By Bruce Levine and Richard Pagliaro
Head Size: 99 square inches
Length: 27 inches
Weight: 11.5 oz. (strung)
Balance: 5 points headlight (strung)
Ideal Swing: Long
String Pattern: 16 mains/19 crosses
Beam Width: 15 mm/18 mm/17 mm
How It Tested: Comfort and control are key components of this racquet, which generated more power than Donnay’s X-Series frames. There was little vibration even when playing without a dampener, and play-testers praised the frame's feedback. When you hit the ball cleanly you knew it immediately; if you mishit shots, you could usually feel where you missed the sweet spot.
The open 16 x 19 string pattern produced plenty of spin from all areas of the court. This a flexible frame, especially effective for transition shots—slices bite and topspin pops—and touch around the net. Unlike the rounded shape of most racquet grips, the X-Dual Gold has a more square shape to the bevels. Some play-testers appreciated the rectangular grip when making grip changes; players who favor a more rounded handle didn't report an issue with the shape.
Likes: If finesse is your forte, this stick will compliment your game. Donnay has tried to retain the precision and fat-free beam width of its X-Series thin-body line while increasing power production through the use of its XeneCore technology, a high-tensile strength tube wrapped around the entire hoop. Donnay has also added a second layer of the material inside the hoop—hence the name, "X-Dual"—to provide a power boost. There's also a 94-square inch version of the racquet for players who prefer a smaller head.
Dislikes: If you’re lunging, off-balance or hitting off your back foot, you may struggle to generate pace. The stick does not always provide substantial help on off-center hits; some shots landed short in the court when struck lower in the string bed. While spin production is an asset on serve, players seeking more pop on flat first serves may not find substantial help here.
Bottom Line: For advanced players who have full swings and no problem producing pace, the X-Dual Gold 99 may feel like a conductor’s baton capable of creating a symphony of shots. It may not be the ideal stick for baseline grinders, but if you’re an all-court player who likes to create spin and change speeds, this racquet is worth play testing.
Additional comments from Bruce Levine:
TENNIS racquet advisor Bruce Levine is a former touring pro who has coached on both the men’s and women’s tours. Bruce is the general manager of Courtside Racquet Club in Lebanon, N.J., has worked as a full-time teaching pro for 30 years and lectures nationally on racquets and equipment.