Tennis Warehouse Playtest: Babolat Pure Strike (16x19, 18x20, Tour) 3rd Gen Playtest

winchestervatennis

Hall of Fame
I got the 18x20 and have now logged 4 playing sessions so feel like i can comment now. I strung it with the blast rough that came with it at 52 lbs. normal frame is the most recent pure drive model. So the pure strike 18x20 has considerably less power in my opinion which took some getting used to, but once I adjusted I’ve been loving it, particularly for dubs. I’m looking at very high marks for control, serves, and volleys.

Only real complaint so far is that i get the feeling like its short, like a 26” frame. But I’m getting used to that as well.

More to come once I’m able to hit with it more.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
Review Part 1

Racquet Received: Pure Strike 18x20 (18M)

String and tension used for test: VS Touch 16 for the mains at 52# and RPM Blast Rough for crosses at 48#, conventional stringing

Tennis experience/background: 4.0C, singles and doubles player. I played during my junior years until age 16. Took 35-year break and returned to tennis in late 2015 as a 3.0.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): I am primarily a doubles player, but try to play as much singles matches as I can. I am a baseliner, I can be described as aggressive depending on the day and opponent. My game is based primarily on serve+1 or +2 style, I try to avoid rallies beyond 5 or 6 shots. The weakest parts of my game are volleys and self-inflicted errors. I am in the process of transitioning into an all-court player, in that I try to force my opponents into playing all parts of the court against variety of shots, which tend to reveal weaknesses. For this transition to actually happen, I am focused on increasing my repertoire of shots and widen my options as much as possible.

Current racquet/string setups: 2016 Wilson RF97 Autograph, RPM Blast 17 @ 56# with RPM Blast Rough 17 @ 56#, proportionally strung.

How many hours did you play with the racquet? ~10 hours

I have been intrigued with the Babolat Pure Strike frames for some time; although I did not think I needed to change my current frame, until recently. This playtest has been tremendously fun for me, exploring a different perspective and finding out that there are other options to my current setup.

I have been testing the Pure Strike Tour (PST) for the past four weeks, and now the 18x20 (18M). I have never used a Babolat frame previously, and frankly I was not expecting much compared to the RF97A. I will try to compare all three frames as best as I can.


Comments on racquet performance:

PS 18M Unstrung:
Weight: 302 gm
Balance: 32.5 cm

Strung with VS Touch 1.30 mm for the mains @ 52# and RPM Blast 1.25 mm for the crosses @ 48#, and with Solinco WonderGrip:
Weight: 326 gm
Balance: 33.2 cm

The above configuration caused noticeable elbow pain and I could not play with the racquet for more than 40 minutes total. To continue testing, I changed the balance by adding 11 gm of tungsten under the butt cap. The inside of the handle is empty, creating good options for customization with silicone or other materials.

Playtest strung with overgrip:
Weight: 337 gm
Balance: 32.1 cm


Groundstrokes:

The first thing I noticed was how easily I was able to generate topspin with the racquet. I was expecting a significant drop in topspin per my previous experiences with 18x20 frames. Having been using 16x19 frames for the past three years, I was expecting to have difficulties in adjusting to play with this configuration. It turned out not to be the case. Topspin is very accessible, does not require dramatic effort, although there is still a gap compared to the PST or RF97A. With the 16x19 frames, when I hit powerful FH topsins I can hear the strings sliding, stretching and snapping back. With 18M that sound and sensation is not there, but the spin certainly is.

I initially had trouble generating depth with the 18M, but adjusted to it relatively quickly. Both on the BH and FH I had confidence in hitting my shots crosscourt or down the line. I also noticed that I hardly shanked the ball with this frame, which is consistent in my experience with the PST as well. Compared to the RF97A, the number of mishits at any given match went down from 8-9 with the RF97A to 1-2 with either the 18M or PST.

Directional control with the 18M is dream-like. I can make last-second decisions on which side I am going to hit the shot and I nail it. It is such a maneuverable frame that finding the sweet spot has been easy. Although I have to note that the PST’s sweet zone feels much larger than the 18M, and it is a more forgiving frame.

The consistent problem I had was controlling depth and direction at the same time. I am so used to the 16x19 string pattern, and have been spoiled by the PST for the past few weeks, hitting hard inside-out or inside-in shots with pace has been an issue with the 18M. This is very similar to the problem I have been having with the RF97A, albeit it is the reverse. With the RF97A I can generate significant topspin to pull the ball onto the court, but its directional control lacks noticeably compared to the 18M or PST. With the 18M, I am able to control the direction, but depth control with high-pace shots is lacking, and I am sending the balls long. This is where the PST outpaces both of the frames, where it has this seemingly perfect balance across all three dimensions of the ball's trajectory and that performance is easily accessible.

On the other hand, I became Superman with my slices using the 18M. It is like changing my outfit in a phone booth, run out and hit amazing slices. Good underspin shots are natural domain of 18x20 frames, but I have never hit better slices in my tennis career before. With the RF97A I use slices mostly as a defense mechanism and it works well; with the PST, I am mightily struggling to access the slices, not there yet unfortunately. With the 18M, I was able to hit offensive slices at will from the very first try and throughout matches, as if I have been doing it for years. The 18M is a delight in this regard.

Generally, in doubles, I play the AD side of the court. Having reliable and offensive slices on the BH is crucial particularly for service returns. The 18M is the racquet just for that environment. With the RF97A or PST I struggle returning serves with slices, and I revert back to blocking or driving topspin, which require perfect timing. The 18M will add a new offensive weapon for me to use in these scenarios.

One area where I felt the 18M is lacking is stability and off-center hits. It is very easy to find the sweet spot with this frame, but if I miss it, the 18M does not forgive. Similarly, I have had difficulties in responding to hard-long balls if I am out of position, it does not have the forgiveness or stability of the PST or RF97A.

With the PST, I am able to hit moderately heavy topspin shots, control depth and direction all at the same time. This capability has opened up new shots for me. I can now hit highly-angled topspin shots at almost any depth without overthinking my technique. In my last singles match, I was able to hit some angles on the FH and BH sides from the baseline that I was never able to hit before. I felt almost like Nadal hitting those amazing shots from behind the baseline. The versatility of the PST is unmatched by the 18M or RF97A.

This versatility became available to me, I come to find out, because I am able to change between my grips faster and more seamlessly thanks to the Babolat grip shape. After using the Babolat, now I am realizing that I have had difficulties in switching from semi-western FH grip to eastern BH with Wilson. Given that I am mishitting far fewer times with Babolat, I think that Wilson’s grip shape probably was the cause of most shanks rather than my poor technique.

Serves:

I have four different serves that I alternate to keep my opponents guessing on placement, depth and spin. Serves are my primary weapon, and if they do not work, the remainder of the game is pretty much worthless. Most often I use a slice serve for my first, but sometimes, I use the flat serve if I am going for most pace I can generate.

With the 18M my slice first serves improved in its curve without reduction in pace, which makes that serve even greater weapon. At the same time, I noticed the lack of topspin on my second twist serves. I compensated for that by adjusting my ball toss a bit, but I am not able to hit twist serves as I do with the PST or RF97A. The accuracy the 18M provided me with placement is more than satisfactory, but I need to find a way to hit with higher pace without compromising placement. The 18M will require a bit more work on my part to improve on my second serves, but my improved first-serves almost make up the difference.

The PST on the other hand is a dream for my serves. I have not had better serves before. Pace, placement, spins of various kinds are all there. The twist improved noticeable with the PST, far better than the RF97A even. I never thought that I could hit better serves than those I hit with my RF97A, the PST proved me wrong.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
Review Part 2


Volleys:

My volleys have taken a downturn this year. It has been the main source of my frequent doubles losses lately, and I have not found a way to fix them.
With the PST, I continue to have troubles with my volleys, but not as much as I do with the RF97A. My expectations for the 18M were no different, because I know it must be my technique, positioning, lack of focus, or whatever else I might be doing wrong; cannot be the frame.

I am on court with the 18M, playing my first doubles match. My partner serves out wide on the deuce side, opponent hammers a FH back at just above my head, I block it and the ball just rockets out from the frame on to the court for a winner. Partner serving to the AD side, again opponent hammers back a FH high to my BH, I reach out, flick the wrist for another winner. Throughout the whole match, I probably missed no more than 4 or 5 volleys, and most were winners. I haven’t had such a net game in a long while. I am so impressed with how I could hit volleys with the 18M, I found myself at the net far more often than before.

I think given the 18Ms amazing performance with underspin shots, I should have expected it to be also good for volleys, but I was not expecting what I experienced. Only if I could replicate such performance with the PST, it would be the only frame I would need.

Serve returns:

The 18M is average on service returns. Hitting drive shots against serves, when the frame connects with the ball, results in crisp and clean returns with good pace and depth, but still lagging behind the PST or RF97A. Slice returns are apple-candy sweet. Blocking is probably the worst choice or last resort. I am not able to generate enough pace to get the ball across long enough to not be a sitting duck for either the next shot in singles or getting killed by the opposing net player.

The drive returns also require very deliberate effort put in to generate enough topspin; otherwise my balls went long most of the time. PST and RF97A absolutely outshine the 18M in this area. Where the 18M overshadows both of those frames, again, is in slice returns; there is no competing with the 18M on slice shots.

Slice returns are useful both in singles and doubles, but in an ideal situation, I should have multiple options on how I chose to return serves, I don’t think 18M gives as many options as the other 16x19 frames here, especially the PST. Although, in doubles, I’d take the excellent slice returns and mediocre drive returns against other options. For singles matches, the 16x19 frames offer far better options in my opinion.

Comfort:

To me the gold standard in comfort in the RF97A. It is plush, perfectly balanced, zero vibrations felt through the arm even with off-center hits, no impact on shoulder at all, while preserving enough feel for the ball.

The 18M is far from this scenario, particularly in stock form. As I mentioned previously, I had to change the balance of the racquet just to be able to play without pain in my elbow. Beyond that I would not consider the 18M as a ‘plush’ frame. I do feel the vibrations and shocks in my hand and shoulder. None are at a level that cause discomfort or pain, and maybe that is something new I need to get used to and interpret to play better.

The PST is far more comfortable that then 18M, but cannot touch the RF97A in terms of comfort either. I feel the ball more in terms of vibrations. Again, what I feel is not discomfort, it is just some new signals I need to understand I think.

General reaction/comments on overall performance:

The 18M excels in underspin shots, and is very maneuverable at the net. It is stable enough during service returns, with some limitations, while affording me enough variety with my own serves. It proves to be the nearly perfect frame for my doubles outings.

The PST on the other hand is the most versatile frame I used to date. It is an absolute enabler for me in accessing ball trajectories not available before with the RF97A. Although, I haven’t experienced significant improvements in my net game or underspin shots with it, its stability, power and forgiveness allows me to hit surprisingly effective groundstrokes and serves, which makes it the perfect frame for my singles game.

