2007 Tennis News Archive

Below you will find stringing news as it happened in 2007, starting with the Australian Open at the foot of the page, right up to the US Open at the top.

US OPEN REVIEW

The last Grand Slam of 2007, but no new Singles winners.  Roger Federer took his third Slam of the year to make it three out of four titles in a year for the third time in four years, and Justine Henin won her second US Open title, (the other being in 2003), to take her second Slam crown of 2007 to go with her French Open.

On the strings front Henin’s win means that all four ladies Slam titles this year have been won by players using gut strings.  The victories of Serena Williams and Venus Williams in Australia and at Wimbledon respectively were both achieved with Wilson natural gut strings, whilst Henin used Maillot Savarez HT Tonic First Gold in Paris and New York.  This is the second year in a row that gut has claimed all four Grand Slam ladies’ titles, following Amelie Mauresmo’s Australian and Wimbledon wins, Henin’s French Open, and Maria Sharapova’s US Open victories in 2006.  On the men’s side polyester string had a hand in all four Slam titles in 2007 as it did in 2006.  Rafa Nadal took the one title Roger Federer missed out on, the elusive French Open, with Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour polyester strings, and Roger won the other three with his usual hybrid of Wilson natural gut main strings and Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power crosses.  This was exactly the same as the previous year, except that in 2006 Nadal had used Babolat Pro Hurricane, rather than Pro Hrricane Tour, strings.

The Bryan brothers gave their new Prince Speedport Black racket its Grand Slam debut at Flushing Meadows, but failed to take the title, going down in the quarter-final to eventual winners Simon Aspelin and Julian Knowle.  Mike Bryan was rumoured to have some elbow problems, but whether this had an effect on the outcome or not is not known.  The brothers have moved away from the all Tecnifibre multifilament string set up they’ve used for a long time to a Tecnifibre multifilament and Luxilon polyester monofilament combination.  Exact details are not yet available.

So, the Grand Slam season of 2007 comes to an end, with things very much the staus quo on the strings side.  Natural gut continues to be the string of choice for most WTA players, whereas on the men’s side polyester strings are very much in evidence.  The number of players using hybrids has risen slightly, and Novak Djokovic has brought multifilamant synthetics back into the limelight with his performances usng Tecnifibre X-One Biphase.

What will 2008 bring……………………………?

WIMBLEDON REVIEW

So, Wimbledon 2007 has come and gone, and Roger Federer has captured his fifth Singles title, whilst Venus Williams has taken her fourth. Roger was made to fight all the way by Rafa Nadal, whereas Venus had an easier ride against surprise finalist Marion Bartoli.

As usual, Roger used his Wilson K-Factor 90 Tour strung with his usual hybrid combination of Wilson Natural Gut main strings and Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough cross strings. He caused something of a kafuffle early in the tournament when, in response to a journalist’s question about his string tension he replied that he thought it was about 21 kilos, (46lbs), This is much lower than his reference tension of 55/52lbs, (25/23.6 kilos), and, whether or not this was a deliberate ploy to distract people, the majority of his rackets during the fortnight were strung at 55/52lbs. For the final Roger had 12 rackets in his bag – six strung at 55/52lbs, three at a slightly higher tension, and three at a slightly lower tension. Rafa Nadal had his usual Babolat AeroPro Drive Cortex, strung with Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour at his usual 57lbs. He did experiment with a lower tension earlier in the tournament in an attempt to get more power, but in the end he stayed with the tension and feel he knows best, and went all the way to the final for the second year in a row.

Venus Williams’ racket created a fair bit of interest, not least because it was difficult to identify what it actually was. It was, in fact, a Wilson K-Factor prototype midsize, painted white with gold leaf inlays around the head. Sister Serena had a similar black-painted Wilson K-Factor prototype with gold leaf inserts. Both sisters strung with Wilson Natural Gut at tensions of 65lbs for Venus, and 67lbs for Serena. Marion Bartoli created a major upset by taking out No 2 seed and form horse Justine Henin in the semis, and also spread shockwaves by beating No 3 seed and major contender Jelena Jankovic in the round of 16. This must have been particularly galling to Jankovic, who went down to a player using her old racket, (the Prince 03 Red), whereas she was playing the new Prince Ozone 7. At least Jankovic had the consolation of taking the Mixed title with Jamie Murray.

