Babolat AeroPro Racquet Playtest

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by TW Staff, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. Doubles

    Doubles Hall of Fame

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    I never use a dampener. It's just odd to me because I can't actually tell where the ball is going when I hit. That's not to say that the racket hits poorly, but I like being able to tell where the ball is going when I hit it.
     
  2. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    Excessive stiffness and an unpredictable stringbed, that is what is preventing me from buying this new APD. I am buying a Vcore Tour 97 instead.
     
  3. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    i found this to be true hitting w/ JGads' playtest APD GT, too.
     
  4. PED

    PED Legend

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    Boricua, come on over to the racketholics thread and we can discuss the new apd stringbed if you like.
     
  5. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    I posted a similar comment already (today) in the racketholics thread. But, will repost with a bit more insight.
     
  6. DrewRafter8

    DrewRafter8 Professional

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    Tennis Experience/Background:
    4.5 USTA Rated Player, was a decent junior an have played/coached quite a bit the past few years. I have not played nearly as much in the past year and a half. Lucky to get out other then for league matches.

    Playing Style:
    I'm an all court player, but I serve and volley behind both my first and second serves. I'm a first strike player, I hit a big serve and attack returns. That's the A game, but I can grind with the best if I need to.

    Current Racquet/String:
    I don't actually have one. I'm transitioning from a 2012 PD that gave me tennis elbow. Have played the past two months with a 350 gram Ti Radical strung with poly and a Donnay Pro 1 16x19. Waiting to demo some of the new sticks for 2013 before I switch.

    Racquet Model Tested: Aeropro Drive

    Hours Tested: Around 5 hours

    Racquet Performance:
    As a former Babolat user, I have used a APDC+ and 2012 PD+ for quite a while. I also have hit with the PD swirly, APDGT, and other Babolat offerings. Honestly, the new APD is a really nice racquet, but it seems to be too stiff for my liking. It seems to be very dead feeling around the upper hoop. After hitting with it for five hours, I have not had any elbow pain. I attribute that more to taking some time off since experiencing elbow pain in August. As far as play goes, here's the breakdown:

    Serves:
    Fantastic, although it is a bit light. The spin serves are excellent and it really whips through the air. I never really could dial in the flat serve to the level that I like to hit. Coming from 330+ gram sticks to this 313 gram Babolat would explain the majority of the issues there. If I put about 15 grams in it, I think it would be excellent.

    Returns:
    It's light and it can be pushed around a bit. For me, I was able to really be aggressive on second serves by turning up the racquet head speed. Blocking back heavy first serves isn't too awful, but let someone crush a serve and catch it outside the sweetspot. That wasn't comfortable at all.

    Groundstrokes:
    Since I've taught so much tennis over the past five years, I've learned to hit at a decent level with a variety of grips. When I play a match, I'm generally a moderate SW guy on the forehand. I think this racquet really is built for a more extreme grip on the FH. I really liked migrating to a more western grip and watching the ball jump off the court. I had trouble flattening out the ball with a great deal of accuracy. I'm again used to a heavier stick with a lower flex so if it will take me a couple of times out to get this part of my game going. Accuracy was ok, I again have to adjust to the huge power of this racquet. Compared to say the Donnay, I couldn't hit my crosscourt forehand inside the service line with the Babolat with any consistancy.....yet. Backhands were a little bit of a problem. I normally hit a two hander in competitive match play. I hit a one hander with this APD. I don't know if the grip is a bit short, but my big hands would not fit comfortably on the racquet. I wrapped an overgrip up on the racquet and that helped considerably. I hit good backhands, but again it's tough to really reign in the power of the APD.

    Volleys:
    What a pleasant surprise! This APD volleyed very well. Combine the stiffness with the light weight and you have a really nice volleying stick. The problem again was with harder hit balls. If I volleyed a couple of hard struck passing shots, I could see where my elbow would act up. Touch shots were a little iffy, but I think stiffness plus full RPM pretty much sums up that there's just not much touch here.

    Overall:
    It's a nice stick and I think a lot of APD users will like this racquet. It's a much better stick to me then the APDGT. However, I prefer the softer feel of the APDC then the much more solid feel out of the new APD. The real knock for me with the APDC was a hollow feel. This 2013 APD does not have that, but it really seems to stiff to me. I really feel that the 2012 PD is softer then this offering as well. Overall, it's a great offering from Babolat for those who really like the Babolat line up and feel. I would caution anyone who is not really into a stiffer feel on this one though. I guess that is where I find myself and why I continue to look elsewhere from Babolat. Thanks to TW for the opportunity, I'm going to hit a bit more with it and will post any additional thoughts!
     
  7. Francis27

    Francis27 Semi-Pro

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    how is the aeropro drive 2013's stiffness compared to the babolat pure drive 2012?
     
  8. tennisnut09

    tennisnut09 Rookie

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    Please post more of your play test reviews.

