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Babolat Pure Strike Tennis Racquet Review

Babolat Pure Strike Tennis Racquet Review

When Babolat announced that they would be releasing an entirely new family of player-oriented racquets called Pure Strike, lots of people got excited. Although they've had some control frames in the past, Babolat has been best known for lighter, more powerful frames like the Pure Drive and later on the AeroPro Drive. For players who are intimately familiar with Babolat's racquet lineup, the new Pure Strike family will be more or less replacing the Pure Storm family; however, the Pure Strike frames are completely new racquets and really aren't intended to be a direct replacement for the Pure Storms.

Although the Pure Strike line has several different racquet configurations—including a Pure Strike 100 and a Pure Strike 18x20—I decided to try the Pure Strike Tour first since it's fairly similar to my normal racquet. The Tour is definitely the heavyweight of the bunch, weighing in at 11.8 ounces strung. It has a 98 square inch head and an 18x20 string pattern. As you'd expect, the Pure Strike Tour (and the other Pure Strike racquets) feature plenty of proprietary Babolat technologies, but the real story is more about the Pure Strike Tour's solid feel and precision performance.

From the baseline, the Pure Strike Tour actually provided a bit more pop than I initially expected, but it's still a demanding control frame for advanced players who are taking big cuts at the ball. The Tour lends itself well to heavy-hitting and its weight helps provide a stable platform even when returning big shots. If you get stretched out or pulled out of position, be prepared to work for pace and depth; the Pure Strike Tour isn't going to give you much help. It did, however, seem to be fairly forgiving on off-center hits.

I tried the Pure Strike Tour without a dampener and was happy to hear a solid thwack at ball impact. I know some people prefer more of a ping sound, but that's just not for me. It's completely a personal preference, of course, and shouldn't really affect the playability of the racquet, but I never really liked racquets that were too "pingy."

The ball came off the racquet with plenty of spin and I was able to hit safe shots with margin as well as flatter shots when the situation demanded. My usual racquet has an 18x20 pattern like the Pure Strike Tour, so I'm used to it, but I wish Babolat had made a second version of the Tour with the same heft but a more open string pattern. The tennis world seems to be focused on mega-spin right now and I would've been interested to see how the Pure Strike Tour might have played with an open pattern.

Volleys felt solid and the Pure Strike Tour's weight made it stable enough to handle passing shots hit with lots of pace. But the weight is a little bit of a double-edged sword at the net. Even though the Pure Strike Tour is head light, it's still a heavy racquet and isn't the most maneuverable at net. It didn't bother me any but I don't spend that much time at net anyway. Serve-and-volley players or doubles players might be more interested in some of the lighter racquets in the Strike lineup, but if you don't mind the weight, there's no reason you can't serve-and-volley successfully with the Pure Strike Tour.

Serving with the Tour felt fine, but I didn't really notice any spectacular change in power or spin. Admittedly, my serve is usually a bit rusty by this time of the winter, but the Pure Strike Tour neither wowed nor disappointed. It just felt… normal. I was able effectively place first serves and the Pure Strike Tour gave me enough depth and spin on second serves so that most second-serve points at least started on neutral ground.

In the end, finding the right racquet is all about personal preference and a little bit of trial-and-error, so I can't say that the Pure Strike Tour is for everyone, but I liked it. As a whole, the Pure Strike Tour is really an impressive racquet that deserves some serious consideration from advanced players who are looking for a control-oriented frame. It has a nice, solid feel on groundstrokes, volleys, and serves, but won't provide a lot of extra power. While that's perfect for players who are used to generating their own pace, players looking for something a little more forgiving might be better served trying one of the other Pure Strike offerings—like the Pure Strike 100. I had no issues generating enough topspin, but folks looking for maximum spin might ultimately get better results trying something with a more open string pattern.

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