Bob and Mike Bryan, the odds on favourites for the Men’s Doubles, fell at the final hurdle to Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in what was their last event playing with Wilson rackets. The brothers have now switched to Prince’s new O3 Speedport Black racket, whilst remaining with their Tecnifibre X-Tra Dynamic strings.

FRENCH OPEN  (ROLAND GARROS) ROUND UP

One year on, but the same champions.  Rafa Nadal and Justine Henin retained their titles at Roland Garros with convincing wins in the finals.  Nadal had ‘upgraded’ his racket and strings since last year, playing with the Babolat Aeropro Drive Cortex racket and Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour strings this time around, as opposed to the Aeropro Drive racket and Pro Hurricane strings of 12 months ago.  Rafa was getting even more bite on his topspin shots this year.  Was that down to the octagonal shape of the Pro Hurricane Tour string?  Who knows, but it certainly didn’t do him any harm, and the heavy spin to Federer’s backhand in the final drove Roger to mistime his stroke much more frequently than normal.

On the ladies’ side Justine dominated the event, and the beautifully clean sound the ball made coming off the Maillot Savarez HT Tonic First Gold natural gut strings in her Wilson nTour 95 racket was a joy to behold, particularly compared to the much duller thud of the Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power strings finalist Ana Ivanovic uses in her Wilson nBlade Tour.

Ladies’ Singles semi-finalist Jelena Jankovic’s racket attracted a lot of attention.  Having resurrected her career by switching to the Prince O3 Red just over a year ago and rejecting a switch to Prince’s new O3 Speedport Red earlier this year, Jelena appeared with a Prince that had people scratching their heads and summising all sorts of things.  The racket is actually the Prince Ozone 7, a new frame incorporating Prince’s patented O-Port technology, that is due to go on sale sometime in July in the States, and later in the year in the rest of the world.

A semi-final showing with the new racket was a pretty good way to start, and Jelena will continue to campaign the racket through Wimbledon and the US hard court circuit into the US Open in August/September.  Details of her strings and tension was being kept secret at Roland Garros, but you can find out the strings and tensions of the singles finalists and many other top pros on my Tennis Pros & Their Strings page.

HAMBURG MASTERS (MEN) and ITALIAN OPEN (LADIES)

Roger beats Rafa – At Last!

It had to happen sometime, Rafael Nadal’s amazing 81 match winning streak has been brought to an end by World No 1 Roger Federer 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the final of the Hamburg Masters.  Roger’s first ever win over Rafa on clay, and the first time Rafa’s ever lost in the final of a clay court event.  The perfect set up for Roland Garros in a couple of weeks time.  Having experimented with lower tensions Roger is back to his reference tension of 55/52lbs in his K Factor Wilson, whilst Rafa sticks with his 57lbs in his Babolat AeroPro Drive Cortex.

Jankovic Wins Biggest Title To Date

Jelena Jankovic beats Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1 to take the Italian Championship, and rise to a career high of No 4 on the WTA ranking list.  Perhaps Rome is a special place for her.  This time last year she switched to the Prince O3 Red racket, and, having lost in ten consecutive first round matches, she reached the quarter-finals and took the first set from Venus Williams.  Prior to that performance, she was ranked No 38, and was seriously considering quitting tenis for good.  She didn’t, and now she’s No 4 in the world.  Earlier this year Prince asked her to change to their new O3 Speedport Red racket.  Jelena decided against it, and who can blame her?

