The long awaited Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph finally shows its true colors. For over a year, people were wondering what Roger Federer's racquet would actually look like and what the specs would be. We'll here you have it, co-designed by Roger himself! It features a strung weight of 12.5 ounces, 12-point head light balance and a hefty swing weight of 337. Nearly 1.0 ounces heavier than the new Pro Staff 97 and 1.8 ounces heavier than the Pro Staff 97L, the RF 97 is not for the faint of heart. Wilson also continues the tradition of using Braided Graphite and Kelvar to the frames fast moving yet durable. Countervail technology is added into this line giving the racquets a lighter weight feel and allowing players to play longer.
Almost instantly upon grabbing this racquet you could feel its heavy weight. With its 16 x 19 string pattern, I had no problem at all in generating either spin or power when I needed it. Wilson’s claims of the new Pro Staff series providing more power and a larger sweet spot definitely hold true with this latest evolution of the Pro Staff line. Before hitting with this racquet, I felt comfortable just holding it in my hand, and as I began to hit, my level of comfort only increased. Even slightly off-center shots, felt solid as the weight of the racquet drove through the ball. Whether I wanted to power through the ball or put plenty of spin on my shot, the RF 97 had no problems delivering.
Although volleying is not the strongest aspect of my game, I felt at ease at the net with the RF 97. The extra mass of the racquet allowed me to use less movement of the racquet in my volleys without losing any pace or depth. That being said, the extra mass does come at the price of making the racquet less maneuverable at net.
Serving with the RF 97 was fantastic. From the first serve I hit with it to the last serve, I felt comfortable placing my serves, adding spin or going for a big serve up the T. Just like with my groundstrokes and my volleys, the extra mass combined with the balance of the racquet played a key role in allowing me to add either spin or power when I needed it. Through this balance, the control that I came with this racquet on serve was quite impressive. I believe that the Wilson NXT that we had this racquet strung up with played a key role in control of this racquet.
Overall I would have to say that this is one of the most solid racquets I’ve hit with. I have owned and played with several Pro Staffs in the past and the RF 97 Autograph has surpassed my expectations. With the help of Roger Federer in the design of this racquet, you can really feel that the classic feel of the old Pro Staffs is starting to re-emerge. The addition of Countervail technology truly makes a difference in the feel and comfort. I will definitely be adding a few of these racquets to my collection in the future.
About the Reviewer: Alex Meyers is a graduate of the Professional Tennis Management Program at Ferris State University in Michigan. He is also a USPTA Professional, PTR Junior, High Performance and Adult Instructor as well as a USRSA Master Racquet Technician. He has also strung for the Italian Fed Cup Team.