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Roland-Garros 2022 – The broken rackets of Paire, Fognini or Kyrgios: how do brands manage these overflows?

Roland-Garros 2022 – The broken rackets of Paire, Fognini or Kyrgios: how do brands manage these overflows?
Written by madishthestylebar

I played my whole career with Head, they never gave me the number of racquets I had broken. From a very young age, I broke a lot of racquets. I had been with Head since 1998 and they were downright tolerant of me. I broke more or less 80 racquets a year. I got on so well with them that at the end of my career they gave me a present. A snowboard. On it they had written 1055. For me it was a surprise because I didn’t know how many rackets I had broken. Now I know“. And us with it.

If the debate concerning the Greatest of All Time can be heard, that on the greatest breaker of rackets in history, much less. Marat Safin is the indisputable and undisputed king in this field. And if the anecdote makes you smile, not sure that this benevolence is still on the agenda at Head.

Marat Safin destroys a Head racquet in 2007

Credit: Getty Images

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In Acapulco, it was one of their current stars who gave a publicity stunt that the Austrian company would have done well. By completely freaking out against the referee and putting his nerves on his racket, Sascha Zverev has drawn the wrath of the circuit. “It’s just dumbestimated our consultant Mats Wilander. I find that breaking a racquet on a court is the worst attitude possible because most kids will not be able to buy another racquet behind“.

Justine Henin had even stronger words, evoking “unacceptable pictures” on our set by putting in the same bag Zverev, Nick Kyrgios or Jenson Brooksby. “Should we wait for someone to bleed?”, had even outbid a John McEnroe, yet renowned for his excesses at the time.

For Hénin, some players go too far: “There is an unacceptable escalation”

If the ATP reacted in the most extreme cases, sometimes quite lightly, especially for Zverev, the body is not the only one to be sorry for these excesses. Because for brands too, managing these emotional outbursts is tricky. “Breaking rackets, in the background, it’s not acceptableadmits without concession Jean-Christophe Verborg, director of competition at Babolat. Behind these racquets are working men and women, so to break a racquet is to disrespect their work and the brand.“.

Breaking racquets is always a problemwhispers our consultant Alex Corretja, a little sheepish when coming back to his career cracks. For my parents, the priority is education, respect for others and for oneself. Of course, I have broken rackets myself. There was a period when I was more anxious, more nervous. And you end up getting used to it… You know you have between 10 and 12 racquets with you so if you break any, your equipment supplier will have to deliver new ones to you”. Is there a limit?

In all contracts, the annual quantities of snowshoes are definedreplies Jean-Christophe Verborg. Without even talking about broken racquets, some consume more or less. For example, Rafa will change five to six times a year and each time we send him sets of 8 racquets. Carlos Alcaraz is a bit like that. We are on reasonable quantities. In contracts, these are never unlimited quantities.” To avoid pushing to crime, no doubt.

Letters and sanctions

In the case, everyone has their own method. In 2017, the Japanese brand Yonex, exasperated by the excesses of Nick Kyrgios, had instituted a clause in the contract of its players, with salty fines. Add the sanctions from the ATP (the sanctions start at 500 dollars for these facts) and the bill can quickly climb. Since then, the Kyrgios case law has made its way. “There may be penalties, there may be letters sent, which are not threats but explanationsconfirms Jean-Christophe Verborg. But we will always favor dialogue.”
The particularity of the Lyon brand lies in the wide gap between its players: on the one hand Rafael Nadal, the man who has never broken a racquet in his career, very respectful of the equipment developed by Babolat. On the other, Benoît Paire and Fabio Fognini, gender specialists and repeat offenders for many years.

What is annoying is the recurrencebelieves the brand’s competition director. At Babolat, we have two players who are a bit complicated to manage. They are much less so because we tried to explain to them all that breaking a racquet meant to us. It’s not good for the people working behind it, it’s not good for the Babolat fans either. We’ve been getting messages about all this: ‘Why are you keeping this misbehaving player?’ It’s embarassing. So we have set up ethics committees at Babolat for players who have experienced recurrences to know what to do.”

Pair in factory field internship

As a result, Paire was entitled to a short visit to the company, in the Lyon factory, to see the work required for the manufacture of its tools. “We made him place an order, prepare boxes, put his rackets inrewinds Jean-Christophe Verborg. And today, we favor this method even if there will always be a yellow line not to be exceeded.”

Benoît and Fabio, to know them for many years, are adorablehe continues when explaining this human method. It happened to me to say to Benoît: ‘I don’t understand you’. He is someone sensitive, full of blood, whole, someone for whom we have a lot of affection. When he came to Lyon, he was appreciated, he devoted time, apologized, repeated that he was aware of all this.”

So aware that the Frenchman even accepted a staggered campaign for April 1. We see the two turbulent from Babolat with a racket surrounded by polyester foam, “unbreakable” according to the legend. “It is obviously not trivial to choose these two players. It’s funny because, during the shooting, it made them laugh, but there were a lot of people and when the person presented the idea to them, I’m not going to say that they were uncomfortable but they laughed while saying to themselves: ‘Yeah, we are aware that it is a concern…'”, says Jean-Christophe Verborg.

He assures him, since this dialogue and this spot, the two players are much wiser with their equipment. The images of the skids of the two men have indeed been rarer for a few months. Will they manage to have a snowball effect on the rest of the circuit? Not sure. Especially since if some had the good idea to transform these broken rackets into collectibles for charity, others saw it as a flourishing business like any other.

In 2019, the racquet destroyed by Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final against Naomi Osaka sold for over $20,000 at an auction in New Jersey. It was first offered by the American star to a match ball boy, who got rid of it for 500 dollars. After the bad behavior, the bad calculation…
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