The only time I felt the PST was unstable was when the ball hits the very upper section of the frame during serves or overheads. When that happens, the frame just twists around and there is no power at all, which results in a mishit.

Note on strings: I have played with the PST and 18M with several different string setups. Although I have a preference of full poly setup on the RF97A, that setup felt like it is limiting both of the Pure Strike versions. The best tension I think for full poly setup for the 18M is somewhere between 44 to 48#. However, both frames absolutely become alive with natural gut and poly hybrid setups. Keeping poly for the crosses and tensions below 50# seem to work best for me. Particularly the PST is a frame of all types of shots, a hybrid frame in a way, using hybrid strings complements the frame perfectly. On the 18M, natural gut in the mains compensates the lower power levels and again livens up the frame to be a very effective weapon, while poly on the crosses helps tame the natural gut. There is no doubt in my mind that the Pure Strike family of frames are made for hybrid setups using natural gut for the main strings.

The string spacing of the PST is very interesting, it is the same for the first 3-4 mains, then gradually open up. I think it is this pattern that gives this 16x19 frame so much more control. In the picture below the PST is on top and 18x20 is at the bottom:


All my previous frames added something new to my game, starting from Angell TC97 as a 3.0 to the RF97A as a 3.5/4.0. The Pure Strike family of frames is my next weapon that I believe will take my game to the next level. I have been so impressed with both of the Pure Strikes, The overall feel of these two frames are similar, it is clear that they come from the same mold, hence switching between frames from match to match does not require too much of an adjustment. Even before I finished my review I sold all of my RF97A frames and bought PSTs and 18x20s. PST will be for my singles matches, and 18x20 for doubles, at least until I figure out how to get the most out of the PST’s performance for my doubles games.

Also, just to give some idea on easy it was for me to actually play competitively with the PST, transitioning from the RF97A, I am including the following video. It is from my second outing and first single match with the frame. I struggle with the shallower launch angle of the PST compared to the RF97A during the first set and I lose it 1-6. Second set my shots are far better, fewer UEs and play much better overall; still lost 5-7. The video only includes few mins of the first set as the camera ran out of battery :(


Happy tennis’ing!
 

dsb

Rookie
FWIW... I use VS Team (1.25mm) in the mains @52# and Alu Power Soft (1.25mm) in the crosses @ 48# in my Gen2 18x20s. One time my stringer didn't have the VS Team and put the Touch (1.30) in the mains and the difference was remarkable, the racket felt 'muted' for lack of a better descriptor, lacked depth, and didn't feel like I was generating my usual spin. As of late I've been experimenting with RPM Rough (17ga) in the crosses and I might be switching, the point being that you owe it to your self to try the 18x20 with the VS Team in the mains.
 
As a former PS2014 (orig- red and back) 18x20 frame lover, I have been dying to hit one of the new version PS. I did have P17 18x20 but liked the original more - so went back to it. I played with it for about 2 years and then developed some TE which was so bad, that I made the change to the UltraTour. I love the UT but for me it lacks a little pop on the serve and I am definitely missing something on the backhand (which is good but not the weapon it was). I still have my 4 old PS frames but cut the sting out of them all to remove the temptation to hit with them.
I would love to hear other's comparison of the two.

I did have the opportunity to hit with PS2019 18x20 and PST. I didn't like the PST, not sure why it just felt like i was playing with a log. But the PS2019, wow in stock form it was very nice. For me it lives up to the hype as a first strike stick. My backhands and serves pop, even with stock set up and tester strings (rpm blast 17g at 55).

i am tempted to get another one, and see what is going on with my elbow with time... but the TE i had with last version scares me..
 

dgoran

Hall of Fame
Interesting how we all perceive things differently for me tour is better racquet softer more plow less effort to play with less vibration. Monster on spin but can crush flat like nobody’s business.

Only if one must go with lighter version (shoulder injury, fitness etc) I would say ok if you must...
 
It is funny I like the tour for forehands and redirecting pace more. Volleys no question. But purestrike def turn my backhand into consistent weapon and helped my serves. On other hand tennis elbow would keep me from playing. So I am still playing with the tour. But part of me misses the purestrike.
 

TennisHound

Legend
Interesting how we all perceive things differently for me tour is better racquet softer more plow less effort to play with less vibration. Monster on spin but can crush flat like nobody’s business.

Only if one must go with lighter version (shoulder injury, fitness etc) I would say ok if you must...
Have you thought about the Prestige MP? I actually liked the orig PS 16x19 better than the 18x20. Everyone has their preferences though
 
Went out and hit some more serves with the PST compared to the Blade v7 and TC95 in the same session. Holy crap the PST kicked like crazy. I don't get the satisfactory "boom" as I do with the Blade but I'm starting to not care. There were serves where even on my "flat" serves I was hitting the fence above net height. The racquet head speed came much much easier than either other racquet.

I want to give it some more workout with volleys but right now this might be my new go-to racquet (!!!)

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
 
I think I finally have had "enough" time with the PST.

Racquet Received: Pure Strike Tour
String and tension used for test: Started with Tier One Firewire Boost 18g 52/50, Swapped to RPM blast Rough/PPC 51/49, Swapped to synthetic gut 50/48
Tennis experience/background: Played competitively for about 3-4 years now, 4.0
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): I'd like to say I'm an all court player, but I think I'm more comfortable serving and volleying than anything else.
Current racquet/string setups: I've been using the Beast Pro 100lb, but played way too much over a span of a few weeks, so I had to swap to my phantom 100 18x20 for a couple of weeks. Now I'm back with the Beast Pro.
Prince Beast Pro 100LB - Tier One Firewire Boost 18g 53/51
Phantom 100 18x20 - PSGD 16g 45/43
Prince Beast Pro 100 LB - Prince Vortex 17g 50/48

How many hours did you play with the racquet? About 12-15 with drilling, feeding, match play, and point play

Comments on racquet performance:
-Groundstrokes: The one area where I absolutely could not get dialed in. Forehands sprayed everywhere, backhands felt weak sometimes and then I'd miss targets long the next. I was really hoping a string change would help with the inconsistencies I was having with groundstrokes... It did not. With the firewire boost in there, I had to basically spin everything in. I'm used to the string, just never had to focus on brushing up on the ball so much with the Beast Pro. I had to cut the FireWire boost out due to some soreness.
I've never used RPM Blast Rough, and after stringing it up in this racket, I'm happy to say I will never use it again. Even in a hybrid it felt stiff and dead. The RPM Rough/PPC combo was the worst of the bunch when it came to groundstrokes feeling anemic.
The best feeling and "control" came from the Prince Synthetic Gut setup. There were still a ton of inconsistencies off the stringbed though.
-Serves: Serves are where this racket shined for me. I really enjoyed hitting flat and kickers with this racket with all string combos. The synthetic gut didn't have as much spin obviously, but was still fun serving with it. No complaints on serves.
-Volleys: Volleys were solid with the PST. Maneuverability was a welcomed trait coming from the Beast Pro. I had no issues with stability or maneuverability with the PST.
-Serve returns: Very similar to my groundstroke experience. I never felt confident just going for returns as I never really felt I knew where the ball would land.

General reaction/comments on overall performance:
Very interesting playtest. I thought for the weight and swingweight I would have no problems on groundstrokes. And I figured serves and volleys would take some getting used to. But neither were the case. I think tinkering with the balance and swingweight a little bit, this racket could turn into a whole different animal.
 

PhxRacket

Professional
First time out playing with the 18x20. Strung with VS Touch/RPM Blast at 52/47. Wow! First of all, I was hesitant to string as stated, but was convinced to give it a go by some friends and teammates. Played really well with the Strike. UEs were user error not stick related. Didn’t feel as stiff as spec’d. Fantastic spin, improved control and average comfort. I am going to tinker with tail weighting it before I post my review. FWIW, I am play-testing the Strike, demoing a YY VCP HD, Blade v7 18x20, and have been swinging a Dunlop CX 200 Tour 18x20. Stay tuned.
 
Here's part 1 of my playtest, using the racquet in its stock configuration and stock weight, but using my preferred string of choice rather than the included Babolat RPM Rough (which I previously have tried and found it not find to my liking). Part 2 will be after the racquet is modified closer to my preferred specs (length increased 1/2 inch and weight added to approximately 345 grams static weight and 340 swingweight).

Racquet Received: Pure Strike 16X19. My racquet, strung with 17 gauge Tourna BHS7T, weighed 316 grams with a 33.2 cm balance point, so seven grams lighter than spec and 0.2 cm more head heavy than spec.

String and tension used for test: Tourna Big Hitter Silver 7 Tour, once at 46 pounds, once at 48 pounds, and currently at 45 pounds, full bed.

Tennis experience/background: USTA 4.5 rated, soon to be 58 years old. Played seriously from high school through college, then did not play again until 2004. Have been a consistent USTA league and tournament player since then.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): Aggressive all-court preferring singles over doubles. I hit hard groundstrokes and close at the net when possible. Mediocre doubles player but currently captain of a 55+ 9.0 team.

Current racquet/string setups: Wilson Blade SW104, handle weighted to 347 grams, 340 swingweight, strung with Tourna Big Hitter Silver 7 Tour 17 gauge at 51/46 in the center mains and crosses.

How many hours did you play with the racquet? Approximately 12-14, against a ball machine and hitting against various opponents from 4.0 to 5.0. Did not do any match play as I've had shoulder issues in the past and it feels dangerous to my shoulder health to swing a light racquet overhead.

Comments on racquet performance:
-Groundstrokes:
The impressions after the very first hit were power and launch angle. Despite the light static and swing weight, the Pure Strike generates surprisingly high levels of ball speed with a high launch angle. Power levels and launch angle were higher than the heavier v7 Blade 98 in either 16X19 or 18X20 configurations using the same string and approximately same tension. The relatively open string pattern allows the Silver 7 Tour to generate significant levels of spin as well, so there is minimal adjustment needed for rally-type groundstrokes. Topspin strokes have higher net clearance but still land inside the court. Underspin shots are penetrating and easily generated. However, both heavy topspin and underspin shots require a more forward swingpath than I currently use with a heavier racquet. Otherwise, it doesn't feel like there is enough mass in the hoop to compress the balls against the string to generate forward velocity.

The sweet spot is large and well centered. There is a slight amount of frame vibration and a slight amount of stringbed vibration, but the Pure Strike is more than comfortable and damped enough to be used without a stringbed vibration dampener. The racquet swings easily and feels aerodynamic. Mis-hits are not significantly jarring except up at the tip of the stringbed. Balls hit there generate a sharp feedback that is fairly quickly dissipated.

The Pure Strike has linear power output up to about 70% of my maximum swing speed. Prior to that point, the impact feels solid and cushioned. There is a moderate pocketing feel along with a springiness to the impact. There isn't the sense of plow through because of sheer mass, but the racquet also doesn't feel significantly deflected by contact.

