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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Taking a closer look at Roger Federer's new racket

http://youtu.be/dTTkZVCpVt0

The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Video: Get to know 19-year old Canadian Genie Bouchard.

• Examining Roger Federer's new prototype racket, about which, Tom Perrotta writes, "For the super-polished, near-perfect winner of a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, this is as close to a midlife crisis as it gets."

Federer hasn't divulged many details about the racket, other than that it is made by Wilson, his longtime racket sponsor, and has a 98-square-inch head, 8 inches larger than the Wilson Pro Staff he has played with since 2002. Federer is still testing the frame and hasn't committed to playing with it full-time, and it might be modified further.

"It's a prototype," Federer told reporters at a tournament in Hamburg this week (he reached the semifinals with a victory Friday). "I'm happy I did the change and we'll see how it goes. So far, so good."

Jon Muir, the general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports, said the new racket is based on Federer's requests and feedback from previous tests, and stressed that the process is far from over: Federer could still reject it, and the racket doesn't even have a design or color scheme (like all test rackets, it is black, so the design doesn't influence the tester's perception). Muir said the racket is not a Wilson Blade 98, as some online gear gurus have guessed. It was made in Wilson's Chicago lab.

"It's not something we are currently producing and selling to customers," Muir said.

• Douglas Perry on why it's difficult to proclaim Serena Williams is the greatest ever. As he writes, being better than Venus meant more to her than being better than the rest.

Once she had defeated Venus in four straight major finals in 2002-03, she believed -- consciously or not -- that there were no more tennis mountains to climb. She was determined to be the best in the world, and that meant being better than Venus. Beating Henin or Clijsters or Davenport just wasn't the same. It took her years to realize that sustained success on court could still matter in the post-Venus era that she had brought about.

Forced to sit and think while healing in 2011, Serena realized that the game will indeed go on without the Williams sisters. And, at the same time, that no matter what she does with the rest of her life, she will be remembered first and foremost for her tennis. And so she decided she would close her career by giving the sport her all.

• The first team for Hopman Cup has been announced: Marion Bartoli and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will represent France. Are we really confirming teams for Hopman Cup already? This year is just flying by.

• A good look at Foot Soldiers of Tennis on the new ATP event in Bogota, which replaced the tournament in Los Angeles. Attendance was poor.

• Richard Evans for 10sBalls.com ranks the fittest players in the history of tennis.

• Non-tennis: Sports on Earth looks at Rory McIlroy's ability to laugh about his disastrous slump.
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