Latest Tennis News
Here’s where you’ll find all the latest racket and string news as it happens throughout the year.
French Open Review
Novak Djokovic became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, whilst Garbiñe Muguruza picked up her first Grand Slam crown at this year’s French Open Championships at Roland Garros in May/June.
Djokovic achieved his major target for the year by winning his first Roland Garros, coming back from the loss of the first set to maintain the upper hand in his head to head with Andy Murray in the final. Both players used Head rackets, Djokovic used the Head Graphene XT Speed Pro racket strung with Babolat VS Team natural gut main strings and Luxilon Alu Power Rough cross strings, whilst Murray used the Head Graphene XT Radical Pro strung with Luxilon Alu Power main strings and Babolat VS Touch cross strings.
With Djokovic now halfway to achieving The Grand Slam, (winning the Australian and French Championships, Wimbledon and the US Championships in the same year), and being the holder of both the Wimbledon and US Open championships already, speculation is rife that he could become only the third man after Don Budge, (1938), and Rod Laver, (1962 and 1969), to complete the Slam. If he does it he’ll also equal Budge’s record of winning six majors in a row, (Wimbledon 1937 through to the US Championships 1938), that has stood for nearly 80 years.
Last year’s winner Stan Wawrinka held on to his title until defeated by Murray in the semi-finals, where Murray came through a tough, bruising, four set battle full of long baseline exchanges and outrageous winners. Stan played with the Yonex Vcore Dual G97 racket, strung with Babolat RPM Blast strings.
Completing the semi-final line up, and in a Grand Slam semi for the first time, was Austria’s Dominic Thiem. There was a lot of interest in Thiem’s Babolat racket, the frame of which was virtually all white with small touches of red near the handle, and black at the side of the racket head. It’s still in the prototype stage, no details are available, and, according to Babolat, it’s known as #ProjectOne7. Babolat wants tour-level input before releasing the frame, and is also seeking feedback from coaches, juniors, and recreational players. To this end Babolat will be sending out 1,017 frames globally seeking feedback over the next few months. For his run to the semis at Roland Garros, Thiem strung his Babolat #ProjectOne7 with Babolat RPM Blast.
Garbiñe Muguruza went one step further than she did at Wimbledon last year, claiming the singles title with a close fought straight sets win over hot favourite Serena Williams in the final. In a repeat of last year’s final in SW19, Muguruza became the first female Spanish Grand Slam winner this century, the first since Aranxta Sanchez Vicario also triumphed at Roland Garros back in 1998.
She played with the Babolat Pure Drive strung with Luxilon Alu Power strings. Serena Williams, who finished as runner up in a second successive Grand Slam, used the Wilson Blade 104 strung with a hybrid of Wilson Natural Gut main strings and Luxilon 4G crosses.
Former Roland Garros finalist Sam Stosur had her best Grand Slam for a long time, reaching the semi-final before going down to eventual champion Muguruza. Sam used the Babolat Pure Storm strung with Babolat RPM Blast strings. Kiki Bertens was a surprise semi-finalist, going much further than she’s ever done in a Grand Slam event, and becoming the first Dutch woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Betty Stove in the US Open in 1977. Kiki played with the Wilson Blade 98 racket strung with Wilson Natural Gut.
Australian Open Review
The Men’s Singles went exactly as predicted, whilst the Ladies’ Singles came to a sensational conclusion at the 2016 Australian Open at Melbourne in January.
In a repeat of last year’s men’s final, World No 1 and No 1 seed Novak Djokovic beat World No 2 and No 2 seed Andy Murray, as Nole won his fifth Aussie Open title in six years, and his sixth overall, 6-1, 7-5, 7-6. Djokovic used the Head Graphene XT Speed Pro racket strung with Babolat VS Team natural gut main strings and Luxilon Alu Power Rough cross strings. Murray used the new Head Graphene XT Radical Pro strung with Luxilon Alu Power main strings and Babolat VS Touch cross strings.
Both men’s finalists played with Head rackets, and both semi-finalists used Wilsons. Djokovic got the better of Roger Federer, and Murray came through an epic five set struggle with Milos Raonic. Federer played with his usual combination of the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph with Wilson Natural Gut main strings and Luxilon Alu Power Rough crosses. Raonic had the Wilson Blade 98 strung with Luxilon 4G.
The Ladies’ Singles was a far less predictable event, with Angelique Kerber scoring a sensational victory over the seemingly invincible Serena Williams in a classic three set final to claim her first Grand Slam singles title. Angelique’s racket of choice was the Yonex VCore Si 100 strung with a hybrid of Babolat VS team main strings and Yonex’s own Polytour Fire cross strings. Serena played with the Wilson Blade 104 with Wilson Natural Gut main strings and Luxilon 4G crosses.
Surprise package of the Ladies’ Singles, and the tournament overall, was Johanna Konta, who defeated Serena’s sister Venus in the first round and went all the way to the semi-finals to become the first British player to get that far since Sue Barker way back in 1977. Johanna played with the Babolat Pure Aero, the latest version of their established AeroPro Drive, strung with black coloured Babolat VS Touch main strings and Babolat RPM Blast cross strings. Just as Wilson had both losing semi-finalists in the Men’s Singles, so Babolat had both losing ladies’ semi-finalists, as the semi line up was completed by Babolat Pure Drive Lite strung with a hybrid of Babolat RPM Blast main strings and Babolat VS Team crosses.
There were fewer players changing racket manufacturers than usual this year. Most notable change was David Ferrer playing with the Babolat Pure Drive after over ten years using various Prince rackets. Interestingly, Ferrer was playing without Babolat’s logo on his strings, indicating, perhaps, that he’s not yet fully under contract to them.
Talking of Babolat, there No 1 endorsee Rafael Nadal had a disappointing Open with a first round exit at the hands of Fernando Verdasco. Rafa was using the Babolat Pure Aero Play he first used at last year’s US Open, but of more interest was the bright yellow string he was using. He’s used the black Babolat RPM Blast for the last six years. Has he gone back to the Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour he was using before RPM Blast? He wasn’t around long enough to find out.
Two other changes of note were long term Dunlop user Nicolas Almagro, who’s on the comeback trail after injury, now using Völkl rackets, and Dominic Thiem, the youngest player in the Top Twenty, now playing with the Babolat Pure Strike 18/20.
Victoria Azarenka is still using the Wilson Ultra racket, but there was no Wilson logo on the strings, and she was carrying her rackets in a Nike bag.
Finally, after finishing runner up in last year’s Wimbledon and US Open Jamie Murray at last claimed a Grand Slam men’s doubles title when he and Bruno Soares defeated Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek in the final. Murray uses the Slazenger Aero V98 racket strung with Solinco Tour Bite strings. His carries his rackets in a Solinco bag, and they bear the Solinco logo rather than that of Slazenger. It was Solinco’s first Grand Slam success.