At the higher end of my swingspeed, the lack of mass starts to become apparent. Anything other than a perfect sweetspot hit makes the racquet feel flimsy and hollow, and there is a clear feeling of the racquet recoiling away from the imperfect contact. The response starts to feel more and more flexible, and ballspeed doesn't increase linearly.

Overall, control is very good. There's some distance inconsistency due to the higher launch angle but the ball comes off the strings mostly with the speed that is expected and in the direction I am aiming, with directional control being better than length control. There was no "hot spot" where the ball would unexpectedly fly long.

I strung this racquet three times. Initially, I used Silver 7 Tour at 46 pounds. The strings wore through and broke at about the eight hour mark, which is quite a bit faster than my experience with this string in a denser 18X19 pattern. I restrung with Silver 7 Tour at 48 pounds to reduce the slight springy feeling and that slight tension increase did not suit the racquet. The higher tension made the racquet more tinny feeling, with more frame and stringbed vibration. I cut the string out and put in Silver 7 Tour at 45 pounds. There was really no noticeable difference between 46 and 45 pounds, though i wouldn't like to go lower because it feels about as springy as I would like.

Here's a short clip of some groundstrokes, from mostly flat to moderate topspin, followed at the end by some backhand slices. On the underspin backhands, the balls were floaty at first until I slightly changed the technique and used a more forward directed swingpath. The high launch angle is apparent on the flatter and topspin swings, as is the spin the racquet allows the strings to generate.


-Serves: Because of shoulder issues, I don't feel safe serving hard with light racquets. I did a limited amount of serving with this racquet and found the same attributes - there is a surprising amount of power, and the open pattern lets a shaped poly string put very good spin on the ball. Control is good and it felt easy to hit all parts of the service box.

Here's a short serving clip. I hit seven first serves and three second serves, all at about 60% and without putting any legs into the motion. Despite that easy swinging and using dead and worn ball machine balls, the racquet generated enough pace to get to the back wall (21 feet behind the baseline) on the bounce, and I was able to easily get a shoulder high bounce on second serves (the last two in the clip).

The first second serve, the seventh in the series, shows the same issue as with trying to hit a spinny groundstroke. The swing path must be more through the ball than typical or the ball seems to slide off the strings. This is the case even with new balls, though not to the same extent as with these worn and flat ball machine balls. The ball sliding off the string is not characteristic of the string itself as this doesn't happen with this same string in other racquets.


-Volleys: Volleying with the Pure Strike was fairly easy due to the large sweet spot and easy maneuverability because of the light weight. As I volleyed with it more, I came to find that it more forgiving and more accurate to volley a bit lower on the stringbed. Trying to catch the ball about an inch below the center of the stringbed allowed a slight mis-hit to be more directionally accurate and have more ball speed than the same degree of mis-hit when trying to catch it in the center of the stringbed. In the ball machine video, I tried catching the ball at various spots on the stringbed and you can see times when the ball pops up or has no penetration. In all these cases, it feels like a bit more mass added to the hoop would make a good volleying racquet even more forgiving.

During live hitting, there were also a few times when I had to volley a ball that had either a lot of topspin or a lot of underspin. In these instances, I can feel the hoop being deflected by the spin on the ball, something that is not noticeable with the same string in heavier racquets. Some added mass to the hoop should help this as well.

Volleying against hard hit shots is both good and bad. The light weight helps me get the racquet into position, but the lack of mass means the contact must be almost perfect or the ball will significantly deflect the racquet, causing a significant loss of control. I don't find this racquet to allow many "lucky" mis-hit volley winners.


-Serve returns: I had only one opportunity to return serve and only during a practice session. There were no special issues that came up during returns. Blocking back fast serves was pretty easy due to the large sweet spot, but against the fastest serves I faced, it was critical not to mis-hit very much or those returns wouldn't have enough ball speed to make it over the net and into play.
 
Pure Drive 16X19 review, part 2:

General reaction/comments on overall performance:
I shared this racquet with about a half dozen other players all at about the 4.5 level. Those that preferred the racquet typically played with moderate to high spin rather than as a flat hitter, and generally did not hit the ball with as much speed so the extra power provided by the Pure Strike helped their strokes. Players who hit the ball flatter and/or harder complained more of control issues, and those were also the players that typically used heavier racquets than the Pure Strike. Most playtesters noted that the frame was solid and comfortable. I did not have any women test the Pure Strike.

Compared to the Pure Drive VS (which has been weighted up and has Cyclone 1.25), the Pure Strike is more comfortable and dampened, and has a bit more ball speed off the strings. The Pure Drive VS plays stiffer when contact is high on the stringbed, and there is enough vibration that I need a stringbed dampener. The Pure Drive VS has a slightly smaller sweetspot but handles high racquet head speed swings without feeling tinny or hollow, and feels better suited to someone who swings hard and fast.

Compared to the v7 Blade 98 16X19 and 18X20, the Pure Strike has more ball speed and a slight bit larger sweetspot, but the Blades have more internal dampening so there is less frame or stringbed vibration felt through the grip. The Blades swing heavier and have a deeper feeling of pocketing the ball, and both hit a ball with a lower launch angle. The Blades respond better to high racquet head speeds and for flatter hitting. The Pure Strike seems to have a slight edge on volleys, where it feels like it has more pop without sacrificing control. These two competitors are both excellent racquets and choosing between them seems to be a matter of swing weight preference more than any playing characteristic.

Overall, this is a very solid racquet with a generous sweetspot, better than average power and maneuverability, and enough dampening to be playable without a stringbed vibration dampener. It seems better suited for a player without extreme racquet head speed, where at its stock weight some deficiencies show up. In summary, it is a very good racquet that should be considered by recreational players up to a high skill level.

Thanks to Tennis Warehouse and Babolat for allowing me to participate in this test. I will modify this racquet to make it closer to my specs and report back with my impressions in a few weeks.
 

martyr444

Rookie
Babolat Pure Strike Gen 3 16x19 Review

Racquet Received:
Babolat Pure Strike 16x19

String and tension used for test: Tier One Firewire Boost 60# and also tried the RPM Blast Rough 17 at the same tension

Tennis experience/background: I’ve been playing Tennis for around 25 years now. I started the sport later in life because I was always a Football, Basketball and Baseball player. A Club Member saw me out at a Park just messing around with hitting some Tennis Balls with some Wooden Rackets to help keep my Teen Daughter busy. He approached me and said “We could use an Athlete like you in our Club”. I was not interested but he was persistent and got my Phone number. I did not go back out there but a couple of weeks later he calls me trying to persuade me to give it a try. Again, I said thanks but not interested. Two weeks later he calls me again. I figured he wasn’t going to give up so I met with their Club Members later that week. The result from his persistence is I became a Tournament Player and Club Member for life.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): I am an aggressive baseliner who likes to overpower his opponents and either hit back court winners or wait for a short ball to put away at the net. I hit with heavy topspin and drive the Ball through the court when needed with a somewhat flatter hit Ball. At times, I also hit shots with my left hand when the ball is out of reach from my normal one-handed backhand. When I play doubles, I love going after the net player with my heavy ground strokes and earned me the nickname “Netman Assasin”.

Current racquet/string setups: I have been using the same Rackets for a while now. I just cannot seem to find anything yet to wow me into making a change. My Rackets are Prince Tour Esp 100T’s that I have added weight to produce a heavier ball. Strings and tension vary with the weathers cold winter verses hot summer.

How many hours did you play with the racquet? 15

Comments on racquet performance: At times, I found it hard to be consistent compared to my normal Rackets. I also have a Clash 100 and play more consistent with it too. It seems to have hot spots at times when the same stroke one time would stay in while on the next stroke would sail long. It has plenty of power but I expected it to be a little more consistent. Directional control is good.

-Groundstrokes: I was able to hit some very fast flat forehands with it for winners but because of the inconsistency would sometimes hold back on my ground strokes. My one handed back had was consistent but did not produce the same heavy ball as my normal Rackets. It makes a very good sound when smacking the ball. It produces easy spin but again I needed to really keep the Racket speed up to keep the ball in on flatter shots to give them some spin. I do not use slice much but for me it was average in that area. I did hit quite a few aggressive topspin lobs with consistency so it was good for that part of my game.
-Serves: This Racket shined for me in this area. I was very consistent with hitting my flat serves. Much higher percentage compared to my normal Rackets. Kick serves were very consistent too but didn’t kick quite as high compared to my normal Rackets. I wish I could just use this Racket for serving and my other Rackets for the rest of my game.

-Volleys: It was good for my volleys. Touch/feel was good. It had enough stick for put away volleys so no worries there. Reflex volleys worked very well too as it was quick to change directions from side to side.

-Serve returns: I did very well on returns with the Racket. At times, I did hold back a little until I would tell myself to trust the Racket. Again, there were times I felt the same stroke that hit the winner before the next time felt like a hot spot and would sail a little long. It handled heavy serves quite nicely.

General reaction/comments on overall performance: I had mixed feelings for this Racket. Ground strokes weren’t as consistent compared to my normal play. It has plenty of power but lacks in the consistency department on length of shot at times. Directional control is very good. The main positive stand out for me was the Serve. It was amazing in that category and won me many free points. It’s a very clean looking Racket but not enough of what I need yet for me to want to make a change. Thank you Tennis Warehouse and Babolat for giving me this opportunity to review the 3rd Gen Pure Strike!
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
There's some distance inconsistency due to the higher launch angle but the ball comes off the strings mostly with the speed that is expected and in the direction I am aiming, with directional control being better than length control. There was no "hot spot" where the ball would unexpectedly fly long.
I had mixed feelings for this Racket. Ground strokes weren’t as consistent compared to my normal play. It has plenty of power but lacks in the consistency department on length of shot at times.
It is interesting you both have similar comments about the 16M. I am not experiencing inconsistencies in shot depth or direction with the Tour, I am now curious as to how the 16M differs from the Tour to induce inconsistencies, reduced weight/mass is enough to account for this? :unsure:
 

Blade0324

Hall of Fame
Racquet Received: Pure Strike 16X19.

String and tension used for test: RPM Blast Rough 17g at 48 lbs and then Tour Bite 17g at 48lbs.

Tennis experience/background: USTA 4.5 rated, 45 years old. Have been a consistent USTA league and tournament player for about 12 years.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): Aggressive all-court player preferring doubles. I hit hard groundstrokes and close at the net whenever I can.

Current racquet/string setups: Head Prestige TGK238.2 prostock frame. Typically use Tour Bite at 48 lbs. Racquet is heavier in static weight at 365 grams but very head light.

How many hours did you play with the racquet? Approximately 15, hitting against various opponents from 4.0 to 5.0.

