Actually, it’s not the number of strings in his racket that’s contributed to Rafa’s numero uno spot in tennis but the type of strings he uses. Rafa employs high-tech copolyester strings, which help him put tremendous topspin on his shots.
The efficacy of these strings was proven by researchers using a camera that shoots at the amazing rate of 10,000 frames per second. The ultra-high-speed exposures showed that copoly strings slide with the ball and snap back as the ball leaves the racket thereby transferring more energy to the ball and giving it more spin.
Aussie physicist Rod Cross found that because copoly strings are slippery and stiff, they generate not more friction but less. Friction was once thought to be responsible for spin, but the reverse turns out to be true.
What a difference these strings are making in tennis. As Nate Ferguson, the stringer and racket techie for Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Soderling said recently, “A ball lands on the baseline, rises just 18 inches, and Rafa sends it rocketing back looking like it’ll hit the back fence, but the copoly strings bend the ball down to land on his opponent’s baseline for an untouchable winner.”
Nobody’s saying that it’s just technology that makes Nadal so good – he’s very strong, a terrific athlete, and would be a fine player even if he used a frying pan – but it does make you wonder just how many slams somebody like Laver would have won had he had access to a big-head, graphite-and-tungsten Babolat Aeropro loaded up with Isospeed’s Axon Mono 16L copolymer strings.