Plenty of gut, little glory for Wimbledon stringers

Wed Jul 1, 2009 1:39pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - After supervising around 3,000 re-strings during the Wimbledon fortnight one might think Roger Dalton could put his feet up with a bowl of strawberries on Sunday and watch the men's singles final in peace.

Not a bit of it. The grand slam tournament's head racket stringer will be poised next to his machine, fingers twitching, primed for action.

Last year when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal contested arguably the best final ever witnessed at Wimbledon, Dalton was the man keeping the Spaniard Nadal supplied with rackets.

"I was Nadal's stringer in last year's final," Dalton said from his busy office next to the practice courts.

"I did six for him in the morning, then after practice he sent some back again to be re-strung and during the match I did three for him.

"I was probably more stressed than he was. You're under pressure, the whole thing is going on out there and I was the only one working. Rafa has a habit of sending stuff back during the match which can be quite stressful."

Dalton and his large team of stringers can turn around a racket in about 15 minutes when pushed.

"Unless we have to we don't re-string rackets fast because we go for quality and a quick re-string is not generally a good re-string," he said while putting the finishing touches to a shiny white frame belonging to Serbia's Novak Djokovic.   Continued...