Sam Davies speaks to the company behind a latticed tennis racket dampener, developed with 3D printing technology.
It’s September 2013 and a felt-covered rubber ball is being zipped back and forth across a tennis court by what is now considered to be the two most successful men to ever play the sport.
Inside the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Rafael Nadal crashes a 100+mph serve down to Novak Djokovic’s lefthand side, only for the Serb to return with a double backhand. Fifty-two more shots are knocked back and forth, with only the occasional sliced dropshot breaking the succession of grunts and thuds as the pair compete in one of the sport’s most famous rallies.
Those grunts stem from two fierce competitors harnessing every bit of their strength to overcome the other, but the thud emanates from a tiny piece of silicone rubber clipped onto the lower central strings of the rackets.