About the 2020 Pro Staff RF97 v13
Born in 1983, the Pro Staff debuted as an oversized racquet with a 110 square inch head size. Shortly after, Wilson adapted the design to the now-iconic 85 square inch head size, a.k.a., the Pro Staff Original 6.0.
The all-black Pro Staff Original 6.0 with it’s bold red and yellow stripes featured the same core technologies you’ll find in today’s RF97, including braided graphite and kevlar and Wilson’s Perimeter Weighting System. Add its heavier weight, extreme head light balance, ultra-thin 17mm box beam with squared-off edges, and you complete the recipe for the original Pro Staff.
Pete Sampras used the Pro Staff Original 6.0 exclusively throughout his dominant career in the 90s. For that reason, it seems fair to attribute the racquet’s massive popularity to his success on the court.
However, as tennis evolved with the sport transitioning heavily toward a baseline game, we saw Wilson use an iterative approach to adapt the Pro Staff to the modern game, and Federer, who’s pro career started in 1998, picked up where Sampras left off to continue the racquet’s legacy.
Federer has used the Pro Staff throughout his entire career, and the RF97 Autograph v13 is the culmination of a close partnership between Roger Federer and Wilson to create a racquet that has played a significant role in helping him maintain his dominance.
What Makes the RF97 Autograph Unique?
The vast majority of professional players, especially those who’ve been around the game for years, play with pro stock racquets.
Typically, these are older retail models of tennis racquets that are customized to meet exact player specifications. Suppose a player endorses a specific model, such as Rafael Nadal and the Babolat Pure Aero. In that case, he’ll have his painted to look like the latest generation, but he’ll be using an older racquet, as is the case with Rafa, who uses the original Aeropro Drive released in 2004.
It makes sense because you wouldn’t expect all of the world’s best tennis players to change their racquets every time a new model comes out. It’s true, some change, modify and update their racquets more than others, but many abide by the adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’
However, what makes the RF97 Autograph unique is that it’s the same racquet and specifications that Roger Federer uses. There are likely some tiny tweaks, including racquet matching, to ensure all of his racquets are identical. However, a signature model is the closest off-the-shelf experience you’re going to find to what a player is using.
For many, the thrill of using his exact model racquet is more than enough to justify the purchase, but there’s a caveat. What works for Roger Federer may not work for you because the racquet was customized to meet his specific needs, which are likely different than yours.
Of course, the racquet could work well for you – it’s all about personal preference, and many players will enjoy its specs.
Pro Staff vs. Blade, Ultra, Clash
The Pro Staff is one of a handful of racquet lines available from Wilson, which can take some time to wrap your head around. Let’s look at how the Pro Staff fits into the mix of their most popular lines.
The Pro Staff line targets intermediate to advanced tennis players who desire mid to low-end power and topspin with a considerable emphasis control, precision, and excellent feel.
As we’ll review in this guide, multiple Pro Staff models are available to appeal to a broader range of players. However, generally speaking, these racquets are the heaviest of the bunch with a stiffness rating that sits between the Blade and Ultra.
The Wilson Blade line is a close relative to the Pro Staff. These racquets offer greater flex giving them exceptional feel, lower power, and solid comfort while placing a greater emphasis on topspin.
Like the Pro Staff, there are various models to choose from within the Blade family of racquets.
Players that desire a high-powered tennis racquet with more generous head sizes loaded with topspin and well-suited for modern baseline tennis will likely find what they’re looking for with the Ultra.
These frames fall on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Blade and are lighter, stiffer, and require players to hit with aggressive topspin to effectively manage their power.
The Wilson family’s newest member is the Clash, which seeks to blend the power of a racquet like the Ultra with the control and precision that you find in the Pro Staff or Blade lines.
However, what makes it unique is that it does so while maintaining an incredibly low stiffness rating for maximum comfort. Although you won’t find ultimate control or power with this racquet, you will find a well-balanced racquet that provides excellent all-around performance.
Check out my full review and playtest of the Wilson Clash 100 to learn more about this super unique racquet.