    Thank You!
     
  9. JGads

    JGads Hall of Fame

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    Tennis experience/background: On-again, off-again relationship with tennis since childhood until a knee injury and surgery took me away from tennis just as I was getting serious about it on a very good, state-ranked high school team... Gave it up through college, but not long after college I returned to the game and have been playing pretty much 3-4 days per week for the last five years, playing casually and in league play. And overly obsessing about frames ever since discovering the TW message boards.

    Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): Baseliner. Will come in after the occasional approach shot, or to shake hands. I rely on a big first serve to get me a handful of free points every match, and tend to hit with a lot of spin on my forehand.

    Current racquet/string: ProKennex 7G primarily for the last year, along with the PK Black Ace Mid. In the last month, though, I've been playing more and more with an extended pro stock MG Radical MP (231.2). Tour Bite/Nvy hybrid is my preferred string setup in most frames.

    Racquet model tested: AeroPro Drive

    How many hours did you play with the racquet? 10

    Comments on racquet performance:

    -groundstrokes:
    From the first to the last ball, I did enjoy this APD more than the previous two iterations of the frame. The feel is 'cleaner', a bit more refined, a few less hollow vibrations than I recall. BUT: it's still very much an APD, which for me means a very stiff frame that simply does not really flex, and, in the end, has a little bit too much stiffness and power for my taste. The result is a frame that sometimes wows you with its 'get-out-of-jail-free' power cards where you can create great pop and spin even from defensive positions, which gets you out of jams and grabs a handful of points you almost don't feel you deserve ... but that free power also bites me vexingly when I don't expect it to -- a simple block-back can sail long, or a put-away shot where I think I've hit the ball cleanly launches past the baseline. In other words, this frame steals some points for you each match, but it also gives others away that you feel should have been yours. Because I've veered more towards control sticks -- heavier, softer, tighter patterns, lower powered -- this frame remains a bit out of my personal comfort zone. Spin is required to keep the ball in with this one, and it was easy to over-spin it at times where the ball wouldn't pierce the court enough and simply sit up in the other guy's strike zone. Slices were possibly my most vexing problem -- I couldn't seem to keep them from floating, more often than not. A regular hitting partner who also played with the frame figured out how to keep slices low eventually, but I never seemed able. Except for the one day when we played with damp tennis balls. Overall, groundies are big and spinny and absolutely require that spin to keep them in the court. Flatten out your shot just a touch and the ball can very easily shoot long, thanks to the very trampoline-like stringbed -- the ball REALLY springs out of this particular sweet spot when you nail it, a classic Babolat trait, sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.

    -serves: Very solid. That trampoline-like sweet spot that can both help and hurt you on groundies mostly helps in this department, as you can pop heavy serves pretty nicely. Not quite the CRUSHing serves like I'm able to get with some other sticks, probably due to the more even balance, but wasn't difficult to get a heavy-enough serve. Not the most accurate serving stick, but pop is there. As is the spin capability for second serve kickers and slices. Overall, solid at the service line.

    -volleys: Another department, like on serve, where a more headlight balance might give the stick a bit more maneuverability to take it to another level, but just like on serve, can't really complain. Did the job. Pretty stable up there. Though I didn't spend much time on volleys, as I tend to stay back.

    -serve returns: A bit unpredictable. This is where I much prefer the feel and confidence of control sticks rather than pop-sticks like this one. With control frames, I can block or chip back the heaters, the ball stays low, and I can work my way into the point. Or if I get one in my wheelhouse, I can let loose and rip it back, using the pace the server gives you against him. With the APD's big pop, those block-backs or chips sometimes trampoline long or float up for a sitter, and when I get one in my wheelhouse, the server's power PLUS letting loose with this racquet can just be too much and the ball can very easily end up hitting the back fence.

    General reaction/comments on overall performance: For those who already like APDs, this frame will please. It has that classic APD power and spin, with fewer bad vibrations. But although the feel is improved from previous versions, for me it is still MILES away from the softer, fuller, flexier feel of my preferred frames. Other than the Pure Storm line, the feel of Babolats just don't do it for me -- too rigid, too brittle. I also prefer stringbeds that are deader rather than springy, leaving ME to bring the power with racquet head speed, as that gives me more confidence to swing out and rip, and more predictability as well. With the APD, I can hit some huge shots, sure, and they often come from nowhere and surprise me. But that's just it - too often it's a surprise, whether it's the unexpected winner or the unexpected long-ball. I never feel like I know exactly where the ball is going to end up on the other side of the court, which saps some of my confidence to really free up and swing away, which is when tennis is most fun for me.

    A big thanks to TW for letting me be part of the playtest. While this frame isn't quite for me, I still think it will please very many.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  10. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Great review Gads. Really nails it.
     
  11. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    Is this thread over? Been a few days without any posts or reviews.
     
