Well, we can credit Roger Federer with another accomplishment: the trend toward hybrid stringing (using two different strings on the same racquet). While it’s been around for decades – the original hybrid setup first used in the 1970’s consisted of gut mains and nylon crosses– it took Roger Federer to introduce it to the “mainstream." The question remains, however: Is it right for you?
Source: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images at 2014 Australian Open
Before a player has a hybrid string job installed, the first question he/she must ask is, “What do I want to get out of this change?” Failure to do so will most likely lead to a bad stringing experience. Most players shift toward hybrid stringing to add durability, though some do choose their string combinations to enhance power, comfort, spin, etc. So, let’s examine some of the most typical hybrid scenarios.
Synthetic Gut Hybrids
If you’re breaking synthetic strings at a rate you (or your wallet) find unacceptable, you might consider hybriding with another type of string. Gamma TNT2 Fusion Plus is a perfect example as it combines two types of synthetic gut strings for increased durability and control. Another option is to experiment with a co-polyester string in the mains, while leaving the synthetic gut in the crosses. This will help with durability, and you’d still have the extra power and comfort of the synthetic cross strings. An example of this setup is Pacific's Power Hybrid.
Most Popular Hybrid Sets
If you’re a poly player who’s starting to get some twinges in your arm, mixing your poly mains with multifilament or natural gut crosses might increase durability while taking the jolt away. You’ll restring more often this way, but your comfort will increase dramatically. Both are highly sought after combinations that many pros use on tour today. Wilson's Champion’s Choice and Babolat’s RPM + VS hybrids are set up for you. If you want more feel and power, but still love polyester, you could take Roger’s advice and put a poly string in the crosses. The playability and comfort of natural gut will give you a little more power, while the poly still gives you ample control.
Another option for those who really like poly would be to combine a softer poly with a stiffer poly. Although not as radical a change, it may prove to give you enough cushion while maintaining a “poly feel.” Some great options are Genesis Tsunami or Head Gravity. Genesis Tsunami combines True Grit 16G and Black Magic 17G to offers improved control and better durability while still being quite comfortable. Head Gravity combines a triangular co-polyester with a rounded co-poly to give you aggressive spin and power without loss of control.
Experimenting with Different Gauges
An often-overlooked hybrid setup is to use two different gauges of the same string, and combining them to increase durability, comfort, or spin. It could work like this: let’s say you love 17 gauge Tecnifibre NRG2, but it breaks too quickly. Instead of going straight to a different string, put a thicker 16g string in the mains, and keep the better-feeling 17g in the crosses. You just might get the added durability you desire without a total change in feel. You can do this with any string that comes in multiple gauges.
Also, you don’t have to buy reels of string to try hybrids. Simply get one set of each string you want to try, and you have two hybrids to string up. Once you find your magic formula, buying in reels may let you get more string jobs per dollar.
So, there you have it: a complete primer for trying hybrid stringing. Unless you arm is so sore that only a full set of natural gut will work, experimenting with hybrid stringing could help you gain an edge on your opponents. Consider what you need to improve your game (i.e. more power, extra control, less worry about breaking strings, more comfort, etc.), and work with your stringer to devise a hybrid that will deliver it. You may find, after a little fun experimentation, that hybrid stringing was the missing piece in your tennis puzzle.