Which tennis racket suits you?

Every time I visit a tennis shop to get my rackets restrung, sights of tennis players grabbing a racket from the ‘hooks’ would occasionally come into my vision. Unless my memory is failing me and some unconscious bias is at work, I do not recall seeing such tennis rackets being anything other than the Wilson ones used by Roger Federer, or the Babolat ones used by Rafael Nadal. Given such exposure, I cannot help but think – are these players choosing their rackets because their favourite tennis player is using it? If so, is it not a unjustifiably flimsy reason to base your racket selection on, with less-than-beneficial results in your game? Or does such a choice not matter at all, because you can adapt to whatever craft you are being given?

After some thought and numerous other consultations with people also concerned with the matter, I came to the conclusion that such methods of racket selection are nothing if not feckless, for each racket’s constitution is designed to benefit different ways of holding and playing with it. You may counter with the argument that adaption is not impossible – just look at Rafael Nadal, he wins grand slams with the left hand despite being a natural right-hander! Fair enough, but that line of argument misses the point I am trying to convey – which is that the run-of-the-mill tennis player is one who does not have the time or energy to adapt to a tennis racket at odds with his natural hitting tendencies, and therefore a careful selection of his craft is necessary in precluding the time-costly inefficiencies which would be resulted in if not.

Not too coincidentally, we are announcing a giveaway of a tennis racket – with the winner being able to pick one from a list of 10 tennis rackets. Each tennis racket is different in its make-up and is uniquely used by and suitable for 10 iconic professional tennis players with different techniques and playing styles. Let’s read on to find out which racket is suitable for you, shall we?

Now, the rackets...

Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph

Photo credit: Tennis Warehouse

Specifications…

  • Head size: 97 square inches
  • Weight: 340g (unstrung)
  • Length: 68 cm
  • Unstrung Balance: 12 points Head Light

Notable racket technology...

  • Amplifeel
  • Braided Graphite + Kevlar

What the racket design/technology translate into…

The new Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph has a 26% wider beam (compared to Federer’s Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six One 90), which delivers more power than its predecessor. A larger head size and bigger spot contributes too to the increase in power in this version, and allows for more ease for off-center shots greater potential for rallying consistency. Such increase in strength does not dampen the classic classy feel of the racket, and the touch that results from it. This is so as the amplifeel technology provides an even more clean and enhanced feel in the racket, as compared to its predecessor. A unique feature of this racket (when compared to all the previous many rackets of Federer) is the braiding of Kevlar throughout its entire frame. Kevlar, despite being five times stronger than steel, is extremely lightweight and readily absorbs vibrations. This unprecedented stability for a Federer racket significantly dampens vibrations, contributing immensely to, if not enhancing the feel and touch of the racket.

Who is this meant for...

As mentioned above, the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph is a racket of feel, most suited for players who like to hit their forehands in a way that depends less on the sharp body turn than conventional semi-westerners (which most often means they use a rather eastern forehand grip), or who depends heavily on their net game in the scoring of points.

Babolat Pure Aero Play

Photo credit: Stringers World

Specifications…

  • Head Size: 100 square inches
  • Weight: 300g (unstrung)
  • Length: 69 cm
  • Unstrung Balance: 7 points head light

Notable racket technology...

  • PLAY sensor
  • Graphite Tungsten
  • Active Cortex
  • Aeromodular2

What the racket design/technology translate into…

The Babolat Pure Aero PLAY is most exciting for its laid-in sensor – by putting a sensor in the rackets handle, the Babolat PLAY tracks various aspects of your play and then allows you to upload the data onto your tablet or smartphone easily and conveniently. What is also interesting is the fact that you can share your data with other PLAY users across the globe, including Rafael Nadal! The racket is an improved version of its predecessor in the sense that it has all of the same specifications and features as it, with the enhanced technology giving it more feel, control and precision. The adding of tungsten to the graphite frame provides enhanced stability at the point of ball contact. Such enhanced stability allows for more precision and power in the shots of the user, with less effort needing to be expended. A CDS (Cortex Dampening System) is also placed between the throat and handle of the racket. Such “Smart Vibration Dampening” system distinguished between good and bad vibrations, and allows for greater feel and control upon each strike. Another new feature of the racket, the Aeromodular2, enhances the three above mentioned qualities of the racket by offering an average of 11% less drag than its predecessor.

Who is this meant for...