  12. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    They've skipped the country with the loot but the SLO police is in hot pursuit.
     
  13. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, its a good excuse to play indefinitely with the racket, enjoy it and then say its plays so-so.
     
  14. TW Staff

    TW Staff Administrator

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    Reminder to all Babolat AeroPro Playtesters

    Playtesters,

    This a is a reminder that your review comments are due by this Friday, December 14. Failure to post your review on Friday will result in exclusion from other Talk Tennis playtests. Remember to post detailed and thoughtful reviews as this will increase your chances on getting on further playtests.

    Hope everyone has enjoyed the playtest!

    Brittany, TW

    PS- Reminder to return your playtest racquet back to Tennis Warehouse by December 20,2012.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  15. Rock Strongo

    Rock Strongo Legend

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    Where's the key to the DeLorean?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2012
  16. TW Staff

    TW Staff Administrator

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    :) Well played sir, well played!

    Brittany, TW
     
  17. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    Tennis experience/background:
    Been playing over a decade, NTRP tournaments, USTA Doubles League.

    Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley):
    4.5 Aggressive baseline play. I prefer to be at the baseline hitting hard with spin and depth.

    Current racquet/string:
    Donnay X-Dark Red 94 with L-Tec 5s/Os at 46lbs.
    or
    Head YouTek IG Radical Pro with with L-Tec 5s/Os at 48lbs.

    Racquet model tested:
    AeroPro Drive GT

    How many hours did you play with the racquet? 16

    Comments on racquet performance:

    -groundstrokes:
    Initially my impression was that the frame was awfully light and had low swingweight with an even balance. I normally hit with a quick long stroke on my forehand and a slightly compact one-handed backhand. I struggled with finding the mass through the swing resulting in balls in the net. The racquet seemed to have a lower trajectory (which could have been due to the higher tensioned strings) off the stringbed. I felt that I had to swing early to catch the ball earlier off the bounce to find the right zone to clear the net enough. On my backhand side, I had a really hard time coming up with pace, the frame felt too light and I felt like I was rushing to make contact. It felt unnatural and not very smooth. It almost felt like the stringbed was very springy, coupled with the stiff frame, there was very little feel from the frame.
    Finding the spin was also a challenge. I would think the 16x19 would allow me to find easy access to spin, yet, I found I hit with less spin and weight with the APDGT.
    -serves:
    I only played a few sets with this racquet. I really struggled finding my range with any serve with spin. Flat serves were pretty simple, nice and controlled. The flat serves were zippy and not heavy. My opponents were easily able to pick up the flat serves because they were only quick and didn’t have any action on them.

    -volleys:
    Controlling volleys sure, that was easy. But actually making put-away volleys were disappointing entirely. Because the frame is so stiff (for me) and springing, low volleys would pop up and sit for my opponent to put away.

    -serve returns:
    My return is generally my favorite shot and it was with the APDGT. I didn’t have to do much other than time a short backswing and the ball would go back deep. Chip returns were pretty good also. I enjoyed the racquet during returns.

    General reaction/comments on overall performance:
    Because the APDGT is very stiff and light, I struggled. The stiffness did hurt my arm after each session, even though the active cortex was there, I was still sore. The stiffness could be countered with a little more mass in the frame; by not having to swing so fast to get depth that would be good.
    Also, the string pattern would be better if it were opened up a little bit between the first 8 mains (the distance between holes). With a change like that, spin would be easier to come by.
    The only real big change that I felt between this model and the previous APDGT was the active cortex. It dampens differently, but not more.
    Thanks TW for allowing me to playtest.
     
  18. PED

    PED Legend

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    I agree on this point. I see you have the ig radical pro. I had that as well and use the Prestige S now. Head has a lot more openness in their drill patterns in the middle of the bed and also more easier depth and power IMO.
     
  19. Roforot

    Roforot Professional

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    Level & Style of Play: 4.0 Allcourt player. I use a Western FH and flip to an Easter BH for most strokes; continental for slices and net play.
    Tennis XP: Play 50/50 singles/doubles primarily on hard courts. I typically enjoy doubles in USTA matches and get my fill of singles from the local tennis ladder or occasional tournament.

    Usual Racquet: Babolat Pure Drive Roddick (2012) strung w/ multifilaments at 50-55#

    Model Tested: Babolat AeroPro Drive (2013) strung w/ Xcel 16g. (Racquet tension measured to be 51# by Racquettune app)
    Testing Modalities: Singles, Doubles, Wall, Ball Machine, Clinic, and of course serve practice. Total time was 15 hours.