ROME MASTERS (ITALIAN OPEN)

Rafa Nadal extended his amazing clay court winning streak to 77 with victory over Fernando Gonzalez in an all Babolat final of the Rome Masters on 13th May. Both finalists’ rackets and strings were provided by Babolat, as Nadal, using the AeroPro Drive racket strung with Pro Hurricane Tour strings at a tension of 57lbs, beat Gonzalez, using the Pure Storm Team strung with Pro Hurricane strings at 55lbs, 6-2, 6-2 in a disappointing final.

The Men’s Doubles final was almost an all-Tecnifibre affair as three of the players – Fabrice Santoro and Bob and Mike Bryan, play with Tecnifibre strings. Bob and Mike Bryan both use Tecnifibre X-Tra Dynamic Biphase, (sold in the USA as NRG2), in their Wilson nPro Open nCode rackets and string at 58lbs. Santoro, (Head Flexpoint Radical Tour racket strung with Tecnifibre X-One Biphase at 60lbs), and partner Nenad Zimonjic, (Head Flexpoint Prestige stung with Babolat VS Team main strings at 53lbs and Luxilon Big Banger Original cross strings at 49.5lbs), took the title with a 6-4, 6-7, 10-7 match tie-break win.

The biggest news of the tournament, however, was Roger Federer’s sensational defeat by Italian No 1 Filippo Volandri in the third round. Federer was never really in the match, as Volandri maintained the excellent form he’d shown in beating Richard Gasquet in the previous round, and went on to reach the semi-finals. Volandri plays with the Head Flexpoint Prestige and Pacific Prime Gut strings, and is pretty unique amongst top flight players in that he strings his rackets at an incredibly low tension of 31lbs, (14kg). There was no word as to whether Federer was using rackets strung below his reference tension of 55/52lbs as he did at Monte-Carlo, (see Monte-Carlo Masters below), or whether he had reverted to his usual tension. He did change racket after only four or five games of the match, but whether it was a change to a different tension is not known.

Earlier, in another upset, Andy Roddick had gone down to Juan-Ignacio Chela 6-0, 6-4. Chela was always in command, and although Roddick picked up his game during the second set, he was always on the back foot, and Chela nervelessly closed out the match on his serve in the tenth game. Chela plays with Babolat’s Pure Storm team racket, which he strings with Tecnifibre SpinFire Maxi Power at 58lbs. As usual, Roddick was using his Babolat Pure Drive Roddick racket, strung with his Babolat Pro Hurricane/Babolat VS Team hybrid at 73lbs.

BARCELONA AND CASABLANCA ROUND UPS

Rafael Nadal made it 72 clay court victories in a row with a straight sets win over the year’s Giant Killer, Guillermo Canas in the Barcelona final on 29th April. Another convincing victory for Rafa and his new racket, the Babolat AeroPro Drive with Cortex. As usual, his strings were Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour. Finalist Canas had another great tournament, reaching the final with his Wilson nPro nCode racquet strung with Wilson’s great value Enduro Tour string.

Meanwhile, in Morocco, Paul-Henri Mathieu was claiming his third ATP title at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca. Mathieu plays with the same Wilson nBlade Tour racket that has brought Novak Djokovic such success this year, but strings his with Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power at a tension of 64lbs.

MONTE-CARLO MASTERS SERIES

So, the first major clay court event of 2007, the Monte-Carlo Masters, ends with the same result as the last major clay court event of 2006, the French Open, with Rafael Nadal defeating Roger Federer in the final.

A convincing win for Rafa Nadal with his new racquet, the Babolat Aeropro Drive Cortex, strung with Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour at a tension of 57lbs. The Aeropro Drive Cortex is the same spec as his previous racket, the Aeropro Drive, apart from the addition of Cortex, Babolat’s shock absorbing foam, just above the handle.

Even Roger’s new Wilson [K] Factor Six-One Tour racquet wasn’t enough to overcome the King of Clay, and from the manner of Rafa’s victory, Roger will be hard pressed to fulfil his dream of victory at Roland Garros this year. News from the Tecnifibre Stringing Team at Monte-Carlo is that Federer was trying racquets strung a few pounds below his reference tension of 55/52lbs in an effort to obtain more power and hit Nadal off the court. It didn’t work, and Roger made a host of unforced errors. Expect him to return to his normal tension at the Italian Open, (Rome Masters), in a couple of weeks time.

