Roger FedererTennis Strings

How Much Roger Federer Pays For Racquet Stringing [Revealed]

The Swiss is one of a select bunch that does not make use of on-site tournament stringers.

When it comes to racquet stringing services, most ATP players make use of the on-site stringers that are provided by tournaments and charge a nominal fee for racquet stringing (set to a maximum of $20/€20 per racquet).

While that is more than good enough for the vast majority of pros, there's a select bunch of players who don't leave anything to chance and want the same racquet stringing week in and week out.

That desire for consistency created the niche market of personal stringing and perhaps the most well known of these firms is Priority One.

The Florida based firm has looked after several top players over the years like Pete Sampras, Tim Henman, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic and John Isner to name but a few.

Meet Ron Yu – Federer's Personal Stringer

Ron Yu Federer Stringer

For the last 15 years, Ron Yu has personally strung Federer's racquets. He strings nine fresh ones before every single match Federer plays with a hybrid string setup of natural gut and Luxilon Alu Power rough. These are all done at Roger's requested string tension and completed with a white overgrip, Wilson stencil, string savers and power pads.

How Much Does Federer Pay For Racquet Stringing?

Federer Stringing Machine

I had long wondered how much Federer pays for this bespoke service. During the Swiss Indoors in Basel, the Swiss television channel SRF spoke to Priority One's Ron Yu who revealed that the package Federer is on costs $40,000 per annum. Also thanks to Brian for tweeting about it earlier this year otherwise I'd never have seen it.

That fee covers him for all four Grand Slams, the Masters 1000 events and some of the ATP 500 events he plays like Dubai, Halle and Basel.

Assuming Priority One were at all seventeen of the tournaments Federer played in 2019 (although I don't think they do the Laver Cup), that works out at $2350 per tournament.

In terms of a percentage of prize money, Federer won $8,716,975 in 2019, which means he spent 0.5% of his on-court earnings on racquet stringing.

Did the consistency and quality of Priority One's work add more than 0.5% to his game? You'd have to think so, and if you asked a player what % importance they placed on strings, I think they'd all be quoting a much higher figure. So should Nate and Ron be charging more? 🙂

It certainly sounds low as a headline figure, but these guys know the market inside out and it's a tricky service to price. There is a fine line between players using a personal stringer and just sacking it off to use on-site stringers instead.

Also, it's probably not a good example using Federer as he was one of the top earners in 2019. Some of their other clients, like Tsonga, spent 3.7% of their prize money on stringing and Raonic spent 3.1%. They both earned over $1 million which is still way above average, so that is a tad more realistic. 

We also don't know what services fall outside the scope of the Gold Package and are billed separately. How readily bonuses are thrown around for tournament wins. Or if Federer covers their travel and accommodation in places like Halle where he's the only guy in the draw using their services which would aid profitably. 

Based on that, is personal stringing a business you'd like to get in to? I'd have to say no. I know from stringing my racquet it's a tough job, harsh on the fingers and it does get repetitive. It's not my preferred model either as you're trading time for money which makes it hard to scale. The minute you put down that stringing machine, you stop earning.

Ten players on the books would give you $400k a year, minus all the travel expenses over the calendar year so not bad but combine that that with the USA taxing worldwide income even if you're spending 200 days a year out of the country it's certainly not a job that will make you filthy rich, but it probably has a few perks from time to time and you do get to sit in Federer's box 🙂

Was $40k higher or lower than you expected? Let me know in the comments.

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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27 Comments

  1. It would be interesting to divide the $40,000 by the number of matches he played at those tournaments multiplied by 9 per match. Then you’d have the per racquet price of the stringing. Since he tends to go pretty deep into every tournament he enters, that’s a lot of racquets. I just did some digging. His ATP singles record for 2019 was 53-10. So, he played 63 ATP matches (does not include doubles or exhibitions). $40,000 divided by 63 matches times 9 racquets per match gives you $70.55 per racquet strung. Sounds pretty inexpensive for a player at his level. But, as you note, it’s not clear what other things he pays them for and what’s included.

    1. It doesn’t sound too much per single string job, assuming the strings are included. Half a gut set plus half a polyester set amounts to what? 35 €? Plus the same for the work? Considering that the total is roughly twice of what you pay at your club for similar material and that most of us has about half the income of Mr. F., I would say it’s fair.
      Hmmm… Something about the above reasoning smells a bit fishy .. and it’s not my socks… 😆

    2. Yeah good idea to break it down further. I think he will get 6 sticks for a best of three actually so slightly less work at the events outside the Grand Slams.

      The gold plan also includes the initial customisation of the frames before the season, so making sure they all have identical specs on the RDC machine.

      Strings, overgrips, racquet bags and power pads included in that figure so trims it down even further.

      It is quite slim margins I guess, but when your competition is a free stringing service provided by the tournament with more than competent stringers it’s prob hard to charge a real premium.

