GSTAAD: Roger Federer said that he will spend this week at the Swiss Open testing his new larger racquet and will make a decision later on whether to use it in the run-up to the US Open and beyond.
The top-seed, who is playing the ATP 250 clay event at altitude for the first time since he won it in 2004, will play his opening match tomorrow. Federer began testing a larger 98-square-inch racquet last week in Hamburg, reaching the semi-finals before losing to number 114 Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis. He said he needed more time and matches to make a final decision on the prototype model. “So far, I’m happy with this change,” said the 17-time grand slam champion, “But I need many hours on the court to see if this is a good decision.
“I haven’t yet taken the decision on whether to use it in the US [he begins his pre-US Open campaign in a fortnight at the Montreal Masters]. I still need to think it over. “There are players who have experienced problems when they changed racquets, Fernando Verdasco and to some extent Novak Djokovic.” Wawrinka hopes to jump to first Gstaad title Stanislas Wawrinka, fresh from an adrenaline-stoking parachute jump at the weekend, is aiming to win the Swiss Open at Gstaad for the first time at his 10th attempt amid the hype surrounding Federer’s surprise entry.
Wawrinka, ranked 10th in the world and who joined his celebrated countryman in an early Wimbledon exit, said the excitement of having Federer back after a nine-year absence can only help the claycourt tournament in one of Europe’s most elite Alpine villages. “It’s all good for Swiss tennis,” said the 2005 finalist. “It should be a great week.” So great was the extra demand for tickets that 800 seats had to be added to the grandstand on the main court laid over the communal ice rink in the centre of a village whose part-time residents include Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, French rocker Johnny Hallyday and film director Roman Polanski.
Along with Federer, Wawrinka, third-seed Janko Tipsarevic and number four Juan Monaco all received byes into the second round. In opening-day play, Federer’s conqueror in the Wimbledon second round, Sergiy Stakhovsky, was the first of the week to fall, going out to Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. Fifth-seed Feliciano Lopez fought past feisty Czech qualifier Jan Hernych 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, with sixth-seed Mikhail Youzhny defeating Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Spain’s Marcel Granollers knocked out seventh-seed Lukasz Rosol 6-2, 6-4.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.
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