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.
Volkl C10 Pro - Pacific Tough Gut 16L/Genesis Black Magic