    General Reaction:
    The racquet is geared to a different style of play than what I typically employ but it was a blast to use. I like to stay on the baseline and drive through shots looking for a short ball I can either put away or follow to the net. I lost a set pretty quickly before I thought about how I've seen other good players use this racquet against me. They typically would setup 5-6' behind the baseline and hit heavy loopy balls. When I adjusted my stance on the court, I found this racquet to be amazing for hitting heavy shots that drew a lot of errors. It felt like I was making the guy return kick serves by the back fence. At the same time, I enjoyed the feeling that I couldn't miss. It may be more than hype but I believe that the shape of the throat on the APD makes the racquet swing best on a more vertical plane than my PDR. If I played primarily singles, I would consider switching to this frame.

    The main negative aspect though is that the frame is too light. My PDR weights 3/4ths of an ounce more. The APD was unstable when I tried to flatten out shots. It was uncomfortable while volleying heavy hit balls. Most important of all, I felt the lack of mass on serves. Placement was good which kept people from blasting return winners, but I rarely forced errors and did not hit any aces. In the last few sessions, I added 8g to 3/9'oclock and 10g to the handle. This improved the volleying but didn't seem to make a difference on the serve. I tried practice serves to see if I could figure this out in a non-competitive environment without luck. I would say this racquet is as good as any though in its weight class.

    I felt the racquet to be a bit more flexible than the PDR 2012. Comfort is excellent (except for volleys unmodified). Touch and drop shots are decent. Despite spending these hours trying to groove the big looping stroke, I found rather quickly, how much more natural I feel w/ the PDR.

    Nevertheless I offer my thanks to TW for allowing me to participate in this playtest!

    Post playtesting: I got to hit w/ a regular Pure Drive a few days after I wrote up this review; I had similar complaints about weight/stability. I suspect if Babolat put out a tour version of the APD, I would be really interested in that frame!
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  20. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

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    Well, time to return the racquet.
     
  21. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    Yes a Tour racket with more mass is necesarry. A racket with Nadals or Tsongas racket specs or similar would be a posibility speciallly for people who dont like or dont know how to customize themselves.
     
  22. Doubles

    Doubles Hall of Fame

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    Here's my final review. Any updates are in bold:

    Background: I played varsity in high school. Now I'm at the top of the ladder on my Universities travelling club team. I'm somewhere around a 4.0-4.5 and I'm primarily doubles player. Semi western forehand, eastern one handed backhand. I love to serve big and come into the net.


    Current racquet/string: Head Youtek IG Prestige Pro, Black Magic full bed, transitioning to a Tour Bite hybrid.

    Racquet model tested: Babolat AeroPro Drive GT

    How many hours did you play with the racquet?: 14 Hours

    Comments on racquet performance:

    Groundstrokes: The APDGT was somewhat jarring at first, although that mostly has to do with the fact that I'm used to a softer racket with a different. As I adjusted though, I found it to be powerful with plenty of spin potential. My groundstrokes seemed to have a change in the height of their bounce, as well as a slight change in pace, although I think that might have just been related to me having a good day hitting. I really enjoyed hitting from the baseline with this racket, although the difference in feel compared to my Prestige's was an odd adjustment. In the end, I could not adjust to the lack of feel that this racket provided. I hit some nice shots, but I could never tell whether or not they were going to land in. Some did, some did not, but I like to be able to feel a connection with the ball when I hit it. I couldn't do that with this racket.

    Volleys: I didn't like the feel, or lack thereof, but the APDGT was stiff enough that I could stick a putaway volley when necessary. If I were to seriously consider playing with this racket though, I would need to hybrid the poly with something softer, as full poly feels terrible in this. Simply using the stiffness of the racket made it good enough to hit volleys, but I never felt comfortable placing them where I wanted to.

    Serves: I liked the free power I seemed to get from the racket, and the spin potential I had on kicks and slices. Babolat frames are just great for serving. Nothing really new here. I could really power the ball on serve. This is pretty much the only place where I felt like I could connect with the string bed.

    Returns: Similar to ground strokes, if I had the chance to set everything up, it was nice, but if I was late, I got jarring feedback, that felt completely different than my HEAD. Same results as ground strokes. Nice power, I just couldn't feel it.

    In the end, I was really not thrilled with the racket. Maybe I was expecting too much coming from a feel and precision oriented scalpel like the Prestige, but the APD felt like a toy to me. Either way, I want to thank TW for giving me the opportunity to playtest this racket.
     
  23. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    No offence to anyone but it would be great to read more reviews from people who are past APD users or ppl for whom these kind of racs are intended. I personally wouldn't volunteer to playtest and post reviews on something like, say, a heavy, closed pattern mid. I'm not sure of the merit of reviews when the reviwer's playing style is so obviously not a great match for the frame.
     
  24. crosscourt

    crosscourt Professional

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    Agreed. We have a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of the playtesters rather than the rackets.
     
  25. djdannyj25

    djdannyj25 New User

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    so true, these reviews are making the racquet sound abysmal even though the complaints are all relative to playing style :/
     
  26. ArliHawk

    ArliHawk Hall of Fame

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    Agree completely. Tried to get in on the playtest, and my current racquet is the 2010 APD. Did not make the cut.
     