Juan-Carlos Ferrero had a good tournament, reaching the semi-final and lifting himself back into the Top Twenty for the first time in a long while. There’s a lot of speculation and misinformation being spread about Ferrero’s racket, so, for the record, it’s a Prince NXGraphite, the racket he used to win the French Open in 2003, sprayed black to cover all markings. Juan-Carlos left Prince at the end of 2003 amidst much acrimony, but, following a disastrous couple of years with a rival company’s racket he returned to his trusty Princes last year – without an endorsement contract, hence the all black frame – and is now getting back to somewhere near the form he showed during his glory years. He uses Luxilon Big Banger Original string, and strings his Prince at 53lbs for the main strings, and 51lbs for the cross strings.

SONY ERICSSON CHAMPIONSHIPS – MIAMI

A first Masters Series title for Novak Djokovic, and another title from match points down for Serena Williams rounded off this year’s Sony Ericsson, where the men’s final featured synthetic string v synthetic string, and the ladies’ final was natural gut v natural gut.

Having just switched to Tecnifibre’s X-One Biphase string, (strung at 55lbs in his Wilson nBlade), Novak Djokovic made full use of its renowned combination of power and touch to blast past Indian Wells champion Rafa Nadal in the quarters, crush Andy Murray in the semis, and then outplay Guillermon Canas in the final, all in straight sets.  For Canas it was a memorable tournament, beating Roger Federer for the second time in a row, (see ‘Has Canas Got Federer’s Number?’ below), and going all the way until he ran into Djokovic.  With his favourite clay court season coming up, Canas is looking a strong contender for honours.

Serena Williams’ title was achieved with the same combination of racket and sring as she had used at the Australian Open – the black-painted Wilson K Factor prototype racket strung with Wilson Natural Gut at 67lbs.  Runner up and current World No 1 Justine Henin plays with the Wilson nTour 95 racket, and is the only top line pro who uses Maillot Savarez HT Tonic First Gold natural gut string, which she strings at a tension of 57.5lbs.

Has Canas Got Federer’s Number?

Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place? Two Masters Series events, two defeats for the seemingly invincible World No 1 by the same qualifier. First, an admittedly below par Roger Federer goes down in straight sets to Guillermo Canas in Indian Wells, and now a fit Federer is taken out by Canas in Miami. What’s Canas got that troubles Roger so much? Difficult to say really, but what is known is that he plays with the Wilson nPro nCode racket, and strings it with Wilson Enduro Tour strings at a tension of 55lbs.

INDIAN WELLS MASTERS SERIES

Rafael Nadal won his first tournament since last year’s French Open, whilst Daniela Hantuchova captured the biggest title of her career in the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells.

Nadal’s straight sets win over Novak Djokovic in the men’s final was achieved with his trusty Babolat Aeropro Drive, strung with Babolat Pro Huricane Tour strings at 57lbs.   Djokovic used Wilson’s nBlade Tour racket, strung with Tecnifibre’s excellent Synthetic Gut string at 55lbs.

Daniela Hantuchova’s victory was gained with a Prince O3 White racket in her first tournament playing with this frame.  Daniela uses Babolat VS Touch natural gut strings at 58lbs.  Runner up Svetlana Kuznetsova uses a hybrid stringing combination of Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power main strings and Luxilon Monotec Supersense cross strings in her Head Liquidmental Instinct Tour racket.  Whilst hybrid stringing is popular with many men pros, it’s still relatively rare on the ladies’ side.  It’s also interesting that whilst most hybrid players use a mixture of natural gut and a synthetic, Kuznetzova uses two different synthetics from Luxilon.  Svetlana uses a tension of 57lbs.

