If you read gear maven Justin diFeliciantonio's Court Notes on the racquet formerly known as the Head Prototype Speed MP, you'll recall that, "at the throat’s crux, just above the grip, is the letter “G.” What does it signify? For now, Head won’t say."
The mystery has been solved: On Friday, the company debuted Graphene, "the world's strongest and lightest material," according to Head. The new technology is the centerpiece of Head's 2013 crop of racquets. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic showed off one of the new frames on a race track yesterday in Melbourne, in case you were wondering about the above photo.
Djokovic could make a racquet from K-Mart fly off the shelves, and you can expect the same to apply for the YouTek Graphene Speed Pro, the stick he'll be swinging in Rod Laver Arena during his Australian Open title defense. But looking like Djokovic and playing like him are two very different things, so I gave two of the new Graphene racquets—the YouTek Graphene Speed REV and YouTek Graphene Instinct REV—a play-test yesterday. Here are my court notes:
—Taglines aren't always truthful, but those for the two REV series racquets were spot on. An "intermediate player," I found the frames to be as manueverable as touted, particularly the Instinct. It's a very light racquet, so much so that I was able to control some pretty long swings and cover much more court than usual. The Instinct was helpful on both service returns and while hitting on the run.
—With my improved court coverage, I found that the Instinct allowed me to hit effective shots at angles I'd otherwise thought impossible. It lacked the power I needed to finish off points with ease, but I could move my opponent with enough time and the flick of a wrist.
—I received a boost of power with the Speed, the frame I felt most comfortable with by the end of my session. But it's a stick that requires some break-in time. It's a jack of all shots and master of none, but for most recreational baseliners, that's an ideal quality have in a racquet.
—After a few games, I got the hang of the Speed and used it—I believe—properly: Set the opponent up, then knock them down. This racquet won't blow your opponent off the court, but it has enough weight to deliver the final blow after hitting some accurate, side-to-side jabs.
—I have to agree with Justin's assessment of the grips (he wasn't a fan). I had to hold these racquets a little tighter than usual because of their designs.
—Both racquets produced enough spin for my liking—not too little, but not an extreme amount, unlike another frame I tested out. I'd recommend both racquets to fellow NTRP 3.5 baseliners, depending on your power preference.
—Would I recommend the Speed unequivocally? No; I found that a different racquet I tested suited my game best of all. But I believe Head's Graphene technology delivered on its promise of light weight, manueverability, and power. Let me know if you agree in the comments below.