  27. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    I agree totally with your statement.
     
  28. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    Except, for a product to be successful in any market, it needs to be looked at from all angles.

    A product can't be great if it's based on a biased review.
     
  29. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    Also true. But, I think the majority of the testers are not APD users. It would be good to include also current APD users to see their thoughts on the new APD and see how it compares to prior APDs they used in the past for a great deal of time.
     
  30. TW Staff

    TW Staff Administrator

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    Final Reminder

    To all Babolat AeroPro Playtesters,

    This is the final reminder that your reviews are due TODAY. Please post your reviews to this thread before the end of the day. Failure to do so will result in exclusion from future playtests.

    Hope everyone enjoyed the playtest!

    Brittany, TW

    PS- Please return your racquet to Tennis Warehouse by Friday, December 20.
     
  31. Doubles

    Doubles Hall of Fame

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    Exactly. It's good to see things from all sides rather than just one.
     
  32. dode

    dode Rookie

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    Ok here is my review. I will say that I have never played with a Babolat racquet before. I have demoed a few along the way, but never really cared for them for various reasons. I gave this racquet a review that was not biased because of these previous demos though.

    Tennis experience/background: Started playing last fall again after about 11 years of not picking up a racquet. Played at 3.5 USTA Nationals last fall and am an above average 4.0 player currently.

    Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): Prefer baseline play, but tested this racquet playing 90% doubles, so not as much rallying as I would normally play since winter USTA season for us is only doubles.

    Current racquet/string: Volkl C10 Pro - Pacific Tough Gut/Genesis Black Magic

    Racquet model tested: AeroPro Drive with XCel

    How many hours did you play with the racquet? 10

    Comments on racquet performance:

    -groundstrokes: Overall were good. With this racquet I was able to produce good pace and spin. I never felt that even though this racquet is light in comparison to what I normally play (around 350 g strung) that it was pushed around on heavy balls. I was able to turn around fast paced balls well in addition to hitting floaters and short balls with authority. In fact, hitting balls with little pace was one thing that I really liked with this racquet compared to my Volkls. I tend to have problems with those balls, but not with this racquet. However, I did struggle from time to time with the weight and being way out in front of balls. The more I played with it, the less of an issue this was, but it still crept up from time to time. Overall I give it an 8/10. I would be interested in playing this racquet with some addition mass and a gut/poly hybrid.

    -serves: In a nutshell, serves are where this racquet really shined. Flat serves were faster than I normally hit, along with getting a higher percentage in. Spin serves were very good as well, but were "different". They had much more of a slicing action as opposed to the very heavy spin kick serves I normally hit. This I would guess has a lot to do with the difference in strings. Overall I give it a 9/10.

    -volleys: Net play is not my strong suit, but I will say this racquet is quite maneuverable at the net. I seemed to struggle more with the touch shots, but not horrible. Solid volleys and overheads were no problem though. 7/10.

    -serve returns: I like to be aggressive on service returns and on the forehand side I could really turn around serves with pace. Backhands I really struggled with attacking like I normally do with a 2 hand top spin return. I hit a lot of them into the bottom of the net if I didn't back off some. I think some of that was just being out in front due to the lower weight. Overall probably 7.5/10

    General reaction/comments on overall performance: Overall I was pretty surprised with how well I played with this racquet. It was a little stiffer than I am used to hitting with, and that bothered my elbow just a bit, but nothing over the top. Also the "bulk" of the frame in my hands was a little strange and distracting compared to my Volkls, but not a show stopper. I would be really interested to see how this racquet would perform with about 20 g of added weight and my normal gut/poly hybrid. I would rate the racquet an 8/10 overall, and probably the best hitting Babolat frame I have hit with.

    Thanks for the opportunity to play test this frame. I hope this feedback helps others, and I am sure this racquet will be a good seller.

    John
     
  33. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    3,661
    Tennis experience/background:
    Age 51, Playing since I was 7 and played in the juniors in Europe and USA. Played Div 1 NCAA (1979 - 1984) and was an Asst D1 coach (1985 - 86) Currently play ITF seniors and current NTRP is solid 5.0, Cat 3 ITN and an FFT rating of 2/6.

    Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley):
    Aggressive Baseliner until my 30s - But since then more and more doubles - i know play doubles 95% of the time now so much more Serve and Volley/All Court.

    Current racquet/string:
    Since September: Wilson Blade 98 (2013 model w/ Amplifeel 18x20) strung with Luxilon 4G mains/ VS or Wilson Gut crosses at 58 lbs.

