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Bernard Tomic: Me and My Racket

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Originally published on: 22/05/12 00:00

You switched to Yonex sticks this year. When did you play your first match with the VCore98D?
It was at the Brisbane International – my first round match against Julien Benneteau. I used it during my off season training in December and it was good and I liked it. It had more power than the old Head one. It feels like it’s got more control as well. I’m playing well and I’ve got so much confidence with this racket already.

You’re still very young, so how long have you been really interested in making sure you’re playing with the right frame?
Well, it takes a while and can be quite frustrating. You go through the process, you try this and it doesn’t feel as good as the other, then another one comes along… It’s really important to find a good racket and I think once you do you’ve gotta stick with it for three, four years – you can’t keep switching.

How specifically has the new racket helped you?
Definitely more power. I play with a lot of feel so I needed a little bit more power. I’ve always had good control with my hands but now I have power with enough control so I can put balls in spots that have enough speed. It’s also good for serving.

How does it help you on serve?
My rackets weigh around 330 grammes so they’re pretty heavy and they’ve got a good contact point at the top of the racket which helps. The contact point feels good even if you hit it a little bit off-centre, even if you mis-hit. When you mis-hit sometimes using a [90-square-inch] small-framed racket such as Roger Federer’s, it will hit the frame and fly. You seem to get feel even when you mis-hit with this Yonex.

Have you customised it in any way?
Yeah, it’s got the same swing weight as my old racket.

How tight do you string your rackets?
I have them at about 53 pounds and I string them up in gut which gives me lots of feel and which works well with the racket.

Do you experiment with tensions?
Absolutely, I go up, down… different tournaments, cold, hot. In Australia I’ll go 53 pounds, but if it’s a bit colder I’ll go to 51 or 52 pounds. If it’s really hot or humid somewhere – Miami, for example – I’ll string them at 54 pounds.

Vibration dampener?
Rubber band – so something inbetween!

Are you fussy about your grips?
Well, I have a grip that’s slightly longer than normal because I have big hands and it’s important to have a good grip because you need to be able to hold onto the racket!

How many rackets do you take on court?
For a best-of-three-set match probably four or five and at a Grand Slam I’d have six. One or two would be strung at slightly different tensions to the rest. If I needed anything different I’d send one off to get one strung during the match.

How often do you change rackets during a match?
Every 45 minutes – every set, or set-and-a-half. I like to change the strings.

How often do you get new frames? Every three or four months I’d get 10 or 15 new rackets. It’s important to get around 30 or 40 new frames every year.

Any superstitions?
Yeah, I only play with one side of the racket. It’s funny. When I hit my forehand, I make sure my name on my racket is always in the same place. I wouldn’t switch that!

Do you remember your first racket?
It was a Slazenger from a garage sale then I switched to a Prince after three or four months when I got into tennis. Not sure what happened to the Slazenger – maybe it’s still in the garage somewhere!

Are you a racket chucker?
I remember when I was eight I threw my racket across a court, but that was it. I’ve cracked a few – I bounce them. So far, I haven’t abused this one!

Bernard speaks to tennishead in the April 2012 issue of tennishead magazine. Why not subscribe here.

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Tennishead magazine brings you the very best tennis articles, interviews with the great players, tennis gear and racket reviews, tennis coaching tips plus much more
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