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.
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 by Roforot; 12-11-2012 at 07:26 PM.
Reason: Tried out Pure DRive