    Racquet model tested:
    AeroPro Drive GT 2013 strung with RPM Blast

    How many hours did you play with the racquet? 30 hours

    Comments on racquet performance:


    -groundstrokes:
    Right off the top the pop was as expected very very good, power is not an issue and getting depth was no problem from all areas of the backcourt. In fact like every other Aeropro I have tried it was almost too much power but overall the response and feel was firm and crisp.
    The light weight allowed me to generate plenty of swing speed and the open 16 x 19 pattern really helped generate plenty of spin and I loved from the baseline the way I was able to "go for it" and keep the ball in.
    I also did find good accuracy and I was able to place the ball where i wanted it which did surprise me due to the amount of power it generated. Overall excellent on both forehands and backhands - Loved the new Active Cortex as it helped make the stiffness much more comfortable.

    -serves:
    I found that the racquet is a real serving monster. I found it was excellent in all areas from the service line and it was easy to hit everything: Huge flat serves, Heavy spin ones, Kick serves...etc. In my view this was one of the strongest aspects of the frame and the comfort was excellent even on mishits. Overall an excellent racquet for serves period.

    -volleys:
    Like the serve this is where I found the frame to stand out.....overall very stable and extremely powerful. It's maneuverable and I was able to get penetration and pop even on drop volleys or half volleys overall I have no complaints on the way it responded. I was able to place my volleys with ease and when I needed a putaway it didn't take much to hit a huge winner. Even when targeted at net by a screaming shot right at my bellybutton the APD preformed excellent.

    -serve returns:
    This is once spot where I had some issues as when returning as I'm used to taking a fairly big swing at the ball....with this frame I really had to tone it down a notch and allow the stick to do the "work" as it just has so much power. Laying off a small bit I found worked wonders and i'm sure with more time I could get more comfortable going for it. Not a real negative but it is one aspect of the frame that for players who are used to more old school frames need to be aware of.

    General reaction/comments on overall performance:
    Overall I find the 2013 frame to be very very impressive. Clearly its a stick that's designed for big hitters and folks who love to generate lots of spin. I found it does has much better feel than the previous models and for folks who play lots of doubles its an almost perfect stick with its blend of pop and control at the net and on serves & volleys.
    I also do feel the Active cortex does make a difference in the feel from older models - for sure its a different feeling AeroPro drive.
     
  34. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Tennis experience/background:
    I have been Playing tennis since I was 13 years old. I have taught tennis for over ten years now.

    Describe your playing style:
    I have a one handed backhand with an eastern grip and a forehand with a semi-western grip. I like to serve and volley; and to be aggressive on the baseline and finish points at net.

    Current racquet/string:
    Pure Drive Roddick w/ Babolat leather. Tourna Grip XL. I am currently stringing with Solinco Tour Bite 16g strung at 55lbs.

    Racquet model tested:
    AeroPro Drive 2013 w/ RPM Blast

    How many hours did you play with the racquet?
    6 Hours

    General reaction/comments on overall performance:
    While I have used Pure Drive Roddick since the Cortex iteration and have used Pure Drive Teams I have never actually hit with an AeroPro Drive.
    the first thing I noticed was the feel on left hand during the one-handed backhand. At first it felt like I could not get enough real estate with my left thumb, which I often use to rotate the racquet in position. It was somewhat off putting and just made the racquet feel very foreign compared to my PDR GT. This was absent on backhand volleys and felt fine. The paintjob itself looks great and is probably my favorite AeroPro Drive one yet.

    Comments on racquet performance:

    -Groundstrokes:
    I loved the feel on groundstroke as it felt very plush. The feedback was very dead on full out swings which I enjoyed. It may seem counter-intuitive but the AeroPro has a less hollow and more solid feel compared to the PDR GT but the APD 2013 is not as stable compared to my PDRs.. However, it has great stability for it's weight class. The power on groundstrokes felt odd to me at first. Due to a lower swing weight the AeroPro lacked the power and plow through but was easier to maneuver. While the AeroPro is certainly still a tweener (power players racquet) it had less power than I expected or prefer; this was probably due to the lower swing weight more than anything. So I had to swing faster for more power and at the same time I had to generate the spin to control the ball they way I prefer.

    -Serves:
    With serves it was easy to generate the all the spin I wanted, but lacked the BOOM Factor of Pure Drives. This is common and perfectly normal for tweeners with lower swing weights.

    -Volleys:
    Volleys with great and felt it had very precise directional control. With the jumpy tendency of these types of frame under-spin on my volley were very important. With touch volleys and half volleys that use less spin. I felt a disconnect due to the dead feel. The string I use are crisper to me than RPM Blast and this could be a factor in the disconnect.

    -Serve returns:
    The racquet is maneuverable but lacks weight for plow-through.
     
