It was October 2nd, 1977. Location: Aix-en-Provence, France. Tennis history should be written that day. In the Finals of the tournament, Argentinean Guillermo Vilas facing Romanian Ilie Nastase, who was number eight in the world rankings at the time. Vilas had nothing to worry, the title favorite was unbeaten for 53 consecutive matches in a row on clay. But that day, a revolutionary double-string tennis racquet would bring him to his knees. Five years before the memorable match at the Aix-en-Provence Finals, horticulturist Werner Fischer, a passionate tennis player and member of the TC Grün-Weiß Vilsbiburg in the Landshut district, is sitting in his gazebo, tinkering with a tennis racket and still has no idea of the huge vortex, that he would trigger with his invention in the world of tennis. At this point, there was still no standardization regarding tennis racquets, so their historical development already included different materials and different types of stringing. The aluminum racquets, which were now established on the market, made it possible - in contrast to the wooden racquets - to have a more flexible stringing of the tennis racket. Fischer, who liked to devote himself to manual work in his free time, had now experimented with the newly found stringing variants and landed a coup from which his club friends also benefited in the first place. His invention would later go down in tennis vocabulary as the spaghetti strings, Vilsbiburger, or Werner Fischer stringing. The Vilsbiburger or "Fischerpatsche" - these are plausible names - refer to their place of birth and the name of their inventor. In order to understand the background of the third nickname, a look at the optics of the covering helps.
Several racquets of the Berlin Tennis Gallery with Fischer stringing
Back then, Fischer's motivation was primarily to create the greatest possible spin for the ball. To do so, he strings the main strings twice and threads five simple cross strings through them in the space in between. The cross strings are not interwoven with the vertical strings, as it is required today. Fischer attaches the intersections of the cross and main strings with small, hollow plastic tubes that are reminiscent of spaghetti noodles and actually have the desired effect. Extreme spin is generated even on harmless shots, which consequently gave an advantage to less good players.
Surprisingly, the team is promoted to the Bundesliga The players in Fischer's home club are enthusiastic about this groundbreaking innovation, some have the strings put on immediately - with success: the team is promoted to the Bundesliga. The news about the miracle stringing makes waves internationally, and more and more players are having their tennis rackets strung spaghetti-style in the small town in Lower Bavaria. Much to the displeasure of their opponents, because the trajectory of the ball turns out to be unpredictable and stubborn.
The near-revolution comes to an abrupt end It is precisely this unpredictability of returned balls that enraged tennis ace Guillermo Vilas in the 1977 final in France - opponent Nastase competed with such a spaghetti racket (Adidas ads660). After two lost sets (1: 6, 5: 7), Vilas angrily and frustrated throws in the towel and stomps off the pitch. "I didn't lose to a player, I lost to a racquet," he said angrily after his capitulation.
Tennis Association bans the racket After the game, the International Tennis Federation intervened, not least caused by massive protests from Vila's coach Ion Tiriac, and took the necessary action. The spaghetti strings that drove the contemporary top favorites in tennis to desperation were banned. In addition, the association established a definition of what makes a tennis racket and what conditions it must meet. Original racquet from 1977 by Ilie Nastase in the Berlin Tennis Gallery Werner Fischer's stringing pattern is no longer used on the pitch; instead, the original Adidas ads660 played by Nastase in the 1977 Final can be watched today at the Berlin Tennis Gallery. It was Werner Fischer himself who donated the testimony to the Berlin Tennis Gallery, along with the only worldwide existing photo credits showing Nastase with his racquet, the tournament director, and Werner Fischer himself after the Final.
Left: Nastase in Aix-en-Provence playing. Mid: Nastase`s Adidas ads660. Right: Nastase after the Final with the Spaghetti-strung ads660, the tournament director, and Werner Fischer himself