THE BREAK: Carla Suárez Navarro welcomes twins during Roland Garros


**Price: $200
Weight: 14.3 oz. (men’s 9); 13.8 oz. (women’s 7)

Size Run: 7-13, 14 (men); 5-11 (women)**

What’s New

After garnering a loyal following in the running community, On has thrown its hat in the tennis shoe ring. Adding a major brand is exciting in itself, but the fact that On calls Roger Federer an investor and collaborator on its wears has the tennis community buzzing. Being its first mass-market offering, everything about the Roger One is novel. It’s constructed with a supportive mesh upper, midfoot cage for shoe integrity and a carbon fiber Speedboard in the midsole for stability and energy return. For the clay model, the outsole comes with a full-length herringbone pattern that’s engineered for clay courts.

What Works

On shoes are known for their comfort, and the Roger One lives up to that reputation. The vamp and toe box of the upper are primarily soft mesh, which gives the shoe an almost immediately lived-in feel. A padded and ventilated tongue adds to the plushness.

The cut of the shoe is rather roomy. There’s ample space in the forefoot to spread the toes and feel the court on contact. Reaction to this feature will probably be user dependent; players with wider and flatter feet will probably appreciate the extra space to operate. The lacing system is also reasonably effective at creating a locked-in fit, with a “garage” strap to help lockdown the laces during play.

On Roger One

On Roger One

The wider forefoot also gives a stable base, which is aided by a lateral flange on the outsole. The midfoot cage helps stabilize the foot and keep the shoe’s composure during explosive movement. The carbon fiber Speedboard adds to the support as well as a spring into each step. This combination of features make the Roger One a rather secure and dependable lateral mover.

Players accustomed to On’s running shoes, won’t find any of the brand’s signature Cloud technology. The midsole cushioning is rather dense and more minimalist, without much bounce. It’s also dense in the heel and forefoot. The upside is it keeps the foot closer to the court and more responsive, which is what’s needed for the side-to-side action on a tennis court instead of just straight-ahead running.

In the spirit of the season, the Clay version of the shoe was sent for testing. The principal difference is the full-length herringbone pattern; it covers more of the midfoot—almost the entire Speedboard—than the all-court model for additional traction. The outsole tread opens up at the toe to push the clay through for smooth transitions from sprint to a slide. Using it on the softer surface will also spare the shoe the durability issues that have been reported on the all-court model as well.


Roger One clay outsole

Roger One clay outsole

What Needs Work

Legend has it that Federer has unusually flat feet. And if true, these shoes certainly reflect that characteristic. There’s simply not much arch support. If you’re someone with higher arches—as I do—it’s a real problem. Personally, I couldn’t compete in these shoes long-term, as a lot of scrambling can noticeably strain the feet and calves. Given the roomier cut of the shoe, swapping in a more supportive insole or orthotic could be a possibility. However, at this price tag it’s fair to want a finished product.

In addition to support issues, the width of the shoe can also make it difficult to get a locked-in fit. The lacing system is fine, but the shoe can still hang off a narrower foot, which robs it of some its responsiveness. This gives the shoe a chunkier and heavier feel than its weight.

And your mileage may vary on the laces lockdown strap. It adds an extra step to the tying process, flaps around when it unsnaps and has questionable benefits. From an aesthetics standpoint, some playing partners liked the additional signage it also brings; others thought it was unnecessary and unathletic looking.

Bottom Line

Like the man it’s named for, the Roger One is rather unique, with a cut clearly suited for players with wider and flatter feet. It would be nice if future releases have more universal appeal, but it’s nonetheless a solid first effort from On.