Comments on racquet performance:
-Groundstrokes:
My initial impressions after the very first hit were that is higher powered and the launch angle seemed high and inconsistent. I was able to get adjusted to the difference here and groundstrokes felt pretty solid all around. I didn't however feel that I was able to manipulate the ball around the court as precisely as I am used to. You are definitely rewarded for higher swing speeds with this stick but the touch just wasn't there. I also experienced more mishits with this frame that I attribute to the wider beam.

-Serves: This is where I felt this racquet performed the worst. Never was able to get as much pace or spin with this frame as I would expect. It felt sluggish and difficult to generate good wrist snap. Beyond this I started to develop pain in my shoulder from using this frame serving which I have never had before with any other racquet including the old black and red pure strike. I actually would consider the serve a liability with this racquet and this alone would prevent me from considering making the switch.

-Volleys: It was good for me on volleys. I was able to get crisp volleys that moved through the court and stability felt good on hard and heavy balls hit at me.

-Serve returns: Returns were pretty solid as well especially with harder hit first serves. I was able to put the ball back with good pace and the stability seemed good here as well. I did however have a harder time returning slower serves where I could take a good swing at the ball. Spin was lacking as was consistent directional control.

General reaction/comments on overall performance: My general feeling is that this frame is decent but far from a top performer. For me the beam is too wide and this frame needs to be more head light. The fact that I developed shoulder pain every time I played (serving) with this racquet that would go away when switching away from it tells me there are some real problems with the frame. Overall my feelings are that while it will work for some no doubt, but this for me is a step in the wrong direction from Babolat from the black and red pure strike. I never got a really good comfortable feeling with the frame and the overall performance was just lacking. Thank you so much for the opportunity to test this out and provide my feedback, but it's just not for me.
 
It is interesting you both have similar comments about the 16M. I am not experiencing inconsistencies in shot depth or direction with the Tour, I am now curious as to how the 16M differs from the Tour to induce inconsistencies, reduced weight/mass is enough to account for this? :unsure:
I also noticed that @Blade0324 also reported the same kind of launch angle issues - that review was after your post. In my case, I noticed this launch angle inconsistency most when I was in an offensive position and tried to press my advantage with a high racquet head speed shot. I think that as I get near the point where the racquet feels insufficiently massive for the speed of the swing, the response gets inconsistent, both by being non-linear in that you don't get additional ball speed that corresponds with the additional racquet head speed, but also that the launch angle gets inconsistent. That might happen because the hoop is bending in funny ways and/or is partly recoiling away from the contact point and providing inconsistent string/ball pressure that causes the launch angle to change.

I almost got the feeling at times that when I swung really hard, I couldn't be absolutely certain of where the ball made contact with the strings unless I caught it dead center of the sweetspot. Any kind of mis-hit would cause enough generalized wobbling that I couldn't be absolutely sure.
 

Blade0324

Hall of Fame
Very interesting comments Injured Again. I can say that I noticed the same thing. Seemed as if the faster I was swinging the more inconsistent the ball trajectory off the strings became. I almost had the feeling that the top of the hoop would lag behind the rest of the racquet making it difficult to predict the results of the ball off the strings. I noticed this a lot on serves as well.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
The additional weight of the Tour maybe THE fix for that. The 18M is also very predictable for me, but I did have to add a lot of weight into it for better balance.

Good reviews, thank you.
 
Very interesting comments Injured Again. I can say that I noticed the same thing. Seemed as if the faster I was swinging the more inconsistent the ball trajectory off the strings became. I almost had the feeling that the top of the hoop would lag behind the rest of the racquet making it difficult to predict the results of the ball off the strings. I noticed this a lot on serves as well.
Glad to hear you also feel that - I was starting to wonder if I just imagined it, especially since the racquet is pretty stable and consistent otherwise. I am pretty sure it is not a result of the string as I've used Tourna S7T in many other racquets and the response is linear and consistent up to my maximum swing speed.

The serves I recorded in that little video clip is as hard as I served with my Pure Strike. I never tried to pop one, and alligator-armed my overheads to protect my shoulder so never swung hard there either.

If it is just weird flex, I have a suspicion that added weight will make it worse.
 
Edit Correction: RDC numbers are practically the same and twist-weights are the same.
Interesting. That would imply that the internal structure of the hoop is relatively the same or identical. Where is the extra weight in the Tour, and how does adding two extra mains create more launch angle consistency? I've been doing an extended test of the 16X19 and 18X20 v7 Blades and there is no hint of this launch angle inconsistency despite me using the exact same string as in the Pure Strike and at basically the same tension. When I overlay the Pure Strike 16X19 over the Blade 16X19, the outer mains are about 2 mm narrower on each side on the Pure Strike, though the top cross is probably 4 mm higher and the bottom cross 6-7 mm lower than on the Blade. It's a pretty small difference when spread over so many strings and seems to indicate that the issue is caused by the frame and not the string.

I wonder if stringing up the Pure Strike with a thicker gauge and stiffer string would help by mimicking the greater stiffness of the 18X20?
 

dgoran

Hall of Fame
Edit Correction: RDC numbers are practically the same and twist-weights are the same.
I am sure there are manufacturing variances but tour and standard model i tried are different with tour playing way more comfortable even when std was string with multi and tour with alu power tour was still way more plusher and flexible but i noticed that (unfortunately) I am very sensitive to flex so I can detect flex differences easier than others again unfortunately lol
 

gutfeeling

Semi-Pro
Are the Tour and regular models listed with the same RA or is the Tour stiffer?
I think they have different layups. The vibration frequency measured by TWU is very different. Some might say the weight difference explains the difference in Hz though.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

gutfeeling

Semi-Pro
I am sure there are manufacturing variances but tour and standard model i tried are different with tour playing way more comfortable even when std was string with multi and tour with alu power tour was still way more plusher and flexible but i noticed that (unfortunately) I am very sensitive to flex so I can detect flex differences easier than others again unfortunately lol
I was on this playtest (still working on my write up) and I can confirm the regular 16x19 is stiff as indicated by the RA and vibration frequency. Basically stiff and polarized like most of Babolat’s current offerings. The tour most likely has more weight in the throat and a little more weight in the handle.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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I put four four-inch strips of lead tape at 3 and 9 o'clock (four grams total) and the feel doesn't change all that much, other than it is heavier to swing. It may be a little less jarring on mis-hits, especially high on the stringbed, but I'd have to test it back to back with and without the lead tape to know for sure. The basic characteristics are the same and it still includes that feeling of being a slight bit disjointed in how it flexes near or at my maximum capable swing speed on groundstrokes.

I don't believe I feel any of this when serving. With the lead tape, I felt comfortable swinging a fair bit harder, probably topping out in the lower 90's MPH on flat serves, so within 10 MPH of the hardest I can serve. To use as a guage, in the video I posted earlier, I'd estimate the fastest of those at 70 MPH. The lead tape seems to help the strings grab the ball a bit better on second serves and it feels more secure for my shoulder to serve a ball out wide but the racquet feels pretty stable.

I'll record some video the next chance I have - maybe someone can see some technique issue that might be causing this issue.
 

winchestervatennis

Hall of Fame
Babolat Pure Strike 18x20 3rd Gen Playtest (part 1 of 2)

Racquet Received
: 18x20.
String and tension used for test: Babolat RPM Blast Rough 17 @ 52 lbs.
Tennis experience/background: Began as a junior hitting with family at age 5. Started lessons and clinics with professional instruction around age 8 until age 15. Played 4 years of high school tennis in the lowest level of Virginia high school tennis playing #1 singles and doubles all 4 years (state runner up in singles and doubles one year). One year of club tennis at Virginia Tech. Gave up the game around 8 years from sophomore year in college until around age 28. Picked it back up when I moved to a new city in Maryland as a way to meet people – self rated at 4.0 that year with a pretty successful record. Bumped up to 4.5 after second year getting back into tennis via adult leagues and been there ever since. I was bumped to 5.0 after 2018 season, but was able to able to auto appeal back down to 4.5 for the 2019 season. I suppose there’s a chance I may get bumped again this year, but didn’t have the best results at South Carolina state or Southern sectionals.
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): Semi-western forehand grip and two-handed backhand mixing in many one handed backhand slices. In singles play I’d consider myself a grinder, but I’m been called the dreaded “P word” as well. I do move forward when the opportunity presents itself and I do finish points at the net, but as a grinder I generally get an unforced error before I’ve worked the point to a place where I hit an approach and finish with a volley. In doubles play I serve and volley maybe 80% of the time, both first and second serves. When returning I’m very aggressive trying to set up my partner for easy putaways. If the server isn’t coming to net, I will come to the net off my return or the next shot. When my partner is serving or returning, I’m a pretty aggressive net player. I prefer singles to doubles, mainly for the exercise, and probably play 75% singles and 25% doubles.
Current racquet/string setups: Babolat Pure Drive (2017) with Volkl V-Torque 17 @ 52 lbs. I jump around on string, but it’s always a poly and always at 52 lbs. Racquets prior to the Pure Drive were Head IG Prestige MP, Head i.Prestige Mid, Head Graphene Speed Pro, Head Youtek Prestige MP. I’m about 6’0” and 170 lbs; I run maybe 5 – 10 miles per week, but don’t do any resistance training. I LOVED the feel and control of the IG Prestige MP, but in early 2017 I was getting pushed around in singles play and decided I wasn’t strong enough to grind with the Prestige as effectively as I wanted so I switched to the Pure Drive in search of more power, which I clearly found.
How many hours did you play with the racquet? Around 16 hours. 2 singles matches, 2 singles hitting sessions, and 4 doubles matches.

Comments on racquet performance:
-Groundstrokes: Since I play more singles and doubles and I play a grinder style of play, I would consider groundstrokes to be the most important aspect of racquet performance. My absolute favorite part of the Pure Strike is the control. On general rally balls I was much more accurate in hitting targets which gave me the confidence to be more aggressive with my targets, i.e. moving targets closer to lines. I found the Pure Strike to be far less powerful than my normal Pure Drive and maybe somewhere in between the Pure Drive and my previous IG Prestige MP. As a result, my first time out with the Pure Strike led to rally balls landing shorter in the court, but I’ve been able to adjust to the reduction in power fairly easily. I really like that I’m able to really take full aggressive swings with my forehand and keep the ball in the court; this is something I’m not as comfortable doing with my Pure Drive. The trade-off, however, is that my groundstrokes are not as effective in terms of depth and pace when pushed wide and playing defense.

Another area that I thought really stuck out to me was the Pure Strike had an extremely consistent launch angle, which I think plays into the overall control of the racquet. One knock I have on my Pure Drive is that I feel like I can take the same swing multiple times and every so often the ball will come off the racquet with I much higher angle than I was anticipating and go long. I can’t say I experienced that sensation at all with the Pure Strike. And to prepare for the Playtest with an 18x20 as opposed to my normal 16x19, I hit with my old IG Prestige MP and also a Head 360 Speed Pro that I have. In my opinion the Pure Strike’s launch angle consistency maybe slightly below the IG Prestige MP, but better than the Speed Pro.