The enhanced technological benefits notwithstanding, the large head size of this racket immediately cancels this out as one for the ‘feelies’. This racket is ideally suited for play with a radical grip or way that forgoes feel for either power or spin. If you are ‘spinny’ who stereotypically (or typically) uses a Western grip, or (more often or not) a ‘giant’ who likes to muscle through your shots in a rather mechanical way, this Babolat is meant for you. Think Rafael Nadal or Sam Querry!

Head Graphene XT Radical Pro

Photo credit: Stringers World

Specifications…

  • Head size: 98 square inches
  • Weight: 326g (unstrung)
  • Length: 69 cm
  • Unstrung Balance: 6 points head light

Notable racket technology...

  • Graphene XT

What the racket design/technology translate into…

The updated Graphene XT has a 30% stronger material structure that has been made to optimize the racket’s weight to where the player need it most. Hence, the new Graphene XT racket as a 10% better energy transfer, enhancing the comfort of its lucky user in faster games

Who this is meant for…

Crafted in a stick-like style, and very evenly balanced from head to butt in terms of weight distribution, the Head Graphene XT Radical Pro is ideally suited for the heavy-set aggressive baseliner. It is racket for the ‘medium player – if you are one who holds a semi-western grip and likes to spin the ball (but not too much) but more importantly, if you like the groundstroke drives from the baseline, this is your ideal choice for a court weapon. Think Andy Murray!

Head Graphene Touch Speed Pro

Photo credit: Stringers World

Specifications…

  • Head Size: 100 square inches
  • Weight: 335 g
  • Length: 69cm
  • Unstrung Balance: 7 points head light

Notable racket technology...

  • Graphene Touch

What the racket design/technology translate into…

The Graphene Touch is an enhanced version of the Graphene, reengineered to combine the power of the Graphene with enhanced shock absorption at ball contact point, giving the user of this weapon an incredible touch and more pleasing sound. The unique shock-absorbing material added to the frame construction gives less shock due to the quicker vibration reduction immediately after contact with the ball. One must not miss the point that what made these enhancements is the addition of the material Kraibon to the mix of Graphene, or more technically, the seamless bonding of the Kraibon rubber compound to the Graphen fibers. The head of this new racket is also designed slightly differently from its predecessor, making it 5 grams lighter. This small yet significant difference makes for a potentially game-changing increase in possible swing speed – good particularly for off-the-centre points (which not-too-incidentally Novak Djokovic is really good at).

Who this is meant for...

The light weight of the head relative to that of the handle makes this unsuitable for players who like to drive through the ball horizontally (for such players their ideal racket would be something like the Head Graphene XT Radical Pro), but good for players who like to drive through the ball rather ‘vertically’. Such quality of the racket is ideal for players whose forehand is of the wind-shield viper variant – the light top weight being built for very rapid accelerations with moderately angled low-to-high swing patterns. The lesser ability of this in driving is arguably more than made up by the high, penetrative spins that it naturally creates if used in a way that it is meant for, given the nature of today’s game which has become more ‘spinny.’ Stereotypically (or typically), the user of this racket would be one using a forehand grip that lies in the middle of the western and semi-western forehand grips. Think Djokovic!

Yonex VCORE Duel G 97

Photo credit: Stringers World

Specifications…

  • Head size: 97 square inches
  • Weight: 330g (unstrung)
  • Length: 69 cm
  • Unstrung Balance: 7 points head light

Notable racket technology...

  • Tough G Fiber
  • Lock Booster System

What the racket design/technology translate into…

The Tough G Fiber added to the middle section of the racket’s frame allows for more energy to be returned to the ball with each shot, enhancing the drive ability of its predecessor which was lacking in this uniquely resilient material. The Lock Booster System makes for tighter spacing between the upper cross strings (which gives it greater control over its predecessor) and also ridges in the grommet channels (which gives it greater comfort and power over its predecessor).

Who this is meant for…

The stick-like shape of the racket makes it like the Head Graphene XT Radical Pro in the sense that they are both ideal for the players who like to drive through the ball very horizontally, on the forehand and/or the backhand side. What mainly separates the two is the isometric head shape of the Yonex VCORE Duel G 97. This means that the players who are comfortable with the loaded spin that they can easily produce with the Head Graphene XT Radical Pro will not be comfortable at all with the Yonex VCORE Duel G 97, which favors the player who has much flatter forehand strokes. Ideally, the player using this racket should be an aggressive baseliner, one more powerful and less ‘spinny’ than the typical Head Graphene XT Radical Pro user. Think Wawrinka!

Babolat Pure Drive (2018)

Photo credit: midwestsports.com

Specifications…

  • Head size: 100 square inches
  • Weight: 318g (unstrung)
  • Length: 69 cm
  • Unstrung Balance: 7 points head light

Notable racket technology...

