Xcel is Xcellent!
OK, here is my review in the TW format of the Babolat Xcel Premium 16.
Strung up the Babolat Xcel a few nights ago. I love the packaging because it does not have any ties to cut off and it uncoiled perfectly. It looks like a CD case. Anyways, the string was noticeably soft and was right up there with Mantis Comfort for ease of stringing. I did get 1 minor kink with it but it was nothing. The string seemed to have a coating of something that only helped with weaving the crosses. I did the old ball bounce test and it feels soft yet crisp. I think I'm going to really enjoy hitting with it but only time will tell.
Tension it is strung: 60 pounds on a lockout machine full bed
Your regular string set up: Mantis Comfort Synthetic 60 pounds full bed
String pattern of your racquet: 16 x 20
Power (or lack there of): Low/Medium powered multi
Feel: Good feel not great
Tension maintenance: Seemed to hold all 12 hours
Overall comments and feedback: See below
General: I could tell on the first few hits that I was going to like this. The string is smooth but still provides pretty good spin for a multi. I loved this string for everything but came up short on several drop shots which is the only minor negative.
Serve/Return of Serve: First serve is at 90% due to a shoulder injury. Still I had 2 or 3 aces due to accuracy. When I went for my returns this string was great. Chip returns were pretty good too.
Strokes: Lots of spin on both wings. Depth control was good. This string felt like MultiFeel for spin which is just below RIP/Hexy Fiber for spin potential. When I wanted to blast forehands, I felt like I could without having to worry about the trampoline effect. In fact, my first outing with this string my forehand was a beast. When I can pull opponents off the court with short cross court forehands, they are usually in trouble that day. I did this often. My inside out forehand was great too. My slice backhand is lethal with this string. The topspin 1 hander was pretty good with it too.
Volleys: It's very good for volleys just like RIP. Volleys felt very solid when I tried to punch them. I did not get the opportunity yet to attempt a drop volley.
Touch shots: I started out with a few good drop shots and then I could not find the mark after that. I hit about 5 in a row that hit the net and did not go over. Maybe I just need a little more time to adjust to this string.
Softness: The string feels about as soft as the Mantis Comfort. Yet another string that does not correlate with the RSI stiffness rating. I think it feels softer than Maxim Touch 17.
Tension: Perfect for my game.
Durability: Because the strings don't move that much, I think notching in the same place could be a problem. It would not surprise me if I only get another 3 hours out of the string. Lo and behold, I cut this string out after about 12 hours when the crosses were hanging on by a thread.
Movement: String movement was very little. KCraig would approve.
Conclusion: This is an excellent string that deserves a premium title. I think I like it slightly better than the Mantis but not quite as much as MultiFeel. I will rated it higher than MultiFeel just because of the bad durability of MF. Too bad it is so expensive because I'm sure more people would buy it if the price were right.
Last edited by mikeler; 03-18-2012 at 10:13 AM.