The Babolat Pure Strike is the newest addition to the Babolat racquet line. This time around, the Babolat Pure Strike Tour will include some new technologies and is a completely new line of tennis racquets for 2014. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the heavier Babolat Pure Strike Tour for about a week. I practiced with it, did drills with it, played some points, and played a few sets with this new Babolat frame for 2014.
Babolat Pure Strike Tour technology for 2014
Babolat added a few new features for the Pure Strike line:
- Response Woofer (grommets) – Babolat added PEBAX to their grommet composition. PEBAX is designed to absorb the energy thus giving more dampening properties to the grommet and frame, allowing for a more comfortable experience. PEBAX is also 20% lighter than traditional materials used in other frames.
- X-Sider – The inside of the frame, at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock position, has been thinned out to give each player an expanded sweetspot, estimated at 10%. This is good for when ball contact is off center, the expanded sweetspot will be more forgiving.
- Stabilizer Technology – The Pure Strike frames have been constructed in a way to give more torsional stability. Basically, when you hit the ball off center, the racquet is less likely to twist in your hand and create an error. Stable swings people!
Stringing the Babolat Pure Strike Tour
The Pure Strike frames come with a dense string pattern with 18 main string and 20 cross strings (also referred to as a closed string pattern). The Babolat Pure Strike 100 will come with an open string pattern, 16 mains and 19 crosses (more spin).
I got the Babolat Pure Strike Tour version, which has 18 mains and 20 crosses. I normally play with an open pattern that gives me more spin, so I opted to use a thin gauge tennis string, MSV Focus Hex 17L, this way I would still be able to generate some spin when/if needed. Installing the string was fairly simple, nothing out of the ordinary, pretty standard in my opinion. I tied off my final knot and was ready to hit the courts!
First impressions and hitting with the Babolat Pure Strike Tour
This frame is a beast! I like hefty frames, but I like them head light, this way I can maneuver and whip that racquet head around quickly when I need to. The Babolat Pure Strike Tour made me work…hard! The weight is listed at, unstrung, 324 grams (11.4 ounces), 7 points head light, and a RA rating of 66 (frame flexibility); nice looking specs. When I did my unstrung measurements, I got 328 grams (11.5 ounces) and 5 points head light; I don’t have a flexibility measuring tool at the moment, so I was unable to measure stiffness. Once I had all the string installed, Pete Sampras O dampener, and Tourna Grip Dry overgrip installed, the measurements changed drastically; 354 grams (12.48 ounces) and 2 points head light…a completely different frame.
Like I said, the frame is a beast; it’s hefty on the backswing and solid on the plowthrough. Once I dialed in my strokes, the court penetration was very impressive, I was hitting incredibly deep forehands and backhands. The stability of the frame was also impressive, incoming shots with weight and speed were easily absorbed by the Babolat Pure Strike Tour, with no twisting in my hands. I was impressed. I did not have to swing hard to get the depth I was getting off the groundstrokes, it was just a matter of getting the racquet head through the contact zone at the right time.
My volleys and backhand slices did come to life with the Babolat Pure Strike Tour! When I hit a well timed backhand slice, the ball would stay very low and would sail deep in to my opponents side of the court, only to skid and slide. It was a thing of beauty. I preferred hitting a slice on the backhand instead of my one-hander. The slice was just that easy to commit to and execute, it was a very effective tool when constructing an approach shot to finish with a penetrating volley.
My one-handed backhand suffered tremendously, I struggled to get the timing right with near even balance of the Babolat Pure Strike Tour. The takeback was fine; it was the swing that threw me off. I could not get the racquet head to come through fast enough to meet the ball at the right time. Generally I would find that my backhand was very late, so I had to make a few adjustments to my timing to swing a bit earlier. Once I started swinging earlier, I noticed an improvement in ball contact. I still struggled in getting the heft of the racquet through but I made due.
The Babolat Pure Strike Tour is not much of a servers tennis racquet. I can’t sugarcoat this, this frame is incredibly demanding when serving. If you are lazy in any aspect of your service motion, you will be disappointed. Like my backhand, I struggled to bring the racquet up quickly enough to ball contact. Head light frames are easy to whip the head into the contact spot but with the Pure Strike, it was something completely different.
I consider myself somewhat strong, I can lift lots of weight and I have a powerful enough serve to muscle quick first serves; so I was a little shocked that I had to make so much effort in serving with this tennis racquet. Though, when I got the groove and timing down, the Babolat Pure Strike Tour serves quite nicely, it’s not a fast serve but it does add weight to the ball; so easy errors from unsuspecting receivers are easy to come by.
Because of the dense string pattern allows for a more controlled serve, for the corners and “T” serves. I didn’t quite get enough spin to hit some good kickers or slices, but I made due with what I had and was able to generate enough spin to roll the ball enough to come in for a quick put away or wait for a nice sitter to put into the opposite corner.
One particular characteristic I noticed about the Babolat Pure Strike Tour frame was that it didn’t have the traditional feel of a typical Babolat frame. If you’ve hit with a Babolat frame before, you know there’s a certain “ping” to it, sort of a hollow feel to the frames. The Strike Tour gave a very solid feel upon contact, this was a pleasant change from the other frames. The feel was more of a classic, graphite, frame; you know, the frames from yesteryear. I was happy with the construction of this new stick.
After three consecutive days of hitting with the Babolat Pure Strike Tour I noticed a bit of tenderness surfacing in my shoulder and wrist. The tenderness in my shoulder was likely due to the fact that the frame is heavier than what I normally play with and the muscles surrounding my shoulder were starting to feel fatigued. The pain in my wrist though, that’s something fairly new. I’m fairly certain that the pain was caused by two factors, the weight and the frame stiffness. Babolat claims to have a RA rating of 66, which is middle of the road in terms of stiffness; while I do believe the Babolat Pure Strike Tour is more flexible than the Pure Drive or Aero Storm, it’s still pretty stiff. If I had to say what RA rating I think it really has, I would feel confident in saying that 68/69 is closer to reality; it just didn’t have the plush feeling of a flexible frame.
Final thoughts on this Babolat Pure Strike Tour review
I spent quite a bit of time with this beastly tennis racquet, I like it for the most part but there are some characteristics that turned me off from buying one. I absolutely loved the depth penetration and plow through with this stick, I could put the ball where I wanted it when I needed. Changing directions were flawless, I could exchanged forehand cross courts and go down the line with little effort. Though I did struggle with the weight and balance of the Babolat Pure Strike Tour, I thoroughly enjoyed hitting groundstrokes with it. I had a hard time getting the timing of the weight with my serve so that proved to be the biggest challenge, though once efforts were made, I could put the tennis ball anywhere in the service box.
Ultimately, the Babolat Pure Strike Tour is for tennis players who absolutely revolve their game around control and placement (who also have flat strokes), and who don’t necessarily care too much about spin. Oh yeah, and you have to be physically strong to play with this thing…it will keep you on your toes and make you commit to timing and perfection.
Really though, the Babolat Pure Strike Tour is not a bad tennis racquet, it’s just very demanding. If I had the opportunity to spend a bit more time with the frame, I would absolutely put a leather grip on…to bring the balance back to the handle. By doing this I could get the racquet head speed that was lacking from the stock model. Oh and if you do plan on buying a Babolat Pure Strike Tour and you are coming from a 16×19 string pattern, lower your tension by about 5 pounds.
Babolat Pure Strike Tour specs:
Head size: 98 inches
Length: 27 inches
Balance: 7 points head light (printed)
String Pattern: 18×20