© Ella Ling

Smashed racket

Ranking the rackets - who performed best in 2012?


A bad workman always blames his tools but sometimes those tools don’t get the credit they deserve. Well, no more. The Tennis Space has been examining the performances of the rackets used by the world’s top 50 men and women and has found some interesting results. An awful lot has been made about the big four in the men’s game but there is very definitely a big three in the frame game, with Head, Wilson and Babolat dominating the scene in 2012, accounting for 71 percent of players ranked in the top 50.

Wilson, through Serena Williams (twice), Victoria Azarenka and Roger Federer, won four grand slam singles titles while Head picked up three through Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal gave Babolat their lone success.

To make things a little more fun, in an entirely unscientific manner, we have put together a grand slam performance table, for rackets. Offering 50 points for a singles champion, 25 for a runner-up, 10 for a semi-finalist and 5 for a quarter-finalist, here’s what happened in the past 12 months:

MEN:                                                                             WOMEN:
1. Head: 230 pts                                                            1. Wilson: 220 pts
2. Wilson: 100                                                               2. Head: 100
3. Babolat: 90                                                                3. Babolat: 95
4. Prince: 30                                                                  4. Yonex: 35
5. Dunlop: 5                                                                   5. Dunlop: 5
6. Technifibre: 5                                                             6. Prince: 5

If you combine the men and women, Head shade Wilson at 330 points to 320, with Babolat a distant but solid third at 185 and Prince and Yonex way behind in fourth at 35.

Going through these numbers, it also struck me that every player who made the quarter-finals or better of a grand slam singles event finished the year in the world’s top 50. Of course, the points earned for getting to the last eight will push lower-ranked players up the rankings but it says a lot for their consistency and ability to stay fit (and therefore earn points) that they all remained there.

Here’s a breakdown of racket performances in terms of rankings.

MEN:                                                                           WOMEN:
Head:           4                                                              Babolat:    4
Babolat:       2                                                              Wilson:     3
Wilson:        2                                                              Yonex:       2
Prince:         1                                                              Head:        1
Tecnifibre:   1


MEN:                                                                      WOMEN:

Head:           6                                                         Wilson:        6
Wilson:        6                                                         Babolat:       6
Babolat:       2                                                         Yonex:         4
Yonex:         2                                                         Head:           2
Prince:         2                                                        Prince:         1
Dunlop:        1


MEN:                                                                   WOMEN:

Head:           13                                                    Wilson:        14
Wilson:        12                                                    Babolat:       13
Babolat:         9                                                    Head:           10
Prince:           5                                                   Yonex:            7
Dunlop:          4                                                   Prince:           4
Tecnifibre:     3                                                   Dunlop:           2
Yonex:           2
Pro Kennex:  1
Bosworth:      1


In case you are wondering who the “Bosworth one” refers to, it’s weaved by Davis Cup winner Radek Stepanek, who is following in the footsteps of Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova, among others, in using the custom-made frames.

  • Al McBride

    I think Stepanek has recently changed to Head.

    • roy

      True, head speed mp paintjob, mostly likely radical mold

  • Tecnifibre

    It would be nice if the author could spell Tecnifibre correctly.

  • scambers

    Well spotted. Made the change. Thanks

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that Head and Yonex both seems to be victims of a gender gap….Not many women playing Head compared to the men and more women playing with Yonex. I wonder if that has to do with the rackets or something in sponsorship patterns.