Roger Federer, who once reigned atop the tennis world but has fallen on hard times recently, is banking on the fact that bigger is better when it comes to racket size.
The 31-year-old Federer, who had his streak of 36 Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances snapped at Wimbledon, has said he'll begin using a bigger racket for the first time in more than a decade.
Whereas Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic each play with a racket that has a head which is at least 98 square inches, Federer has used a 90 square inch racket for each of his 17 Grand Slam championships.
But after getting bounced in the second round of Wimbledon, Federer has dropped to No. 5 in the world, his lowest ATP ranking in 10 years.
While this is a drastic change for Federer, it's something he thought about before he started struggling this year. In a 2011 interview with the New York Times, Federer discussed the possibility of using a larger racket.
“I've tried bigger," Federer said. "The problem is we don’t have enough time to do racket testing, you know? I’m always talking to Wilson about: ‘What else do you have? What else can we test?’ And who knows? Maybe down the road, I’ll change again.”
The larger head will allow Federer more power but less control. He hopes it will help him keep pace with the younger Murray and Djokovic as the two battle for the sport's top spot.
Federer's idol, Pete Sampras, used the same 85 square inch racket for his entire career, but he says if he could do it over again, he might have experimented with another size.
“I would have tried some technology. I really would have — especially for the clay,” Sampras said. “[B]ut I was closed-minded and mentally felt like this was the only racket I could play with. Listen, when you’re in it, you just believe in what sort of got you there. But I wish I was little more open-minded to it. I remember at the time, talking to a few different ex-players about trying something, I was so against it.”
Federer's first foray with the 98 square inch racket head turned out well, as he rallied to beat Daniel Brands 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the German Tennis Championships.