take a look at the different racquets the Swiss Maestro wielded during his illustrious career!
Throughout his time on tour, Roger used different iterations of the Wilson Pro Staff line. He began his pro career with the Pro Staff 6.0 85, the same racquet as his idol Pete Sampras.
Likely seeking more forgiveness when serve and volley tennis gave way to primarily baseline play, Roger switched to a 90-square-inch frame under various Pro Staff paintjobs. Here you can see the Hyper Pro Staff 95 paint over his 90 square in frame because his 90 was not available to the public at the time.
The easy giveaway is the box beam with sharp edges to the frame and 16×19 string pattern that differentiated Federer’s 90-square-inch frame in the Pro Staff lineup.
The K Factor 90 was the first Pro Staff 90 that shared the mold Roger used on tour. So many memorable moments stand out with the K Factor 90: the 2008 Wimbledon final with Rafa, ’09 Wimbledon against Roddick, Roger smashing a racquet in Miami:
You can see the “Champion’s Choice” hybrid strings and string savers in his racquet below. I remember the frenzy when this racquet came out: racquet aficionados were thrilled!
The couple of Pro Staff 90s that came before had a longer, stouter throat compared to what Roger was actually using under the Wilson paint.
This one matched though, and they could finally get the same racquet as him! I strung up plenty of these for customers with natural gut mains, Wilson ALU Power crosses, and even the string savers. Everybody wanted to be just like him!
He progressed through various iterations of the Pro Staff 90 – Roger may have kept an older graphite layup rather than changing as the retail model updated, but the mold of the frame was the same.
Eventually, after an early loss at Wimbledon in 2013 we saw Roger testing out a different racquet: he showed up to Hamburg and Gstaad with a blacked out racquet in-hand. He lost in both tournaments and reverted to his Pro Staff 90 for the remainder of the season.
In 2014, he showed up in Australia with another blacked-out racquet. Though he suffered defeat at the hands of Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, the racquet was here to stay.
By the US Open Series that same year, Roger’s mysterious racquet had its official name: the Pro Staff 97 RF Autograph. Clad in Wilson Red accents, the racquet has a 97-inch head size for greater forgiveness and more power.
Roger has stated in interviews that he wanted to move to a more powerful racquet without compromising his feel for and command over the ball. The racquet allows him to finish rallies more promptly and allows him a bit more help when scrambling on defense.
Eventually, Roger wanted the blacked out racquet back, and the RF 97 Autograph got a makeover. He played what some call his best year with this racquet too.
He came back from injury in 2017 to win the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and finish with a 56-5 record, his best since his dominant 2006 season. He continued to use the RF97 until his retirement.
Though Roger’s professional tennis days are over, his legacy and resulting hype around his racquet live on!
The RF97 Autograph went unchanged in way of technology or specifications from the original red and black version, to the all-black frames, and even the various special editions for Laver Cup and other commemorative events. I am certain it will live on in the Wilson lineup even as this giant of the game moves on!