Timo and the art of ‘tension’ management

At the RK Khanna tennis stadium, there is a new craze among the boys and girls playing the nationals — they want their racquets to be strung with the same amount of tension that Roger Federer uses. Dutch man Timo van Driel, an Elite Stringing Team member with Babolat, is seen at the tournament with an 'Official Stringer' Roland Garros t-shirt and is a hit with the fans.

While Indian stringers travel around the country for tournaments, this is the first time a professional with a Grand Slam experience has come here. The 24-year-old Rotterdam native took to stringing at home when as a teenage tennis player, he started breaking more racquets than usual. For the past four years, he has been a professional and made his debut at the French Open this year after stringing for several ATP, ITF and Davis Cup events.

The French Open connection also comes with stories from Paris. He proudly reveals that the seven-time winners' racquets passed through his stringing machine in Paris this year. Though Rafael Nadal's demands for his racquets were simple, Driel has come across some quirky ones too. "Tommy Haas has very particular demands. He wants leather pads on the throat of the racquets, uses natural gut only in the centre, marks his own knots for the stringing, not the ones on the frame and if he feels his knot marks have not been followed, all the racquets will quietly come back and you gotta do them again for free," Driel says.

Having strung over 100 racquets on his first trip to India this time, he realised the players here use very high tension. That's when he told them that Federer uses low tension in his raquets so that when they lose tension during the match, there is less impact on the play.

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