We have all heard John McEnroe talk about how Babolat’s RPM Blast is the best string ever created in the history of tennis. I don’t quite buy into the hype though, I’ve tested the strings, more than once, and I’m giving you a better review (read my previous review here) of the hyped black tennis string.
What is the hype of this string anyway? Well basically when Rafael Nadal first started using it last year at the French Open, there were claims that he was able to spin the tennis ball much more when replacing his previous string (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour). Just a reminder, this was only a claim. Pretty much, Johnny-Mac called the matches and he really publicized how great this string was and how much more kick Nadal was getting – all thanks to the RPM’s. It can’t be, a single set of tennis string can make a player play better tennis? IT CAN’T BE!
The truth of this argument is that it is just a tennis string, it’s the placebo effect that makes people think they’re hitting a better ball. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on this string 100%, it does have it’s good qualities and capabilities.
I’ve broken down my detailed review into different sections, stringability (how it strings), power, spin, durability, and arm friendliness:
- Stringability: Stringing the RPM string at 55 pounds was pretty easy actually. I enjoyed stringing this polyester string better than some of it’s stiffer rivals. One set in particular really bothered me when I strung it, I was pulling tension on the crosses, and for some reason the string snapped. I was pretty concerned that I was stringing at too high of a tension, but it turned out I had a bad set from Babolat; they did replace the set. Knotting off the ends was a snap since the RPM was malleable enough to tie out and tighten easily. Oh and weaving the crosses was extremely easy on the fingers.
- Power: Honestly I didn’t really feel all that much additional power when using the RPM, I tried the string at different tensions to gather this data – 50lbs, 55lbs, and 60lbs. At 50 pounds the RPM felt extremely loose and left me feeling as if I was not getting the best contact since the strings were moving all over the place. At 55lbs, I felt like I was hitting the strings perfectly which allowed me to take some bigger cuts at the ball while keeping it in the court. At a high tension, it was almost worthless, I could not generate pace from the baseline without having to overexert myself on simple groundstrokes. I figure that somewhere in the middle of the tension spectrum is an ideal way to go.
- Spin: This is the part that everybody reading this is waiting to know about. Does the Babolat RPM really generate all that spin? Well yes and no. If you can hit the ball perfectly in the center of the strings every time and you make an effort to spin the ball, you will get the additional spin. However, if you hit off center or tend to hit flat, you won’t get the additional spin that you would probably expect. Yes, it’s good when you hit the ball clean and have the right swing to get the spin you want, yet it’s not automatically going to give you the tremendous amount of spin that Rafael Nadal gets on his groundstrokes.
- Durability: One aspect of a tennis string that I always consider is the durability. I’m not a professional tennis player so I have to buy my tennis strings with my own money, so the longer a string will last the better. I noticed that the RPM’s do last a little longer than some of the other polyester strings out there. However, this string looses tension faster than some so to say that it’s durability is awesome would be an overstatement. Yes, it’s durable as in the string will not break after many hours of use, however, you will not get the same performance because the tension does not hold long enough to perform all the way through those hours of play.
- Arm friendliness: Because this is a softer poly string, I didn’t feel the jarring I normally would with a stiffer string. After many different string jobs, at different tensions, and different testing conditions, my arm felt really good. It did not send the shock all the way up and down my arm when making contact so that’s always a good thing.
Do I love this string or do I hate it? It’s hard to say, I love how easy it is to string and how well it plays when freshly strung, and I absolutely love the black color of the string – it makes it look powerfully fast. On the other hand, I absolutely hate the hype it gets, how it looses tension so quickly, and of course the cost – $17.
If the Babolat RPM were actually a game changer, every single tennis professional would have a full set of this string in their tennis racquets. The truth is in the pudding, if you feel like you’re getting more spin and power from this string, more power to you. I’m just giving you an honest review of this string, however much I don’t like it. Like I’ve said a million times before, if you’re curious about a product, just try it out. The more you experiment, the better off you will be.