  2. I strung rackets throughout college, you couldn’t pay me enough to do it again, especially for someone that requires such exactness. I figured the guy got more.

    1. I think Ron Yu said in an interview once if he won the lottery he’d never string another racquet so I guess while he doesn’t hate the job it’s not the easiest!

  3. Not a job I would want. Hard on the hands and fingers? I would assume the guy would get a nice bonus at the end of the year?
    I don’t recall seeing Ron Yu in Fed’s box.

  4. I am huge Roger Fan since 2003 onwards… Am also playing myself too… And strings are one of the essential parts, the rackets must be perfectly strung to produce quality shot making… The balance, weight etc everything counts… So Roger is doing an amazing job in this category also…

  5. At first I raised my eyebrows at this price point, but after you broke it down, I agree that it might be a little low. Of course, as you said, your example is Federer, not only the greatest tennis player alive, but arguably the greatest athlete alive. I think we need to understand more about what these packages include. I am inferring that these companies are acting as caretakers for the racquets. They handle the grips, they handle everything, not just the stringing. If you’re a pro touring and you’re making good money; indeed, I think it makes sense to leave nothing to chance. One thing this article didn’t mention is the confidentiality Factor. It’s nice to know that you got a private company handling your equipment. I’m sure the people on the ATP Tour aren’t voluntarily offering info, but still.

    Anyway, this is such a fascinating article, and it is a subject that I knew absolutely nothing about. I had never really even thought about this. Such a cool thing to write about. Thank you.

    1. Cheers. I am not sure if it’s too high or low after writing it, the market must determine the price so they’re probably in and around the right sort of price.

      P1 do all the customisations like grips, adding weight etc. The fee includes prepping the racquets at the start of the season.

      Not a bad point about confidentiality, not sure there are too many secrets when it comes to strings and tension but if you have a new type of string that was helping you, might be advantageous to keep it on the down-low.

    2. Yeah, overgrips, too. Wilson Pro OG is ~2 € / unit, so it’s all adding up.

      A few months back I put an OG on one of my half-my-age practice partner’s racquet because his was all grey and soggy, blargh! I even brought a pair of scissors and made a nice chamfer cut out at the end and taped it very straight so it looked really professional. He asked me how much he owed me. I replied: “you can pay me by making my life a living hell on the other end of the court because I need to learn how to handle pushers like you. hahaha!”)

      By the way, it was a Decathlon/Artengo TA Comfort OG , similar to Wilson, cheaper and way more durable. It’s my current favourite together with Head XTreme Soft.

      (shall I write a post about overgrips?…)

    1. Can you base it on what a player earns? A player earning $200k a year in prize money could use Priority One if they want. I don’t think they can tier pricing based on what players earn…

  6. As I understand it tournament restringing costs are deducted from prize money. Most players have their own string supplied so just a stringing charge. Priority One will also arrange new racquets and ensure that they are matched to specs.

    1. Thanks, just looked further into it, I thought stringing was part of a tournaments overall financial commitment but they actually bill the players directly. Maximum is $20 per racquet on the ATP Tour. $12 at Challenger. So P1 are around 3 or 4 times more expensive.

      As part of the Gold Package Priority One will prepare the racquets for the player, grip changes, weight changes etc. I remember a clip where Federer had just received a new batch from Wilson and handed them over to customise.

  7. Such a fascinating post! Considering not everybody has a personal stringer, it mustn’t be a cheap deal. Surely the package comes with some big extra payment, win bonus etc…
    I wonder what about the off tournament or off season practice? Who does it for Fed? Can he ever do it by himself? I never seen him even doing the grip tape changing like Richard Gasquet does all the time 😆

    1. Yeah good point, I dunno what sort of prize money you’d be wanting to earn before signing up to the service. Not sure who the lowest earner on their books will be this season, even Tsonga won 2 titles despite playing a few challengers.

  8. I worked with Ron at the 1998 US Open stringing for the players. He had just joined JCS, and I came on just for that tournament.
    Really nice guy, and very good at what he does. Those of you who factor in the 63 matches x 9 racquets to determine how much Roger pays per racquet…….the players also have 3-4 racquets freshly strung for their practice sessions. (they will practice on their off days, and always with fresh strings). So in addition to his 7 matches (if he makes it to the final of a grand slam) you have to factor in 10-12 practice sessions. That will raise the total number of racquets strung during the year. And Federer does not pay for his string and overgrips, they are provided to him as part of an endorsement deal. Also, as previous posters have mentioned, Ron’s group also customizes each racquet so the specs of each are the exact same, down to the gram of weight, balance and swingweight. That can sometimes take longer than stringing a racquet, and customization is a very valuable service to a player like Federer.

    1. Cool, thanks for the info.

      Ron Yu said in most cases Fed will practice with his unused racquets from the previous day rather than restring fresh. Assuming he didn’t go through the entire bag in a match.

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