Radek’s secret weapon
Originally published on: 30/01/12 00:00
Ask any professional unlucky enough to have played Radek Stepanek during their career and they’re likely to tell you he’s one of the trickiest players to beat.
The Czech right-hander plays awkward, unconventional tennis, taking the ball early, hitting it hard and flat and coming forward whenever he can to finish points with his underrated net game.
With a world ranking of No.31 at the ripe old age (for a tennis player) of 33, the numbers don’t lie. Only last year he captured the fifth and biggest title of his career when he beat Frenchman Gael Monfils to land the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington DC, and now he has added a maiden Grand Slam doubles crown to his collection after he and Leander Paes defeated five-time Melbourne champions Bob and Mike Bryan.
Stepanek is undoubtedly a talented and hard-working professional, but the manufacturers who designed, built and customised his racket of choice – the Bosworth Tour 96 – believe it’s what he has in his hands that has played a large a part in his success.
Stepanek is the latest in a long line of pros to turn to Bosworth, the racket company founded by Warren Bosworth in 1972. Believing that the set-up of a racket is unique to individuals and their style of play, the American began customising frames for some of the true legends of the game – players such as Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert and Pete Sampras – and after Warren’s son, Jay, became chief executive of the company in 1981 the duo used their expert knowledge to create their latest frame, the same Bosworth Tour 96 that Stepanek has been swinging since 2008.
The Bosworths employ a simple approach. Rather than flooding the market with a number of different frames, they have just one racket available which they customise to suit an individual’s playing style – whether they are a touring pro or a club standard competitor…