  35. bugeyed

    bugeyed Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2010
    Messages:
    543
    Location:
    Tx
    Tennis experience/background: I recently returned to tennis after more than 10 years not playing & am currently a strong 4.5 player.
    Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): I play mostly a baseline game, but serve & volley if I am feeling lucky. I only come to the net if I get a very short ball. I have a very good serve, both flat & slice are consistent. Topspin forehand & slice backhand mostly.
    Current racquet/string: For the last 3 years I have been using the Babolat Pure Storm strung with VS mains & a variety of 17 gauge synthetic crosses. Tension is 56/54.
    Racquet model tested: Babolat AeroPro Lite strung with Xcel.
    How many hours did you play with the racquet? Used this racquet for a total of 4 hours.
    Comments on racquet performance:
    -groundstrokes:
    I have to begin by saying that the AeroPro Lite is not the weight & balance that I am used to using. It is much lighter & stiffer, so it was a real challenge to control the ball. I had trouble getting enough topspin to keep the ball in the court. I did finally settle down & hit well with topspin on the forehand side, but my slice backhand is going to take more work, as the ball was flying on me.
    -serves: I got a lot of pop on my serve with the AeroPro Lite. I felt that I was getting good racquet head speed & a nice acceleration through the hitting zone.
    -volleys: I felt very comfortable withe the AeroPro Lite at net. It is very maneuverable & volleys were crisp & easy to place.
    -serve returns: Returning heavy serves was not where this racquet shined. Being so light, it didn't return with much authority. I had to swing hard to get any depth on the return.
    General reaction/comments on overall performance: The AeroPro Lite is a stiff & light racquet. I prefer a more flexible, heavier racquet. The stiffness showed on mishits & serve returns. It wasn't as harsh feeling as other stiff racquets, maybe due to the CORTEX? The AeroPro Lite is probably best suited to a player that hits with extreme topspin & generates a lot of racquet head speed.

    Thanks for letting me participate.
    kev
     
  36. downs_chris

    downs_chris Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Messages:
    809
    Location:
    Northern VA
    Tennis experience/background: Played in high school and a little bit of club tennis in college. Been playing USTA for the past two years, just bumped to 4.5.

    Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): All court player. I thought I was a singles player, but I’ve learn to enjoy doubles and even mixed. I've been called a USTA "*****" - haha, playing in almost kinds of leagues - 4.0, 4.5...8.5 / 9.5 men's combo...8.0, 8.5, 9.0, 9.5 mixed...singles leagues, tri-level, chinese league (even though i'm not chinese), etc, etc.

    Current racquet/string: Babolat Pure Storm Tour GT w/Luxilon Fluoro

    Racquet model tested: Babolat AeroPro Drive 2013 strung with 16g RPM Blast

    How many hours did you play with the racquet?: Since receiving the racquet from Tennis Warehouse I’ve put about 9 to 10 hours on the frame. This includes a few hitting sessions, one men’s doubles match and one 9.5 mixed match. The frame was used both indoors and outdoors.

    Comments on racquet performance:: Having hit with and owned all the previous versions of this frame, the first two things I noticed when hitting with the new aeropro was 1) it definitely had a unique dampened feel (which I’m guessing is from the new cortex system in the handle) and 2) the racquet actually has a pretty good control! I just had the feeling that I knew where the ball was going – which is not always the feeling I get with some of the pure drives or aeropros of the past. I’ve owned the new 2012 Pure Drive and I just can’t hit with that frame in stock form. I need to add a decent amount of lead at 9 and 3 to make it swing a little slower to tame the power. If I played with this aeropro, I’d probably add minimal lead to this frame.

    In match play – the racquet performed great! I think the lowered swingweight is going to appeal a lot of people and it definitely helps on the return of serves. I felt like I had a little time adjusting to the frame from the baseline and I just felt connected with my shots. In terms of feel, I still think the original aeropro is the best – but this new version isn’t too bad. I felt like the aeropro drive cortex (2nd version) had a little bit of a dead / disconnected feeling and the previous aeropro gt had more crisp response – the new aeropro takes that crisp response of the previous model and kind of adds a touch more feel. It’s like you get a little more response from the frame, which I like.

    I had a love hate relationship with this frame on serve. The frame serves big – but I think thicker poly that was in it kind of caused some arm discomfort after a while. But yes, the frame serves huge! At net, the stability of the frame made it play very well. I spend a lot of the time at the net, so no complaints there. On slices, I’d probably want a little more mass in the head, but overall it’s not bad in stock form.

    General reaction/comments on overall performance: Overall, I would say I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of control I was getting from this frame. It’s definitely the type of racquet for me that needs very little lead and is good to go. I’d definitely be curious to see how other strings work in this frame. The original stringjob felt a tad bit boardy and I’d probably go with a 16 or 17 gauge Volkl Cyclone. I did experience some arm discomfort serving, but I think that would be cured with a different string setup. I didn’t feel like the frame was overly harsh otherwise.
     
  37. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    3,084
    I always recommend Polyfibre TCS for people to at least try in the APD. It blends well with the 2010 APD so I suppose it will blend well with the 2013 APD.
     