I found the overall feel of the racquet to be great. I’ve had some minor shoulder problems with my Pure Drive, but didn’t experience any pain or discomfort whatsoever with the Pure Strike. And when you hit the ball in the sweet spot of the Pure Strike, you and your opponent both know it. That said, I am prone to some mishits which were probably more easy pickings for my opponents that they would be with the 100 square in Pure Drive. But I think that’s on me and my footwork more than it is on the Pure Strike.

Spin potential was more than adequate for my game. The spin potential was less than the Pure Drive as I’d expect, but I didn’t notice that I was getting far less spin than with the Pure Drive. In fact, just this afternoon a regular hitting partner of mine commented that he thought I was getting more topspin than normal. My semi-western forehand probably produces average spin and isn’t really a weapon like most players so I don’t rely on a heavy topspin forehand to dictate a point or even produce a lot of winners. On the other hand, my backhand is where I tend to dictate play by really varying between two handed drives, two handed loopy topspin, one handed slice drives, and one handed slice floaters. I was able to hit all my backhand variations, in particular the two handed drive and one handed slice drive, very effectively.

Overall groundstroke performance: A-

-Serves: Full disclaimer, my serve is not a strong suit of my game and most of the time I just spin it in at 85% with the intention of getting the point started without allowing my opponent to go on offense immediately. With the Pure Strike I was able to hit flat serves more consistently than I am with the Pure Drive which gave me the confidence to use that serve more often. I also felt the exceptional control in serving with the Pure Strike as well which allowed me to be more aggressive in placement rather than just going for the opponent’s forehand or backhand. Overall, I think my serving was more effective with the Pure Strike than with the Pure Drive and could be even more effective with continued practice and use of the frame.

Overall serve performance: A
 

winchestervatennis

Hall of Fame
Babolat Pure Strike 18x20 3rd Gen Playtest (part 2 of 2)

-Volleys: A+ grading it first because I really enjoyed volleying with this racquet. I found the Pure Strike to be very maneuverable at net and solid as well. With my Pure Drive I find it can be difficult to get my racquet into position on low volleys and as a result I’m playing defense or just trying to get the ball back over the net. However, with the Pure Strike I never had trouble getting the racquet where it needed to be and instead of just trying to punch low volleys back deep into the court, I’m able to play a wider array of shots which makes me that much more effective at the net. I’m also going to lump approach shots into the volley category. My coach growing up was more of an old school serve & volley and chip & charge kind of guy so a lot of the times when I’m coming to net it’s off a slice approach shot. And I’m not talking about a floating chip, I’m talking about a driving slice off either the forehand or backhand wing. The control and consistent launch angle of the Pure Strike make the driving slice shot extremely accurate and effective for me which of course makes the next volley that much easier.

Overall volley performance: A+ (from the department of redundancy department)

-Serve returns: Serve returns were another highlight of the Pure Strike for me, particularly in doubles. As a weaker server I rely on my return to keep me in doubles matches and I’m normally able to do so more often than not. The feel and control of the frame allowed me to consistently make opponents volley up off their first volley – I was drooling when I saw opponents serve and volleying. The maneuverability that benefits volleys with the Pure Strike transfers to the short backswings I use in serve returns making the shot a weapon. I will say that similar to groundstrokes, the mishits led to some floaters that could be handled easily by the serving team, but those occasions were rare and probably due more to my adaptation, or lack thereof, from a normal 100 square inch head to a 98.

Overall serve returns performance: A

General reaction/comments on overall performance: The Pure Strike 18x20 is an excellent frame! As I noted above, I play 75% singles and 25% doubles; if those numbers were flipped I would switch to the Pure Strike today. No question about it. But as a grinder that doesn’t have a forehand or serve as a weapon, there are a lot of occasions in a singles match where I’m on the run and playing defense; the Pure Drive has the edge over the Pure Strike in that category in my opinion. So the lazy way out is sticking with my game as-is with the Pure Drive. But isn’t part of the fun of tennis trying to evolve your game by improving your weaknesses? I could add some resistance training, develop my forehand and serve, and try to improve overall tennis game. If I’m serious about doing that, I think the Pure Strike 18x20 would be the frame I would choose. My playtest doesn’t end here. I’m going to keep using the Pure Strike 18x20 for the time being and see where it takes me.

Happy to answer any questions anyone may have regarding my review or experience with the Pure Strike 18x20.

A big THANK YOU to both Babolat and especially Tennis Warehouse for including me in this playtest.

Regards,

winchestervatennis
 

topspn

Hall of Fame
Racquet Received: PS 16x19
String and tension used for test: Tourna Silver 7 Tour and Solinco Revolution both in 1.25mm and at 48lbs.
Tennis experience/background: I grew up as a kid on the mediterranean shores where soccer/football is the godly sport. We however had tennis courts close to the beach where I lived and tons of kids played tennis. I started around the age of 7 and played almost everyday for hours. I moved to the US at the age of 18 for college and didn’t know a thing about college tennis programs so never pursued it. I played three sports growing up so ended up playing soccer for 4 years of school and tennis unfortunately disappeared for 20 years or so. Got back into tennis over 10 years ago and play USTA 18+, 40+ and private leagues. Highest USTA rating i got is 4.5. Currently trying to lose 20lbs and work on fitness off court as I think that would improve my game the most.
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): All court with a 1hbh and a big serve. I like to put pressure on my opponents and move in and i do sprinkle in some serve and volley.
Current racquet/string setups: My most recent racquet that i played for over a year was an Angell TC95. Strung specs 344g/32cm balance. I have been trying different racquets looking for a slightly more closed string pattern. The PS fits in with the more closed center with 8 main strings in the throat of the racquet and so does the Blade 16x19.
How many hours did you play with the racquet? At least 25 hours of playing time and 4 or 5 matches.

-Groundstrokes:
Fairly straightforward really, in the sense that you readily feel at home with this racquet. You hit groundstrokes right off the bat well and there is no big adjustment. The frame has some easy power but directional precision or control is pretty decent which i attribute to the 8 mains in the throat. The center of the string bed is not as open as a PD or PA. Power level is not as pronounced as Bab tweeners but it’s certainly there. This version does hit a bit more plush than the p17 it replaces. I also agree with the comments that it pockets a bit more and launch a bit higher. There might have been some adjustment in the spacing of the crosses to achieve that. Compared to another new frame the blade 16x19, the center of the string bed is wider on the crosses in the PS. No trouble whatsoever hitting big spin on either side and it does bail you out defensively hitting from awkward positions with good return power. There is that bit of tweener easiness just packaged with higher precision. I did miss the additional control and exactness of the p17 but welcome the more plush feel of this one. I played the frame stock for a couple of times but really needed to bring up the weight. It is just my preference but i’m sure a lot of people would be happy with it stock. With a leather grip and some weight, I got it up to 339g and 31.9 cm balance. It did not make a radical change but did obviously hit a heavier ball and felt more solid.
-Serves:
Just a fabulous serving stick. You can ease off and hit a 70% 1st serve and still get pretty decent pace if you choose to. Alas, it is addictive and of course you go for more. No trouble with any serve flat, spin or kick. Even had decent success with sharp angle spin serve on the deuce side really swinging out nicely. Kicks to the ad also kicking wide and out are also fun with this frame. Truly not much to complain about at all on serve. Also really makes for some fun serve and volley situations.
-Volleys:
Truly point and shoot as they say. You have someone blasting a volley at you just move the head in place and let the racquet do the work. It is stable and punches the ball back with authority to wherever you’re pointing. A bit more shoulder movement into your volley and it is a weapon for sure. The bit of plushness gained on this version was also nice on 1/2 volleys and added some touch. I still wouldn’t consider touch to be a highlight but its a bit better then P17. It is really the stability and punch you get on volleys that make this frame effective.
-Serve returns:
My frame is 330SW strung and i got it up to around 12oz but no trouble with quickness or moving it on reaction returns. The solid response also gives some ability to return deeper without too much fuss. If you have the time, you can carve out some nice angles with good spin returns but big servers don’t give you time and as i mentioned blocking shots is effective. I did have to be careful as it is easy to give away points overhitting on returns. This frame requires a keep it simple compact swing and not let the power seduce you into going bigger and stealing time away from you to be effective and give away points.

General reaction/comments on overall performance:

This is an easy frame to pick up and play and pretty similar to the P17.The main differences are a bit more power on this one and a bit plusher feel with a higher launch angle. I could have easily done without the increased launch angle in all honesty. I have also been playing the new blade 16x19 and while the PS is plusher then previous version but really not in the same realm of the blade. The PS has more power and a more solid feel. The blade is more connected, has greater comfort, lower launch angle and higher control. The PS leans towards more power and a little less control compared to the blade or even previous p17.

I still really enjoy the heavy balls on either side and big serving capability. Really enjoy on defense as well with ability to just power back some shots that are not so viable with a lesser frame. You have to play a bit more conscious to not try to go for too much and on just any shot. Or perhaps i should have upped tension a bit from 48lbs but that was the tension i stuck with throughout. I found Silver 7 tour to give it the higher control over revolution.

I am playing more with Blade right now but I am keeping this frame in my bag and will experiment with tension and string a bit more. To be honest, if the blade didn’t turn out to have this really great balance of power/control/feel i would have moved on to the PS. I will probably try Tour Bite which I am using on the Blade as i am pretty happy with level of control. A pretty fun playtest for sure and a racquet that could benefit a lot of people out there. Thanks so much TW and Babolat for offering this kind of engagement to us, it is certainly very worthwhile.
 
Last edited:
Racquet Received: Pure Strike Tour

String and tension used for test: Solinco Hyper-G at 53 lbs, Kirschbaum Pro Line Evolution at 53 lbs.

Tennis experience/background: 4.5 player. Played for a very good high school tennis team and since graduating high school in 2007 I've been playing casually in leagues and also recently started playing USTA. I play mostly doubles nowadays

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): In singles I try to play an all-court game although I still play mainly baseline with a heavy topspin forehand and a flatter backhand. I don't typically serve huge but try to place it well with spins and variety. I pretty much play the same way in doubles but try to be aggressive when at net.

Current racquet/string setups: Yonex EZONE 98 with a variety of strings, my favorite string setup is usually a smooth and round poly at around 53 lbs.

