Question of the Day: Guga Kuerten, Luxilon Man
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Do you know what Gustavo Kuerten was stringing with when he won the French Open for the first time in 1997? Was he already using Luxilon, or did that come after? What brand of Luxilon, and at what tension?—Fred L.
According to the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association’s pro equipment logs, when Gustavo Kuerten won Roland Garros in ’97, he was already stringing Luxilon. More specifically, the USRSA states that Kuerten was using Luxilon Original (1.30mm), at 57 pounds in a Head Pro Tour 630. Kuerten would continue to use Original up until the early oughties, when he switched to Alu Power (1.25mm). He’d stay with Alu Power, and would continue to string in the mid 50s until retiring from the tour in 2008.
What you might be thinking: Yes, 57 lbs. is stringing it rather tight for a monofilament, especially a first-generation like Original, which plays with much less forgiveness than today’s softer co-polys. (The Pro Tour 630 also had an 18 by 20 string pattern, which would make that 57 lbs. play even tighter.) But recall, it’s only been in the last few years that plebs like us have realized that monofilaments, for most, perform best at lower tensions (low 50s, high 40s).
Interesting story: Back last March, at the Sony Open in Miami, I had the opportunity to attend a press conference held by Kuerten, and luckily was able to throw in a Luxilon-related question. “You played with Luxilon string,” I asked. “What do you think it did for you and for the game?”
Kuerten swayed his head a few ticks and started making counting motions with his fingers. “Three French Open, one Masters Cup,” he said. Then a mischievous grin crept up on his face. “I remember [a] little farther on, 1999 or 2000, that Agassi was complaining. If he could not adapt himself to play Luxilon, he would ask [the] ATP to forbid this string because he could feel it not so good, but sometimes it doesn’t [fit] your game.”
Thus spoke Kuerten, harbinger of the Luxilon game.