It’s not a new concept in tennis, when a player changes racquets but is still under contract with another sponsor.
It’s commonly known as a “paint job” – an attempt to disguise a different brand of racquet until the current contract expires, or the financial details are sorted out.
And so, when Amanda Anisimova showed up in Melbourne with a black stick – despite having the Babolat bag very much present – a little detective work was in order.
The “black stick” is the dead giveaway that something is up.
After that, it’s in the details.
It didn’t take much work. Let’s just say that the orange Wilson “butt” cover was a pretty easy giveaway.
Sometimes it’s a little tougher – the size of the head, the grommets, and even at times the paint half chipped off.
The black stick certainly worked for her; this is far from always being the case with racquet changes, which more often than not are made for money reasons.
Anisimova won the “Melbourne Set” tournament. And then she beat Belinda Bencic and Naomi Osaka before going out in the fourth round of the Australian Open to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty.
A lull, then a return
After that, there was a bit of a lull.
And, notably, it was a tough slog at Indian Wells when she up and suddenly retired against Leylah Fernandez.
But the blacked-out stick was still in evidence in the desert.
In Miami, where the American lost her first match to Shelby Rogers …. still, the “paint job” was on display.
But Charleston, the mystery had been unveiled. The secret was out.
Anisimova is playing with the new Wilson Blade, and its very attractive cosmetics were on full display.
She made the semifinal.
The Blade is back Thursday, as Anisimova (3-0 in the head to head) took on a very tough first-round opponent in Aryna Sabalenka in Madrid.