How many hours did you play with the racquet? About 20, mostly playing doubles and just hitting around. Played a couple sets of singles now and then


Comments on racquet performance:

-Groundstrokes: Loved the feel from the ground. I had been using the EZONE for a while but had been thinking going back to a heavier stick so I could hit a heavier and deeper ball. My forehand was on point with this racket and I loved the heavy but maneuverable feel. My forehand is naturally very whippy so while I did notice that the racket has a pretty high launch angle my ball always almost dipped back into the court with heavy spin which was very helpful in doubles baseline rallies. Backhand was very solid although I had a tougher time adjusting. My backhand swing tends to be more compact and flatter than my forehand so it usually takes some time for me to get used to a new racket on the backhand wing. It's not where I want it to be yet but I feel like it'll eventually get there since I plan on using this racket a lot more.

-Serves: Serves were very solid with this racket due to it's hefty weight but maneuverability which allowed me to swing fast. Since I play mostly doubles I tend not to go for many flat bombs and just try to mix it up with spins to keep a high first serve percentage which this racket allowed me to do pretty well. The EZONE is one of my favorite rackets to serve with so I'm not sure if the PST is as good as the EZONE but it’s definitely still great for serving

-Volleys: Comparable to most other Babolat rackets I’ve used, I actually find that they are underrated for volleying and the PST was no different. I volleyed really well in both singles and doubles with this racket, but particularly in doubles. For singles, most of the volleys I hit were simple put aways off an approach shot but I hit a wide variety of volleys in doubles and this racket did well in all of them. When at net in doubles I try not to back off the net at all even if my opponent is in a very offensive position so I need a highly maneuverable but stable racket for reflex shots which the PST definitely provides.

-Serve returns: Very stable and solid. I always try to return on the rise and the PST was a very solid returning racket. As long as I made clean contact I was almost always able to neutralize a big serve or take advantage of a weaker second serve. On off-center hits most of my returns were still going in.

General reaction/comments on overall performance: I’ve only hit briefly with previous versions of the non-tour Pure Strikes so I can’t really compare the newest version to any of the older ones but all I know for sure is that the PST still has the maneuverable and whippy feel of the other Pure Strikes which allows me to take big swings and still have the ball dip in. I definitely prefer the PST over my EZONE and will be playing with the PST as my main racket from now on. Only issue I am having so far is that I’ve started to develop some minor shoulder pain since using this racket. I’ve never had shoulder pain before using this racket so I’m not completely sure it’s due to the racket and I don’t think it’s the strings either. Without the shoulder issue I probably would have purchased another one since I am playing in a lot of leagues but for now I’ll stick to using my playtest stick for the rest of the season and go from there.

Thanks again to Babolat and TW for the opportunity!
 

PhxRacket

Professional
Thank Babolat and TW for this play test.
Racquet Received: Pure Strike 18x20 3rd Gen
String and tension used for test: VS Touch Mains 16g @ 52# and RPM Blast Crosses 16g @ 48#
Tennis experience/background: Played since I was 8, now 52. Ranked as a junior, played two years collegiate Ky and then took a 25 year layoff. Returned to teach my son, coach at my old high school and play socially and competitively.
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): I am a throwback, all court player. Predictably, I have a big serve, love the plus one forehand, live and die at the net. I mostly play doubles as I am too old and slow to offer up much in the way of singles. I play best with heavier, flexier racquets with a highish twistweight.
Current racquet/string setups: I am an admitted racquetholic so I don’t have just one racquet. I have spent the last month playing my Dunlop CX 200 Tour 18x20 strung with Vanquish and Hyper G.
How many hours did you play with the racquet? 20.

Comments on racquet performance:
-Groundstrokes:
The Strike 18x20 was a groundstroke beast. I could hit depth, lines, spin, into narrow space. It was very easy to hit quality ground strokes. I would, and will, add putty to tail weight it a little. Very stable against hard-hitting 5.0 opponents and friends. Took a minute to dial in depth, but probably more a function of the gut mains. 9/10
-Serves: Superior. I could hit big, flat bombs down the T, into the corners. It wasn’t very hard to get s9me spicy action on kick serves and nasty ad-court sliders. I felt like I could hit big serves without the ridiculously high swing weight of other racquets. 10/10
-Volleys: This was the interesting part of the play test for me. I normally over cook midcourt, swinging volleys, but the PS helped me create enough spin that these were staying in play. I put away a good amount of balls at the net. Even defensive, off-balance volleys we’re working. Overheads were fun with the PS. 10/10
-Serve returns: I found the PS to be very stable hitting or blocking back all manner of serves. I wish it were a little more HL and I could whip through returns. If i had trouble with returns it as user error. 8.5/10

General reaction/comments on overall performance:
This was a fun play test. I enjoyed social tennis, drills, and most importantly, competition. It was easy for me to use. I have never strung a hybrid like I did and I WILL BE DOING IT AGAIN. My hitting partners were surprised at the depth and spin that the PS was putting out. I wish it hit as heavy a ball as the Blade v7. There were vibrations, and off center hits were not fun, but I was able to spend a lot of time with the Ps without elbow discomfort.

Thank you TW and Babolat for Allowing me to contribute to this play test. I have been lucky enough to test a few racquets and I can recommend this one to anyone with solid technique.
 

SJSA

Professional
Racquet Received: Pure Strike 16x19 3rd Gen, 10.6 oz unstrung

String and tension used for test: Babolat Excel 17g @54lbs (11.1oz strung, 11.5 oz with a dampener and overgrip)

Tennis experience/background: I have played tennis 20+ years. Last 10 years, I have regularly played in single and double two or three times a week. I used to be a racketaholic and played with more than 60 different racquets of major brands.

Describe your playing style: 4.0 aggressive baseliner with an eastern forehand and one-handed backhand. I prefer to play a thin and open string pattern racquet with under 60 RDC stiffness due to tennis elbow.

Current racquet/string setups: Prince Phantom 100/Klip Natural Gut 17g @54 lbs

How many hours did you play with the racquet? 7 hours in Single & 16 hours in Double


Comments on racquet performance:

-Groundstrokes: Stable, Spin, Power & Muted Feel. Its plow-through was great in spite of its light weight. I felt rock solid even hitting heavy balls and the feel provided stability and power on my winner shots. However, I couldn’t find the big control advantage using this racquet for myself as advertised. This PS with the new dampening technology, (C² Pure Feel) provided definitely more comfortable compared to the previous version but the dampened feel sometimes disconnected with the ball.

-Serves: Fast & Furious. I enjoyed serving with this racquet. My first (flat) serves were shined with excessive power like rocket. It was easy to generate nice spin with ample power for my second service as well.

-Volleys: Stability & Mobility. My favorite part of the playtest was volleying with this racquet. The stability, mobility and solid response with the large sweet spot are pleasant to volley. I was impressed with how easy it was to get the racquet in position and how solid it felt at contact when at net.

-Serve returns: Solid but Muted. The racquet was a little sluggish to swing through the return because I am used to play with a head light racquet. However, I was able to hit aggressive returns with rock-solid feel on my returns when I used a compact swing. The muted feel had me looking for a bit more feedback and response though.

General reaction/comments on overall performance: This 3rd Gen PS is a solid, spin friendly and powerful racquet. This racquet is great for a beginner or intermediated player who doesn’t have a big arm issue. However, I believe most previous PS users would miss the crisp feel from this new version.

I sincerely appreciate TW and Babolat giving me this opportunity.
 

gutfeeling

Semi-Pro
Executive Summary:
  • I playtested the Pure Strike 16x19 standard 305 gram model; my particular frame arrived slightly under spec and it probably would have benefited from customization to bring it up to spec.
  • I have been playing tennis for 25+ years and have played competitively using multiple Babolat offerings; however, I would not pick this frame over other current Babolat offerings or the Wilson v7 Blade 18x20, my current frame of choice.
  • I think this frame would be a good fit for smaller/weaker players that want easier power and access to spin. Stronger players with more developed strokes may not appreciate the boost provided by this frame and may be frustrated by its lack of consistency.
  • This frame has a lot of weight in the head - see section titled "Comments on Racquet Performance" for more details on this topic.
  • @Babolat Official: please consider decreasing the twist weight of your frames (weight in the head) and increasing their flexibility – our arms will thank you for this!
  • @TW Staff: thank you for giving me the opportunity to playtest and share my/learn about others’ experience with Babolat’s third gen Pure Strike offerings.
Racquet Received:

Pure Strike 16x19 standard 305 gram model. Mine arrived slightly under spec: 303 grams, 32 cm balance, 292 swing weight (all measured unstrung with plastic on the handle).

String and tension used for test:

Solinco Tour Bite 1.30 strung at 44 lbs on my constant pull stringer. I had a reel of it and I usually play every new frame with this string. It is not overly stiff, pockets well, and has a low powered response, which I find complements Babolat frames well.

Tennis experience/background:

I am in my early 30s. I have played for 25+ years, with long breaks during college and grad school. I played the most leading up to high school (USTA tournaments, high school team). Recently I have been playing USTA league tennis at the 4.0 and 4.5 level – singles, doubles, and mixed. I’d say since 2014 I have been playing consistently 1-3x per week, year round.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley):

I like to grind from the baseline – I prefer singles over doubles. I usually come to net when I have an easy volley or clear advantage. I am working on moving forward more frequently and earlier in the point. I should probably serve and volley more - I am 6’5 and relatively athletic, I think, so power is not an issue. Consistency and tactics are my biggest areas for improvement.

Current racquet/string setups:

Stock Wilson v7 Blade 18x20 – no modifications other than Wilson Pro over grip. I currently use stiff, thin polys (e.g. Tour Bite, Max Power, 4G) at 44 lbs in gauges between 1.20 and 1.25.

How many hours did you play with the racquet?

In total about an hour across multiple sessions. Sorry, I just love my v7 Blade 18x20 so much.

Comments on racquet performance:

Apologies in advance, I am a tennis equipment geek. Thank you @TW Professor for all the great data and content you make available. If you have no interest in reading me ramble about racquet weight distribution, then I recommend you skip ahead to the Groundstrokes section.

Off the bat, I want to mention I don’t have the benefit of comparing this third gen Pure Strike to the previous version. Years ago I had a brief fling with the first gen Pure Strike 100, but it was heavily modified and quite frankly a disaster. From what I remember, the first gen was much less stable than this third gen version.

Before switching to my current stick, the v7 Blade 18x20, I played the 2019 Pure Aero for about a year. Before that I played the Aeropro Drive Plus original (the 2005 model I believe) for roughly 2 years. I probably played my best USTA league tennis with that stick. Ultimately I had to put it down because it was very raw since it lacked dampening tech (e.g. no Cortex) – combined with stiff poly, it beat up my left wrist on my two-handed backhand.

If I had to pick a Babolat frame on the market today, it would probably be the 2019 Pure Aero Plus over the standard length Pure Aero 2019, and also over the third gen Pure Strike which I playtested. There is something about the extra leverage and 2 extra points HL the Babolat plus models give you.

Also, the plus models have less weight in the head, which for me makes them easier/more natural to swing, regardless of swing weight. I have long arms.