  38. Nastase

    Nastase Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2004
    Messages:
    251
    Tennis experience/background:
    Age 48, Played Div II NCAA, currently a 5.0+

    Describe your playing style:
    Aggressive Baseliner, but am playing more doubles than singles these days.

    Current racquet/string:
    Had a 26 year relationship with the POG. I found that about 4 years ago it became a little harder to swing, but have struggled to find a racquet I like as much as the POG. I have been playing past couple of years with the Pure Storm Tour GT. Of course I have tried these Babolats before and have never really gotten along with the Pure Drives, Aeros, and such because of the lack of feel (for me).
    I was eager to hit with this based on the favorable comments and new active cortex.

    Racquet model tested:
    AeroPro Drive GT Lite 2013

    How many hours did you play with the racquet? 2.5 hours

    Comments on racquet performance:
    First off, a coment on the cosmetics. It looks very nice to me. Nice improvement.

    First I must say that, being used to heavier/player type frames, this racquet was light for me...and while I am grateful for the oppty to participate in the play test I would have preferred the regular version. But it was an enjoyable test and I felt like the racquet shined in several areas...primarily overall comfort and spin. These racquets are known, for better or worse, for their stiffness...I did not find this to feel as stiff as previous versions. Perhaps it was the new dampening system at work?

    -groundstrokes:
    The racquet delievered in every category that the frame was known for. I was almost immediately comfortable from the baseline with this. Spin was generous. I found hitting a variety of shots to come easily. The light weight of the racquet made my balls fall a little short, but with some height adjustments I compensated. I felt like the Active Cortex was a monumental difference between this version and the previous versions in regard to feel. I can't describe it perfectly, but i thought the feel was much improved and was something I could live with (i think thats a compliment)....I think it also seemed to soften the stiffness of the frame nicely.

    -serves:
    I found it was comfortable from the service line and it was easy to hit everything: It was almost like a trick racquet, the light weight made it pretty nimble and I could generate just about any spin and serve location seemed super easy. The weight of serves wasnt what I would call heavy (again, this is a lighter racquet than I play with) but it was point and shoot type serving with good spin, location and variety was easy.

    -volleys:
    Probably the best area for me. Stability was good for this class of racquet. Maneuverable, with good placement. I found it to volley pretty well.

    -serve returns:
    This was probably where I felt the lightness of the frame was a hinderance for me. I like more mass in the racquet for the game I play. But candidly, the racquet again was awfully comfy, even with shots hit outside the sweetspot...and again I felt like the advantages of a lighter frame were obvious here...it was nimble and I felt like I had lots of options on the return.

    General reaction/comments on overall performance:
    Overall I find the 2013 frame to be good looking and performance was, on balance, impressive. It did deliver on the advertised improvements...most notably better feel and comfort. The test was favorable enough for me to consider a demo of the standard Aero and Aero+.
     
  39. downs_chris

    downs_chris Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Messages:
    809
    Location:
    Northern VA
    how's the bite with that string? i have heard good things about that string being very arm friendly...
     
  40. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Messages:
    1,140
    Location:
    Home
    @TW Staff, I have just dropped off the racquet today. Hoping you recieve it on time. If you need a tracking number, please PM me.
     
  41. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    3,084
    Another string that is worth a try is Luxilon 4G. Chris from TW loved this string in the new Aeropro. He said it felt comfortable and the strings control blended well with the power of the racket.
     
  42. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    3,084
    Its very good for hitting topspin. But, string often maybe 4 to 6 playing hours. I suggest you try it. Many TW playtesters like it also
     
  43. TW Staff

    TW Staff Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2004
    Messages:
    24,127
    Location:
    Tennis-Warehouse.com

    Andyroo10567,

    That should be fine. Thanks for letting us know.

    Brittany, TW
     
  44. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Messages:
    1,140
    Location:
    Home
    Ok. 10char
     
  45. Babolat Official

    Babolat Official Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2012
    Messages:
    2,021
    Location:
    Lyon, France
    Thanks for everyone who tested the new Aeropro Drive. This was the first time we have tried a test like this in the forums. A big thanks to the team at TW for guiding and coordinating. We'll be putting together a document to take to the product team in France with all your feedback (good & bad).

    We know some of you received "Lite" models and it sounds like you would have preferred the standard. We'll take this into consideration for future tests. Thanks for being good sports.

    I've started a thread "Bonjour from Babolat" in the "racquets" section. Feel free to ask any questions about Babolat products or shoot me an email dbecker@babolat.com.

    We will be partnering with TW for more product tests in 2013, so stay tuned.

    Happy hitting,

    Daniel
     
  46. ohcaptain

    ohcaptain Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    139
    A test like this in Europe would be great ;)
     
  47. muyago

    muyago New User

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    istanbul
    i think i m gonna get this raquet too soon... i got pure drive team but i need more spin...
     

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