Racquet Review: Dunlop 3.0 (F Tour, M, S Lite)

by: Justin diFeliciantonio | November 16, 2012

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Watch gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio hit with the new Dunlop 3.0 racquets as TENNIS.com racquet advisor Bruce Levine discusses this series of frames:

MSRP: $210
Available: October 15
Head Size: 98 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight*: 11.5 oz. (F Tour); 11 oz. (M); 9.9 oz. (S Lite)
Balance*: 7 pts. HL (F Tour); 4 pts. HL (M); 2 pts. HH (S Lite)
Swingweight: 318 (F Tour); 316 (M); 301 (S Lite)
Flexibility: Firm
Beam Width: 22mm
String Pattern: 18x20 (F Tour); 16x19 (M, S Lite)
Ideal Swing: Long (F Tour); Medium to Long (M, S Lite)
NTRP: 4.0+ (F Tour), 3.5+ (M), 3.0 to 4.0 (S Lite)

*NOTE: Values represent strung frames

The Pitch
Racquet of choice for Fernando Verdasco, the Dunlop 3.0 builds on the company’s venerable 300 line with three updated models: the F3.0 Tour, M3.0, and S3.0 Lite. (Racquets labeled F are for players with full/fast swings, M for medium/moderate swings, and S for shorter/slower swings.) Versus older generations, the 3.0 now features True Oval—a wider, rounder racquet face that Dunlop says increases the sweetspot for more power and spin. Additionally, the racquet’s constructed with a hybrid cross section, a beam design that blends both oval- and box-shaped constructions—in the head and throat, respectively—which the company claims also increases power as well as racquet-head speed. (For a comprehensive run-down of all the 3.0’s updates, including the new Cx grommets and Aeroskin Cx, read our recent Gear Talk with Hunter Hines, Dunlop’s Director of Marketing and Product Development, here and here.)
How It Tested
With three different models to choose from, the Dunlop 3.0 series offers a trio of versatile, maneuverable frames to players of varied styles and ability levels.

The F3.0 Tour is one of the most forgiving player’s frames we’ve reviewed all year. According to Bruce Levine, Racquet Advisor for Tennis Magazine, the F3.0, compared to last year’s Biomimetic 300 Tour, is “clearly a different racquet. Due to its wider head size and throat, the F3.0 felt much more stable than older generations, and played comfortably all over the court without negative vibrations. To take an analogy: It looks and smells like a Porsche. But when you drive it, it has a lot of the characteristics of a Cadillac.” Several of our 4.0 and 4.5 playtesters agreed, claiming that, on groundstrokes as well as volleys, the racquet struck a nice balance between power, maneuverability, and plowthrough. Although baseline grinders might find the racquet’s spin potential lacking due to the closed string pattern—and old-school players may miss the heftier, more traditional feel of the 300 Tour—all-courters with modern grips should profit from the 3.0’s ample, control-oriented pop.

The M3.0, while relatively similar in design to the F3.0 Tour, departs from the series’ flagstaff stick in weight, offering intermediate players a lighter spec. for even more power and forgiveness. Groundies and volleys penetrated without discomfort, playtesters said, even on many off-center hits—a consequence of the racquets’ exceptional stability. “Most light racquets feel unstable when hitting at a high pace and volume,” said one 4.5 teaching pro with a one-handed backhand. “This racquet changed my opinion, however, in that, for how light the racquet is, I still had a stable and solid feel.” Although the M3.0 may feel a little too flimsy for stronger competitors, club-level players who are looking to step-up their games’ power and spin—but who are reluctant to switch to an oversized stick—should find the racquet appealing.

The S3.0, as its name implies, is the breeziest of the bunch. With a strung weight under 10 ounces, it’s a great choice for athletic beginners just learning the ropes, or 12- to 13-year-old juniors looking to take on their first, full-length stick. What it is not is a racquet tailored toward game-improvement; the 3.0’s “S” classification—for shorter and slower swings—is a relative term. Thus, weekend warriors with abbreviated swings would do best to look elsewhere.

Bottom Line
While the Dunlop 3.0 racquets’ thin beams and medium swing/weights don’t suit themselves to traditionalists and club-level players searching for the ultimate in power, they should feel quite deft in the hands of all us all-court non-specialists—providing a mixture of controllable power, comfort, and maneuverability to athletic beginners as well as players with serious club-level chops.

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