Tennis Expert & Columnist
Mark Petchey salutes Roger Federer's bravery in changing racquets after Cincinnati win
'Swiss champion has learned from Pete Sampras' mistakes'
Last Updated: 18/08/14 1:13pm
Roger Federer’s larger racquet used to defeat David Ferrer in the Cincinnati Masters has been a “game-changer” according to Mark Petchey.
The Swiss veteran has enjoyed a return to form culminating in Sunday’s Masters victory – the ideal warm-up for the US Open.
Sky Sports expert Petchey claimed: “The racquet, for me, has been a game-changer.
“Pete Sampras talked about how he wished he’d changed and he didn’t, he was too nervous. Roger has had the courage to face his fear and take away the one thing that he has utter trust in and go with this new racquet and I personally feel that’s why we’ve seen him rejuvenated.
“He got the little frame out, he’s got in in the museum, he’s gone for the bigger frame and it’s changed his game.”
It’s incredible, his longevity. And I think that’s because of the undiluted passion he has for the game.
Federer defeated Ferrer 6-3,1-6, 6-2 in the United States to add his first Masters 1000 title since winning the same competition in 2012 and Petchey feels his greatness means that any retirement talk should be respectfully shelved.
Petchey said: “It’s incredible, his longevity, and I think that’s because of the undiluted passion he has for the game.
“I think the [retirement] conversation doesn’t need to be had. He’s earned the right to put that conversation in the bottom drawer and we’ll talk about it when he decides he’s a step slower and really it’s no fun to be out there.
“Why would anybody who loves this game want this guy to stop?
“When are you ever going to see another guy who plays the game this way, as well? You don’t want any of the great players to stop, you want to freeze them, because this is the beauty of the situation we find ourselves in – with a few great players at the top and a few trying to knuckle in – but this guy plays with an elegance that is a throwback. It almost joins up every decade that we’ve had since the Open era with the way that he’s played.
“He was an out-and-out serve and volleyer when he first came to Wimbledon, he’s modified his game to the modern era but yet I still sense than generational join-up with Rod Laver who used to play this game. And that’s why I think he appeals across the masses to everybody.
“He’s left enough indelible images on a tennis court that whichever one you pick as your favourite is how you’ll remember him at the end of the day anyway, regardless of whether he goes on a two-year losing streak and doesn’t win another title.
“He’s still not going to dilute my passion for what I’ve seen over the years of how he’s played this game and the joy that it’s given me to see someone move a tennis ball and compete as hard as he has.”
Petchey also claimed that Federer’s brief decline in form prior to switching to a bigger racquet will not taint his history.
“Nobody remembers Pete Sampras’ struggles from winning Wimbledon in 2000 and going through all those tournaments without winning another one until he wins the US Open,” Petchey said.
“Everyone talks about how he won the US Open in 2002, they don’t worry about the years in between.
“Roger hasn’t even hit that dip but what he learned from Pete – and this is the biggest thing that he learned from the US Open and everyone talks about how stubborn these great champions are – is that was the time to stick that racquet in the museum.”