My name is Jamie and I'm a pro stringer. I've strung at several big events over the last couple of years, including Wimbledon for the past two years (I should be back there again this year).
I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about stringing on tour (provided the information isn't too sensitive) and stringing in general. So, ask away!
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Funny you should mention Li Na. I was thinking early that I've strung for all four women's semi-finalists.
I'm pretty sure Li's racket is an actual PDGT. Lots of female pro's actually tend to use current models and Babolat prefer that as well. Li's racket has cortex, so there is no reason to assume it doesn't have tungsten in as well. No visible lead tape on, but there could be some under the bumper or grip; can't remember if it felt heavier or had a different balance to a stock frame.
I strung for her at Eastbourne in 2009 and she was using Babolat Xcel in a full bed at 63/61 and I think with a 10% pre-stretch. At Wimbledon last year I think she was using a hybrid of Pro Hurricane and Xcel. Can't remember the exact tension, but think it was somewhere around 66/64 with a pre-stretch.
I just started stringing ( Klippermate, 6 rackets strung only) I just got Microgel Radica Pro. Could I use an ATW stringing pattern for this Head racket? I understand that Head recommends 2-piece for their rackets. Thanks!
Round The World means that when doing a racket one-piece you can start the mains at the hoop rather than the throat. The hoop is a stronger part of the racket than the throat. Seeing as two-piece rackets are always done with the crosses starting at the hoop, it also adds consistency, as every racket is then done from the top down.
I don't necessarily think that going with a 1.35 gives Nadal more control. I assume that when he was a junior he switched to a thick gauge to avoid breaking as many strings and has grown to like it. That, combined with how superstitious he appears to be on court and he reluctance to change equipment, are probably the reasons he uses 1.35.
From my experience, most of the pro's use 1.25 polyesters, with Luxilon ALU Power (and ALU Rough), Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour and RPM Blast being the most popular. There are a few players using the thicker 1.30 gauge of the Babolat polyesters and Luxilon Original. Few players use a 1.35 polyester. 1.30 strings are more popular in gut, particularly poly/gut hybrids.
Hey, thanks for doing this AMA jazar! Great idea.
For us US players, is a 1.35 equivalent of a 16 gauge?
Does Round The World stringing take longer? I wonder what my stringer would say if I asked for this. Is it possible to string RTW with two pieces (hybrid)? or is that impossible?
When you are stringing at the pro events, do you actually get much face time with the athletes or is it usually their coach or a runner dropping off the racquets for you? Have you had any good conversations with any pro? Any stories you've heard from other stingers that are funny or surprising?
1.35 is the equivalent to 15L.
Round The World stringing doesn't necessarily take longer if you know what you are doing and are used to doing it. I can recall knocking out a racket that a player needed on court at Wimbledon last year; used RTW and did it in about 12 minutes.
It is possible to do certain RTW patterns with hybrids. I've been meaning to experiment with this. You would have to miss out the last main on each side and tie off. The start the crosses using a starting clamp, go down and do the missing main on one side, then do the bottom cross, come back up and do the other missing main then string the crosses as normal. I wouldn't really advise this as its quite tricky and you have to be careful about weaving the first and last cross certain ways depending on the string pattern.
There are some players who only ever get a coach or someone on their entourage to bring their racket in. Others bring the rackets in themselves and are happy to have a little chat (though its usually about their racket and not, say, about their personal life). I did have a chat with Marin Cilic when he came in at Queens last year, though I scared him off by telling him I was four days older than him. Alexandr Dolgopolov and his coach are fun to talk to (particularly his coach, who seems to have a thing about being politically incorrect). There are quite a lot of other players (not necessarily top 100) and coaches that I've spoken to, but the conversations with the better players tend to be about their rackets and strings. I did have an argument with Greg Rusedski about his racket and he got quite annoyed so I backed down.