“Genius is not replicable. Inspiration, though, is contagious, and multiform — and even just to see, close up, power and aggression made vulnerable to beauty is to feel inspired and (in a fleeting, mortal way) reconciled.” David Foster Wallace, in his essay, “Federer as Religious Experience,” wrote of Federer, in the context of Wimbledon. The essay concludes that Federer’s impact on the game is best seen at Junior Wimbledon, where youth aspire to imitate the legend’s game. And though Djokovic has taken over as world number one, there’s still plenty of inspiration floating over the courts. So, if you follow the impulse to rise, grab a racket, and hit the fuzzy ball around the court, you are — in an elevated sense — participating in tandem with the greats on the court. Or, at the minimum, you can swing a racket bearing the same brand name.
Wilson Ultra 100
Best All-Around Racket: Designed for excellent feel from any corner of the court, the Ultra 100 is a shock-dampening, power-boosting, spin-generating miracle. If you tend to be a complete player — with both power and finesse — this is the racket for you.
Babolat Pure Aero
Best for the Baseline Power Player: If Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga aren’t breaking strings on each forehand, then Babolat is doing something right. The Pure Aero (previously the AeroPure) is a legend in the tennis world, and this latest upgrade — equipped with the “AeroModular2” wing shaft design, to increase aerodynamics, along with better Frame String Interaction Tech, to increase spin — makes one of the best racket even better.
Wilson Pro Staff 97
Best for the Demanding Pro: This is Federer’s racket of choice, and a longtime favorite of tennis aces the world over. For the player who will only wield the best, this is the racket.
To measure your grip, take a tape measure or ruler and plant it vertically in the middle crease in your palm. Measure to the tip of your ring finger (see here). “Normal” grip size is 4 3/8 inches, but everyone varies. Also, when in doubt, err on the side of the smaller grip size. You can always add an overgrip to a smaller grip, but you can’t whittle down a grip that’s too large.
Head GrapheneXT Radical Pro
Best for the Aggressive Player: Carried by Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, Head rackets are currently equipping the top players in the world. Part of their advantage is Head’s graphene technology, which Head claims increases racket strength by 30 percent. Obviously, strength can have its downsides, but if you’re out there to smash like Thor, this is your hammer.
Best for the Amateur: Made with a combo of titanium and graphite, for a balance of feel and stiffness, this is a fantastic beginner racket for someone venturing into the courts for the first time. There’s excellent vibration control, and a forgiving, oversized head with a sweet spot you can’t miss.