Ivan Lendl wasn’t the easiest player to like, but you had to admire his game. Part man, part ball machine, Lendl would punish opponents with a devastating combination of power, consistency, and sawdust. He didn’t possess the innate shot-making genius of John McEnroe or the physical gifts of Boris Becker, but good luck to anyone who tried to trade ground strokes with the big Czech. He’s the patriarch of power-baseline tactics and turned fitness and conditioning into major weapons. Perhaps he came up a little small in some Slam finals, but he reached 19 of them, still a men’s record.
And for most of his career he was doing it all with a racquet that had a face the size of a ping-pong paddle and weighed as much as a lead pipe. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but the Adidas GTX Pro, didn’t have a huge sweet spot and was a beast to swing. When Lendl switched to a Mizuno frame in 1990, Adidas frames faded away, relegated to dusty basements and eBay auctions.
Well it’s time for the next generation. In February of 2009, Adidas will be launching a new line of racquets sold at the company’s retail stores as well as tennis specialty shops. From clothes to equipment the apparel giant wants to completely outfit players. In keeping up with the modern game, the frames will have nothing in common with the GTX. There will be three distinct models, each named after Adidas shoes: Barricade (pictured), Response, and Feather. So far, details are a bit limited.
Within the Barricade family there will be four different models. The Barricade Tour is the heaviest (about 11.6 ounces) and stiffest of the new racquets aimed at advanced players. The Tour Light is about an ounce lighter for better maneuverability, but both share a dense 18x20 string pattern. The third racquet is the standard Barricade, which is lighter and less stiff than the Tour, and has an 16x19 string pattern for more spin potential and playability. The last frame of the group is the Barricade Junior for the wee ones. The racquets in this family will retail for $185.
All Barricades feature what Adidas is calling Power Structure Technology (PST). It’s essentially some extra material at 3 and 9 o’clock on the frame to provide more stability and power. Sounds a little bit like Wilson’s Perimeter Weighting System (PWS), but I’ll reserve final judgment until I give it a hands-on inspection.
The Response racquet is being targeted at the mid-level player and will cost $145. The Feather is the thickest, lightest and most powerful of the group designed for recreational or older club players. It’s price tag is $165.
That’s all I got. We’ll be reviewing these frames in our Spring Racquet Guide in the April issue of TENNIS Magazine, so stay tuned. Nothing has been released on whether a touring pro will be using the Barricade, but some rumors were swirling that Adidas might make a run at Djokovic. If they strike out with him, maybe they’ll give Ivan a call.