Wilson president Mike Dowse admits that he jumped at the opportunity to work with Roger Federer to create a new Pro Staff racket line.
The Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph, which hits the shelves in October, is Wilson’s first Autograph racket in 40 years. Reserved for players of legendary status, it is reminiscent of the wooden Jack Kramer Autograph, the bestselling racket of all time.
The new generation of rackets promises to deliver more power, a larger headsize, and a bigger sweet spot but preserves the pure, classic feel that is synonymous with the Pro Staff brand. As well as the RF 97 Autograph, Wilson’s new Pro Staff line, developed with the help of the 17-time Grand Slam champion, will include three further models to suit a range of players.
“When it comes to his tennis career, Roger is a chess master, always thinking several moves ahead,” said Dowse, president of Wilson Sporting Goods Co. “So when we broached the subject of developing a more powerful racket that would still fit his needs for responsive ‘feel’ and attacking style, we jumped at the chance to collaborate with him.
“This racket represents the most extensive collaboration between an elite player of Roger's calibre and Wilson. The result is a groundbreaking racket that will benefit tennis players worldwide."
While his rivals have long been using oversized frames, Federer had remained loyal to the Wilson Pro Staff since winning the Wimbledon boys’ title in 1998. However, following his shock defeat to Sergiy Stakhovsky at the All England Club last year, Federer debuted a new blacked-out prototype in Hamburg. He went back to his trusty 90-inch frame for the US Open, but made a permanent switch at the start of the 2014 season.
As well as upgrading to a 97-square inch head, Federer’s new Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph weighs in at 340g and features a 26 per cent wider racket beam to boost its power and sweet spot. However, it remains true to the Pro Staff heritage with a braided carbon-graphite construction.
“I grew up idolising the legends of the game, so it was natural for me to play with Wilson Pro Staff 85-inch rackets,” said Federer. “I love the feel a smaller head provides, and larger rackets couldn’t deliver the feedback I needed to be successful. This new Wilson Pro Staff racket has been a long time coming, but I finally have the feel I need in a 97-inch head.”
As well as the RF 97 Autograph, the new line features three sister frames. Weighing in at 315g, the Pro Staff 97 is a lighter version of Federer’s model for an easier swing. The Pro Staff 97LS is the lightest frame in the collection at 290g and features a wider 18x16 string pattern and Wilson’s Spin Effect technology, while the 95S is the most classic model, resembling the existing Pro Staff 95S with its open 16x15 string pattern.