  • FSI (Frame String Interaction) Power Technology
  • Cortex Pure Feel
  • Woofer System

What the racket design/technology translate into…

With the FSI Power Technology added to the strings of this latest edition of the speedy and powerful Babolat Pure Drive, power and spin potential is boosted to a level not reached by its less technologically-endowed predecessor. The feel of the racket is immensely enhanced with the Cortex Pure Feel technology, which offers better vibration dampening due to the new material integrated into the graphite of the racket, which allows the user a more direct feel during ball contact, on top of providing a pristine sound to each contact with the ball. Apart from changes in cosmetics and technology, the racket remains the same with its predecessor, thus not losing its DNA.

Who this is meant for…

With a very similar structure to the Babolat Pure Aero, the Babolot Pure Drive is ideal for players who’s ‘tennis feel’ is not feel but spin. This similarity notwithstanding, there are distinct differences between within this subgroup of ‘spin rackets’ that one must take note of when deciding upon one. Along with the different shaft shape the PureAero is stiffer in the hoop at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions and that allows it to provide more spin. On the other hand the Pure Drive is stiffer through the hoop, giving it less spin but more drive. As such, the player who spins and drives, or does both at the same time, should strongly consider this racket. Now you may ask, if other rackets like the aforementioned Head Graphene Touch Speed Pro by definition is ideal for ‘power-spinners’ too, won’t it be a hard tie between both. The answer would be no, because other factors such as power, feel or habitual racket speed would be deciding (which unfortunately cannot be dealt with in this article due to a shortage of space).

Wilson Blade SW104 Autograph Countervail

Photo credit: Stringers World

Specifications…

  • Head size: 104 square inches
  • Weight: 323.18g (unstrung)
  • Length: 71cm
  • Unstrung Balance: 5 points head light

Notable racket Technology...

  • Countervail
  • Braided Graphite + Basalt

What the racket design/technology translate into…

This racket has a unique set of specifications. Firstly, its 71cm length is 3 cm longer than the standard rackets, which apart from giving it an extended reach, creates more leverage and in turn more power. The mighty ground strokes and powerful serves of Serena Williams can no doubt be attributed to in no small measure by this racket! Contributing to this quality of power is the racket’s 104 square inch head. The 323g (unstrung) weight of the racket, despite being a possible burden for less muscled players, gives its user the ability to generate lots of racket head speed and be rewarded with plenty of pop and weight. The most notable technology added to this racket is Countervail, which is incredible at dampening shock and protecting the body from the rigors of play, without changing the feel of the racket. New to this edition too is the braiding of the Basalt with carbon graphite fiber throughout the racket’s entire frame. Basaltic being very elastic, allows the racket’s hoop to flex in ways that improve feel, control and dwell time.

Who this is meant for…

Due to the above-mentioned aspects and qualities of the racket, it follows that it is best suited for the very aggressive base liner. The ideal playing style of the user of this racket would be similar to the ideal user of the Head Graphene XT Radical Pro, except that the user of this Wilson countervail would want to depend more on hard-hitting baseline drives given its lesser versatility from its heavy weight.

Head Graphene Touch Instinct MP

Photo credit: Stringers World

Specifications…

  • Head size: 100 square inches
  • Weight: 314.68g (strung)
  • Length: 68.58cm
  • Unstrung Balance: 4 points head light

Notable racket technology...

  • Graphene Touch

What the racket design/technology translate into…

In this update to the previous GrapheneXT Instinct MP used by Maria Sharapova, the material Kraibon is added to the mix of Graphene. Kraibon is a rubber compound which bonds seamlessly to the Graphene fibers, improving immensely the shock absorbing capabilities of the racket along with its touch. All these qualities are enhanced without sacrificing any ounce of power that this breed of rackets is notable for. The width of the racket beam is altered slightly in this version, vis-à-vis its predecessor, as the 3 and 9 o’clock positions as well as he racket’s tip gets beefed up.

Who this is meant for…

A person who feels good with the Wilson Blade 104 rackets should feel at ease too with this gem. The more uneven balance in weight for this racket though, would mean players who fancy using a more ‘vertical’ forehand swing should choose this over the former. The lighter weight and shorter length of the racket also makes this a the better spin facilitator, in spite of its smaller head size.


Win your favourite player's tennis racket

Now that you have a pretty good idea of which rackets are great for which type of tennis players, how about winning one? Find out more about our racket giveaway. Limited time only!


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