Tennis / Wimbledon '93: Things come to a Head for Agassi

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The Independent Online
IN addition to a dodgy wrist and elbow, Andre Agassi will risk defending the Wimbledon title with a new Head. The American has switched rackets, hanging up his Belgian Donnay and signing a 'major new contract' with the Austrian manufacturer, writes John Roberts.

Changing rackets can be a tricky business, a transition fraught with technical and psychological problems. Agassi discovered this in 1989 when he forsook Prince for Donnay. He experienced such difficulty adjusting to the new weapon that for a while he reverted to the Prince.

Head rackets are used by Goran Ivanisevic, who was beaten by Agassi in the Wimbledon final last year. While practising with Ivanisevic before playing at Wimbledon in 1990, John McEnroe asked if he could try one of the Croatian's rackets. McEnroe, who had been out of the game for four months because of a shoulder injury, was obsessed with the increasing power in the game.

He borrowed some of Ivanisevic's rackets for the championships and used them instead of the Dunlop with which he had won the singles title three times. McEnroe lost in the first round to Derrick Rostagno.

During the 1987 French Open, Martina Navratilova convinced herself that the secret of Steffi Graf's forehand lay in the German's Dunlop racket. Though under contract with Yonex, Navratilova ordered a consignment of Dunlop rackets and used them instead. She lost to Graf in the French final, but defeated her at Wimbledon. The Yonex flourished when Navratilova won her record ninth Wimbledon title in 1990.