Generally, I use a frame’s swing weight and twist weight measurements to gauge how much weight it has in the head. It doesn’t take a lot of weight at the top of the hoop to increase a frame’s swing weight. It takes substantially more weight (roughly 2x) to achieve the same swing weight increase with weight at 3 and 9. Consequently, a frame with a higher twist weight will have more weight in the head than a frame with same swing weight but lower twist weight.

For me, the extra weight in the head also tends to put a lot of torque on my elbow, especially on the serve and forehand. That is one of the main reasons I had to move on from the Pure Aero 2019. If anything the torque could be an even bigger culprit than the stiffness of Babolat frames. I never experienced elbow pain with my Aeropro Drive Plus, which was equally as stiff as the current Babolat models but had much less weight in the head (and lower twist weight).

If you are wondering why I am harping on this now, it’s because it was one of my main issues with the Pure Strike 16x19 third gen I playtested. It has a relatively high twist weight (14.8). After just a few serves, I could feel my elbow starting to twinge/ache slightly. It was pretty off putting.

To be fair, poor mechanics is certainly a factor. My toss can drift and I tend to arm the ball more than I should. I am working on tossing more into the court and using my legs and kinetic chain more. Also, I can still feel elbow pain with the v7 Blade 18x20 at times.

But I think Babolat’s combination of the head weight/high twistweight and stiffness is a potential arm wrecker for certain people. I can’t tell you the number of reviews I’ve read about the second gen Pure Strike, or the Pure Aero 2019, in which people said they loved the frame but it hurt their arm. Coincidentally, the second gen Pure Strike has a twistweight of 15.1. Same thing for the Pure Aero 2019, which has a twistweight of 15.4.

I understand what Babolat is trying to do with this combination. Their frames are rock solid and stable despite their low overall weights, which makes them maneuverable and accessible to players of all levels. If anything, I am raising this issue so potential buyers at least consider the weighting of their frame and the corresponding pros and cons.

I will continue to support Babolat, but not this particular offering. Though due to their popularity on the courts, it works for a lot of people, and that does not surprise me.

Groundstrokes:

My first impression was that the third gen Pure Strike 16x19 had a really high launch angle. I compensated by either trying to drive the ball more or by holding back (decreasing my swing speed). As a result my consistency suffered.

The sweetspot feels nice and plush, I got a nice sense of pocketing. Though the sweetspot is somewhat generous, it felt rather low in the stringbed. My third gen Pure Strike 16x19 came in slightly under spec in terms of weight and swingweight, so maybe a little lead in the top half of the hoop would have helped with that.

I felt slight discomfort when I didn’t hit the sweet spot. The frame is firm, but frankly more comfortable and less stiff than some of Babolat’s other offerings, like the Pure Aero and Pure Drive. I think Babolat did a good job of adding dampening tech to mute the frame on mishits. However, I could not play this frame without a dampener, as I find is the case with every Babolat I have played.

Serves, volleys, returns:

I did not hit a lot of serves with the third gen Pure Strike 16x19, but I had a similar experience as with my groundstrokes: easy power, tons of spin, and relatively low consistency.

I did not hit a lot of volleys with the third gen Pure Strike 16x19, but the head weighting and firmness of the frame made it pretty stable. It was also pretty maneuverable because of its low overall weight.

I did not hit a lot of returns with the third gen Pure Strike 16x19, but I had a similar experience as with my groundstrokes: easy power, tons of spin, and relatively low consistency. Generally that is one nice thing about Babolat frames: due to their head weight and stiffness they are great returning sticks and do a great job of hitting through hard serves. They are also relatively maneuverable, so I had no problem getting sufficient racquet head speed on sitters.

General reaction/comments on overall performance:

The third gen Pure Strike 16x19 is not for me, BUT I think it is a strong offering by Babolat for players that need or want a little performance boost in terms of power and access to spin. This stick is more comfortable compared to other Babolat frames I have played, and I hear it is more comfortable than the second gen. Well done Babolat and thank you @TW Staff for giving me the opportunity to playtest!
 
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bfroxen

New User
Racquet Received: Pure Strike 16x19

String and tension used for test: Tecnifibre Multifeel 16 at 55/53 lbs.

Tennis experience/background: I decided to learn how to play tennis about two years ago, when my daughter, who played on her middle school team, started to beat me. I'm now on the courts 5 days/week, mostly hitting with guys who are much better than me, but I've played some UTR tournaments and in a 4.0 flex league.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): I'm most effective from the baseline, but I want to be an all-court player, so I come to the net whenever I can. At my level, my topspin groundstrokes and serve are better than most, but my volley, slice, and touch shot game can't compete with guys who've been playing much longer.

Current racquet/string setups: Yonex DR 98 (285g), with some weight in the handle, strung with Tecnifibre Multifeel. I'm down to two of these after cracking one that slipped while serving, and two is not enough for how fast I break the Multifeel, so I've been looking at other racquets. I haven't played with anything I like as much as the DR 98s, but the Pure Strike was right up there.

How many hours did you play with the racquet? Only a bit over two hours. Unfortunately, even with the soft string, this racquet made my elbow hurt the next day. I normally play with a 4-5/8 grip, so the 4-3/8 grip probably didn't help. I played with it three different times, about half of each session with my Yonex and the other half with the Pure Strike.

Comments on racquet performance:
-Groundstrokes:
Easy pace and spin! I could feel the extra swingweight of this racquet compared to my normal racquets, and it just felt solid. If I didn't have the elbow problem, I would have liked to hit with it a lot more.
-Serves: I hit a hopper of ~50 serves. That wasn't enough to really get used to it, but it did seem like I was able to get a bit more power than with my Yonex.
-Volleys: I enjoyed the extra mass of this frame on volleys, too. I have trouble getting good punch on my volleys without losing control, and that seemed easier with this racquet.
-Serve returns: I didn't return any serves.

General reaction/comments on overall performance:
Other than the elbow pain, I liked everything else about this racquet. I liked the somewhat muted feel and the dense 16x19 pattern. The head shape is just right, and it just looks and feels like a quality racquet.

Unstrung, the racquet was 302g with a 32.6cm balance point; just a bit light in the handle. Strung, it was 317g with a 33.6 cm balance point and an swingweight of 325.
 

smboogie

Rookie
Racquet Received: Pure Strike Gen3 16x19 98sqin

String and tension used for test:
Hybrid: RPM/xCel 51/53lbs

Tennis experience/background:
Strong USTA 4.0 Player. Playing tennis for 30 years or so.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley):
All Court player, comfortable at the net. I play with spin w/a semi-western FH and 2 handed BH. I prefer HL frames so I can whip the ball more.

Current racquet/string setups:
PureAero (2016) Hybrid 52/54

How many hours did you play with the racquet?
12+, Mix of match play and drilling

Comments on racket performance:
It did take me a bit of time in the beginning to adjust to this frame from a slightly lighter Pure Aero.

-Groundstrokes:
Very solid and controllable from both sides. Off center shots not as forgiving but the additional feel opens up more shots around the court. The racket is a bit more head heavy than I'm used to, but it allows for better plow through.

-Serves:
Regular/relaxed speed serving is very easy with the frame as it feels that it just wants to go through and make clean contact. Pushing for more power took some adjustment but overall I was able to generate pace and good spin, both top and kick spin serves had great movement.

-Volleys:
Crisp and solid as the racket maintains its composure at the net even when the player might not. Doesn't get easily pushed around like lighter frames can, rewarding the player with a good feel, controlled response and improved shot execution.

-Serve returns:
I personally had some issues at first which I think had to do with timing & confidence. The PS is slightly heavier than my regular frame causing me to be a bit late, but once I adjusted serve returns where solid and easy to direct. Footwork is rewarded here as always.

General reaction/comments on overall performance:
Coming from the PureAero my adjustment to this PureStrike was not too challenging as specs wise they are not that different, however, it did take some time and patience but you will be rewarded for it. This is a great frame for your intermediate+ players that want to soften up their frames for improved feel and gain access to deeper shot selection. The more I play with this racket the more I enjoy its feel and control to the point that I am thinking of switching to this frame for the future with some slight tweaks. I am going to try replacing the stock grip with a leather grip to add a little bit more weight to the handle and then use an overwrap which should make it a little more headlight which I prefer. If power is a concern then stringing it a bit lighter would definitely give shots a bit more pop while keeping the feel/control that this frame really shines with. Overall this frame is a really great product with Babolat taking great strides to soften it up, making it more arm friendly, but not eliminating the feel/control of a box beam frame that many advanced players look for.

I wanted to say a quick Thank You to Tennis Warehouse for allowing me to be a part of this play test, I really enjoyed the opportunity and look forward to future equipment testing.
 

jwocky

Rookie
Thank you to @TW Staff and Babolat (@Babolat Official) for providing this opportunity to participate in my first TW racquet play test.

Racquet:Babolat Pure Strike Tour 3rd Gen (16 x 19)
StringTourna Black ZoneBabolat RPM Blast RoughBabolat Xcel
Gauge:1.25mm1.25mm1.25mm
Tension used:23.6kg/52lbs22.7kg/50lbs27.7kg/61lbs
Tension revision:24.5kg/54lbs23.6kg/52lbsnone
How many hours did you play with the racquet?10107.5
Tension notes:I am reluctant to lower the tension because the string bed actually felt a bit softer than I like with the Tourna BZ 17 and the RPM Blast Rough 17 at 50/52. In fact, on the next go around I will marginally increase tension on the polys - the arm will be able to tell if that is better or worse. In contrast, the full bed of Xcel at 61 felt very good until it broke.
Tennis experience/background:Play 4 to 5 times weekly about 10 to 15 hours on hard courts mostly.

Played from age 10 to 25 y.o. on red clay (75%), two decade break and have been playing weekly after that. Played for the high school team, then in universty intra-mural tournaments, and now play competitively as well as in social groups.

Mix of singles 15% and doubles 85%, but mostly doubles in competitive leagues.
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley):All court player focused on point construction using variety in ball placement, and speed around the court. In doubles, I am good at the net and finding angles with drop shots and top spin dippers.
Current racquet/string setups:Quarterly rotation through a group of Prince EXO3 Graphite 93 <-> Dunlop Aerogel 4D 200 Tour 16x18 <-> Dunlop Aerogel 4D 200 18x20 <-> Volkl Organix 10 (325).

All of these racquets are in the 360-370 gram range and balance of 30.5cm (12 points head light) and have beams of 19mm, 20mm and 20mm, respectively.

The Organix 10 are the stiffest racuets in the collection and my least favorite in the cycle - I bought them to appreciate a stiffer racquet and still working on it.

All 1.25mm in the 22kg +/-1 (48lb) range with Kirschbaum Pro Line Evolution, Tourna Black Zone.

