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Old 02-09-2012, 02:52 PM   #1807
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 7,543

Signum Pro Tornado 1.23 / Babolat Xcel French Open 17g

Stringing: Tornado was the first string I playtested in this thread, and I never tried it again at proper tension. So, once again we have Tornado crossed with a premium multifilament (NRG2 before, for those who did not see post 1). Tornado is still dastardly to string. People on here complain about BHBR a lot. Personally, I think Tornado is a step and a yard beyond as far as stringing goes. Xcel FO strings up almost exactly like Genesis Thunderblast except a bit stiffer, but flimsier. What does that mean? In the hand, it feels stiffer just slightly, so it doesn't glide through the stringbed as easily given the method I use. To be honest, however, it makes NRG2 look like a syn gut in comparison as far as stringing ease goes. The flimsiness is when getting through blocked holes. It has that familiar stringy multifilament construction like Thunderblast does unlike the soft and gummy type like Maxim Touch, NRG2, or really any natural colored multi aside from Tourna Gut. Regardless, crosses were still a breeze, and Tornado is still obnoxious. Small side note: I am not sure if Xcel is available in reel form, but if it is, that'd make it easier. Babolat winds their sets up in such small circles that the coil memory makes it easy for the string to get caught on everything from the machine, the racquet handle, even your watch! Strung at 50/54.5 lbs.

Note: someone asked me about my tensions. No, I do not arbitrarily pick tensions out of the air. I use an educated guess based on what I've heard the string is similar to and how to get the most out of it. That's why you'll see generally low 50s to high 40s for my poly, mid 50s for my multi and low 50s for my natural gut. +/- variances there are just me being quirky.

Groundstrokes: This is a great baseliner's setup. This particular combination has a very unique, very uncanny feel to it. It's incredibly crisp to the point of being responsive from the baseline. I cannot explain the feeling, but instead of it being soft, stiff or mushy, it's just...responsive. I guess you could say that it gives you a large amount of feedback depending on the shot that you hit. A topspin shot feels very different from a backhand slice, a drop shot or even a pickup ball. Very unique. Note that I have not said that it's perfect. The spin is good, but not chart topping, and the power is middle of the road as well. Control is above average, however, so this would be a good all court setup.
Overall: 9/10

Serves: Very nice on serves. You get and appreciate that same feedback even more when serving. With this comes either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on who you are and how you think about it. Because this is a very loud stringbed, it is very easy, and I mean VERY easy to tell what sort of action was just put on the ball. Flat serves will give you a nice cannon sound, slice serves sound like a grating noise and topspin/kick sound like you're scraping across the strings. I say that this is good because it lets you know what sort of response to expect when the ball lands. For this same reason, if your opponent notices such things, you've already lost an advantage. Either way, good for serving.
Overall: 9/10

Volleys: Nothing spectacular here, feels simply like softened poly mains. Would not choose for a doubles player, but there are no issues when playing at the net or with overheads.
Overall: 8.5/10

Durability: As you can likely imagine, the Tornado is fine. The Xcel, however, is becoming shredded quickly. This is a problem for spin production as the mains no longer snap back. There is simply far too much friction once the black coating wears off the Xcel. Nonetheless, it's completely linear. Played the same yesterday as the day I strung it.
Overall: 8.5/10

I'm going to give this an overall rating higher than any of the individual ratings. I do so because it's truly quite nice to hit with. It's a very responsive setup and would suit an all-court player. Baseline bashers should look elsewhere, strangely. I'd recommend it for someone with a very complete game all around who is not afraid to venture to the net when needed or wanted, or to someone who likes to play shorter points from the baseline.

Overall: 9.25/10
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