During Wimbledon 2016, Sam Stosur gave fans some insights into the gear and equipment she chooses and the decisions behind it.
What racquet do you use?
It’s called the Babolat Project One 7. My racquet has lead taping on the frame so it is a little bit heavier.
How long have you used that one?
How long have you been with Babolat?
I started with Babolat in 2009 and really love their equipment. From the moment I stared with the Babolat racquet it felt really comfortable and I saw improvement in my tennis.
Why did you make the switch?
When I started working with Dave (Taylor), he suggested a change of racquet may help my game style. So I tested about six different racquets and soon as I hit with that Babolat, I liked it straight away and knew that it was going to be the one for me.
What does it mean when a racquet is not “good for your game”?
Well I guess when I’m playing with spin and a little bit different to most girls, I need a solid kind of racquet. Not heavy – it just feels solid. I like it when you hit it and it feels firm. I want that solid feeling. And this racquet gives me that.
You must get very sensitive to the feeling of your equipment. So when you want to change something, what’s the process for trialling it so that it won’t affect you and throw out your rhythm when you start competing?
It’s hard – but I think if you’re not totally convinced with what you’re using then you’ve gotta do something sooner rather than later. For me it’s also like working on a stroke – if it keeps breaking down continually under pressure and if it’s mid-season, you’ve gotta change it because it’s not going to get better.
For me I was finding in certain conditions I was having trouble generating a lot of power in certain positions on the court. So I wanted to try something. It was actually at a Fed Cup tie, so I had about five days of practice where I knew I was going to have lots of time to be on court, I had a bunch of different things, and I was stringing my racquets every day with a different tension and kind of playing around with it like that. I wouldn’t necessarily try something like that on grass because we only play on it for a couple of weeks a year. But maybe on a hard court or clay is a good time for me to try different things out. But you need a good few days of consistent practice in similar conditions where you can maybe notice differences.
You must string racquets at different tensions depending on the conditions, balls, surface, etc. But do you have a “go-to” tension at a foundation level?
Probably around 50lb – not so tight. Like here today (at Wimbledon) I used 47. Yesterday I was using 48. On the clay I was using anything between 48 and 50 – it just depends how hot it is, the surface, all that kind of thing. But I know when I get to the States next week I might go to like 52, because it will be hotter and more humid. Probably the last two or three years (my string tension) has been less and less than what I’ve ever been before.
Do you have different strings in the mains to what you have in the crosses?
No. I think the guys tend to do that more – I was gonna try it out at some point in time but again, being on the grass it’s not really a big deal for me to try that now. But maybe at the end of the year …
What grip size do you use?
4 and 3/8 inches – No.2 for a Babolat racquet. I’ve always used that size, on all my racquets I can remember.
Do you use an overgrip?
Yep. It puts a little bit more thickness on there but again I always do that, so it’s not like that’s changing anything.
How often do you re-grip you racquet?
Just once before every match. I have to do my own grips. I won’t let anyone else do them (laughter). I get new racquets done for every match. I’m pretty much like, this is what I do, this is how I like to do it. I’m very routined in my preparation.
What about vibration dampeners?
Yep, I use one. It’s a little thing from Babolat. I’ve always used one in this racquet. It’s been a long time since I haven’t used one.
Does it make a difference?
I don’t necessarily think that it does physically, but it’s more about the sound for me, and the feel of what it does. I don’t like that ‘pingy’ feeling – I like it to feel really meaty and solid. As soon as there’s a ‘ping’ I’m like, nah, don’t like it (laughter).
When did you last break a racquet?
I haven’t broken one for a while. I’ve probably broken more racquets on the grass than anywhere else (laughter), even though it’s soft and you don’t get any response. One time I threw it at my racquet bag and it hit the corner of the chair. And then it cracked. And I was like, oh my god you’ve gotta be kidding. The last time I broke my racquet during a match was probably three or four years ago. A long time.