I am not a string breaker in any of my regular racquets, but do restring after 15-20 hours of play depending on the type of players on the opposing side.
Comments on racquet performance:
-Groundstrokes:8.5 Solid generally and it felt good on most strokes (forehand drives, one handed backhand, heavily sliced approaches), but a bit jarring at times on some off-center shot.

On the other hand, this was mitigated because I could really appreciate the generous "sweet spot" in comparison to the Organix 10 325g. And, even though they have very similar specs in other respects I could feel the stiffness of the PST3G in my forearm after playing with it exclusively. I still prefer the Aerogel 4D 200 Tour over the Pure Strke Tour and this may be the difference in their flex/stiffness.
-Serves:9.0 Excellent power and control vis a vis placement. Starting off points with a deep, well-placed served helped bootstrap confidence in what is a relatively stiff racquet for me in the context of serves and groundstrokes.
-Volleys:8.0 Felt a bit sluggish occasionally on backhand reaction volleys at the net and framed some bang bang doubles volleys. May be the slightly wider beam than I use typically (19-20mm) with the racquets in my cycle see list above? Don't know.
-Serve returns:9.0 Excellent experience returning power serves given the mass of this racquet. It was a confidence enabled on blocks, chips, sliced backhand, and forehand drives. On one-handed top spin backhand return of a softer second serve, i felt it was sluggish and I had a little less control, but it was most likely operator preparation error. :)
General reaction/comments on overall performance:For each string I played one session with the racquet in near stock form with a thin overgrip for an hour before adding a second overgrip and increasing the weight to 365 grams and adjusting the balance to 12 points HL for subsequent sessions with the same string.

Overall - I liked this racquest relative to the Babolat APD and Pure Drive I tested locally years ago. However, it is not the Pure Storm LTD GT, which was a great racquet.

I intend to keep this racquet in the rotation and experiment with different string to convince myself I need to upgrade to a new set.
 
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gatorbait

Rookie
Racquet Received: Pure Strike 18x20 3rd Gen
String and tension used for test: Volkl Cyclone 17 Yellow
Tennis experience/background: Started playing post college back in 2002. Currently USTA rated @ 4.5, UTR 7.25. Play a lot of USTA league tennis/tournaments. Have been consistently taken coaching lessons since starting the sport.
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): I’m an aggressive counterpuncher who hits heavy topspin on both sides. My strengths are my fitness, speed. Although I hit the ball w/ good pace and power, I’m smaller in stature (5’7”), and can’t generate the power as some of the larger guys I’ve played against. I would say Ferrer is the pro I would most try to emulate.
Current racquet/string setups:For the last 5yrs I have played w/ a slightly customized Babolat Pure Control Tour 98 w/ Volkl Cyclone @ 52. In the last month, I have to switched over to the Head Gravity Pro w/ 4grams of weight in the handle, also w/ Volkl Cyclone @ 52lbs.
How many hours did you play with the racquet? 8hrs, singles only.

Comments on racquet performance:
-Groundstrokes:
From the ground, I felt pretty comfortable w/ this racquet. As compared to my Pure Control Tour (PCT) or Gravity Pro(GP) I could easily pick up this racquet and play with it without much adjustment. I felt as I could easily retain depth control and keep my opponent pinned to the baseline. I also felt as if I had enough control to give me enough confidence to work the corners and sidelines. For the spin potential, I felt it was somewhat similar to either the PCT or GP. The plow through on this racquet is better than my PCT, but not as good at the GP. I felt it was really easy to swing and would benefit by adding just a bit of weight to the hoop to improve the plow through while still keeping it maneuverable. Lastly, I felt the feel was not as good as either my PCT or GP. In a sense I felt slightly disconnected from the ball as either of my other racquets. Not sure if extra mass in hoop would improve on this.
-Serves: Serves felt good w/ this racquet. Hitting a flat serve felt really nice w/ this racquet. I seemed as if I could generate a lot of pop on this serve. Probably better than my PCT, equivalent to my GP. Hitting a slice or kick felt equivalent to either my PCT or GP. I also wonder if a bit of weight in the hoop in improve the serve a bit more.
-Volleys:
I played all singles w/ this racquet and had more limited volleys. The volleys w/ this racquet were equivalent to either PCT or GP. For me the racquet is easily maneuverable and did not have any issues w/ volleys.
-Serve returns:
I also agree w/ most that returns feel good w/ this racquet. Good stability along w/ easy maneuverability make this racquet easy to return with. I felt extremely comfortable returning no matter if it was defensive/neutral or aggressive type of return.

General reaction/comments on overall performance:
Overall this is a really nice racquet, I could easily pick up this racquet and play and feel pretty comfortable w/o hardly any adjustments. This racquet feels a bit stiffer than either my PCT or GP and I think this is why I feel slightly disconnected from the ball when I strike the ball. I would also want to add a bit of lead in the hoop to slightly improve the plow through. It's not that the plow through is bad, but it not as good as my GP.

Thank you TW for the opportunity to playtest.
 

scotus

G.O.A.T.
scotus' review of babolat pure strike 2019 16x19

Racquet Received: Pure Strike 2019 16X19
String and tension used for test: Tecnifibre HDX Tour 16 gauge 57 lbs, machine prestretched 20%
Tennis experience/background: Played highest level at 4.5 NTRP, currently 4.0 or less.
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): All court, mixed with serve & volley and chip & charge.
Current racquet/string setups: Dunlop Revelation Pro Tour Superlong +1.00
How many hours did you play with the racquet? 25 hours.

Comments on racquet performance:
-Serves:
Pure Strike is a great racquet for serving. Lots of pop on demand. I don't really have to try to hit a powerful serve. Just a loose and relaxed swing gets the job done. Fairly good accuracy and plenty of action on slice and kicks.

-Volleys:
Volley is another area where Pure Strike shines. The response of the volley is predictable. It has the right amount of power and touch to make those drop volleys and reflex volleys go safely over the net and find its target, as if I were playing with natural gut. Haven't had trouble overhitting the volley. The racquet takes the light amount of slice I impart on most volleys and translates it into a nice backspin, allowing the volley to sit low or penetrate nicely rather than sit up.

-Serve returns:
Pure Strike was champ in this area as well. When returning powerful serves, I don't want an anemic setup that gets pushed around and often can't return the serve over the net. Nor do I want a setup too powerful and unpredictable. Pure Strike was great at absorbing the power of the incoming serve and putting it back in play, analogous to the way the great RF often slices back the powerful serves from his younger opponents. I had some trouble keeping the return from going out when I attempted to kill some easy second serves. I had much better results just going for solid topspin returns.

Ground Strokes:
I give Pure Strike mixed reviews on ground strokes. I have no trouble rallying with it. As long as I keep my pace at normal rally speed and apply topspin or slice, I am fine. However, when I try to finish the point with a hard flat shot, I almost always hit it long. I find the launch angle too high; predictably high yet uncontrollable nonetheless. I hit with a moderate SW grip but am almost tempted to go full Western with this racquet. Perhaps 5+ lbs of tension increase might make it more controllable? The directional control was much better. I had excellent control over whether I want to send the ball down the line, cross court or up the middle.

General reaction/comments on overall performance:

-Feel:

In comparison to the 2017 Pure Aero, the 2019 Pure Strike feels more solid, like a real racquet. To me the Pure Aero felt like it was made of a piece of cardboard. Pure Strike feels like there's more solid structure to the racquet, although it still doesn't have the substantive feel of player racquets of the bygone era.

-Comfort:
The first thing I noticed about the Pure Strike is the unusual level of vibration. Even Pure Aero did not vibrate quite like this. I resorted to putting 2 worm-type dampeners (Gamma Shock Buster) on the stringbed to combat this. Yet I could still feel the vibration, and it was neither good nor pure.
*Full disclosure: I have a very sensitive arm from having had many bouts with tennis elbow, so the level of vibration may not be as bothersome to those with healthy arms.

Concluding remarks
2019 Pure Strike is a powerful, spin-friendly racquet with a relatively solid feel. IMHO, it's particularly well-suited to S&V plays. For baseliners, there may be a learning curve to control its high launch angle. One caveat is that the racquet produces an abnormally high level of vibration, which may contribute to an arm problem down the road for those susceptible to it.

Many thanks to Babolat and TW for the opportunity to playtest this racquet.
 
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Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Post-script: I know we are past Oct. 4, but I played with the racket today and got some interesting feedback.

As I said in my review above, balls fly long with this racket (strung hybrid gut mains in the low 50s). It is especially pronounced on volleys, in that volleys I would normally make easily go a foot long or wide.

Well, today I played social doubles with it, and I got some feedback from friends who know my normal ball really well. They all said it had a lot of spin. This surprised me, kind of. Because the ball flies long, I was actively trying to use more topspin, but I didn't really see much difference. But my friends said my ball had a lot of slice, the serve had slice, and the drives had topspin (and I noticed that the depth was giving people trouble). On the other hand, groundstrokes of mine that would normally land vaguely in NML were hitting near the baseline such that opponents were in trouble. This made it much easier to return deep and take the net for a very easy approach volley.

I also noticed that the shots that went long were the ones where something about my footwork or grip or swing was a bit off. For example, say I didn't step into a volley and instead just kind of steered it. It would rebound long. I also noticed that my serves had been going long, but tossing more into the court fixed it. And if I were hitting a slice approach, I needed to really transfer my weight instead of pushing. If I was a little late on a BH DTL, it would sail wide.

Do you detect a pattern?

My choice seems to be to get a different, less powerful, more forgiving racket, or *clean up my act and play with better/consistent technique and form.*

I wonder, am I up for the challenge? I feel like maybe having a racket that constantly punishes me for shortcuts and laziness might be a good thing . . .
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Kinda weird to see the comments about the high launch angle on this racquet (or at least the standard 16x19 PS).

For reference, I used the One7 16x19 and then switched to the 3rd gen 16x19 and found that the launch angle was about the same but with a bit more power (partly because my SW went up by like 3 points).

In terms of feel it was about the same and not as muted as I thought it would be--at least compared to an older One7 equivalent that had been restrung on a weekly basis for about two years. So perhaps I can say that the 3rd gen Strikes are about on par with a One7 with two years or so of constant restringing and heavy hitting.
 

PhxRacket

Professional
Update - I was getting into a groove with the 18x20, vs touch/rpm blast had loosened up, big booming serves and laser(ish) forehands until...a sweaty grip, a loose grip and an ill conceived service motion led to the untimely death of my racquet. It slipped out of my hand, smashed straight into the court and died. Luckily my opponent hit his return out. I miss the White Stallion, RIP.
 

SumYungGai

Semi-Pro
Just had to stop by and say that the new Strike Tour is one of the best racquets I've hit with in recent memory. Barring the new 18x20 blade (which I'm about to try soon) and the 2020 Prestige blowing me away, the Strike Tour will be my next racquet.
 

mhkeuns

Hall of Fame
Can anyone make some comparisons between the first gen PST and the current version aside from the string pattern?
 
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