SAN JOSE AND MEMPHIS

Andy Murray retained his San Jose title with a tough three set win over Ivo Karlovic. Murray is one of an increasing number of male pros who use hybrid stringing – they have one string as their main string, and another as their cross string. In Murray’s case, he uses Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power for his mains, and BDE Performance for his crosses. Check out what all the top pros use on my Tennis Pros and Their Strings page.

In Memphis, as predicted in Australian Open News below, Venus Williams turned up with an all-black midsize Wilson racket which looked the same as her sister, Serena, had used in Australia. As with Serena’s debut with her racket, Venus took the field by storm, and raced away with the title. Whilst details on the frame itself are being kept quiet, what is known is that Venus is remaining loyal to Wilson Natural Gut strings as in the past.

The men’s title match in Memphis between Tommy Haas and Andy Roddick featured the two men who string their rackets tighter than any other world class pros. Title winner Haas strings his Dunlop Aerogel with Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power at a supertight 75lbs, whilst Andy Roddick has his Baolat Pure Drive Roddick rackets strung at 73lbs. Roddick is another hybrid string man, choosing Babolat Pro Hurricane for the mains, and Babolat VS Natural Gut for the crosses. By the way, both these guys are stringing way above their racket manufacturers’ recommended tensions.

DAVIS CUP FIRST ROUND

The first round of the Davis Cup World Group matches were played over the period 9th-11th February, with some interesting results.

Biggest surprise was probably Belgium’s 3-2 victory over 28 times holders of the Cup, Australia. Belgium’s hero was their No 2 singles player Kristof Vliegen, who beat Lleyton Hewitt on the first day in five hard sets, and then clinched the tie with a straight sets win over Chris Guccione in the final rubber of the tie. Vliegen plays with the Tecnifibre T-Fight 320 racket, and uses Tecnifibre’s superb X-One Biphase string, which he strings at a tension of 44lbs for the main strings, and 38.5lbs for the cross strings.

Germany’s 3-2 win over 2005 champions Croatia came down to Tommy Haas’s win against his opposite No 1 in the Croatian team, Ivan Ljubicic. Haas is using Dunlop’s new Aerogel 200 racket, which he strings with Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power at a very tight 75lbs. Ljubicic has switched from the Babolat Pure Drive racket he has used for the last seven years to Head’s new Extreme Pro this year, and has lost in the first round of the Australian Open, and now to Haas in the Davis Cup. Coincidence, or is he still getting used to the new frame? He’s still using Babolat Pro Hurricane strings, so that’s one constant.

All these strings are available to you. See the Price List page for full details.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN NEWS

So, Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the first Grand Slam winners of 2007, in a double for Wilson rackets and strings. Roger was playing with the new Wilson K Factor KSix-One Tour racket, whilst Serena was using a plain black Wilson K Factor series prototype midsize with no frame markings. Federer’s win was the perfect launch for the K Factor racket, taking a Grand Slam title in the very first tournament it was used in. As for Williams’ frame, this is the first year Serena has played with a midsize, both her and sister Venus being lifelong devotees of oversize frames. Serena started practising with a midsize racket last autumn, and is said to be mightlily impressed with the control it gives her. Watch out for Venus making a similar switch in the near future.

Both winners used Wilson Natural Gut strings. Serena’s racket was completely strung with the string. Roger used his normal hybrid of Wilson gut main strings, and Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power cross strings. Serena made the switch from synthetic string to gut some time ago, and her glory years of 2002 and 2003 were achieved playing with Wilson gut. Roger has always been a natural gut man, but switched to a gut hybrid a couple of years ago to provide himself with a little bit more power. He’s been doing pretty well with it! Natural gut was also the choice of Ladies’ runner up Maria Sharapova, who plays with Babolat VS Team gut, whilst Men’s runner up Fernando Gonzalez uses Babolat Pro Hurricane synthetic. You can have your racket strung with any of the above strings via my mail order restring service. Just click on the ‘Mail Order Stringing Service’ page for full details.