In Babolat’s Pure family of racquets, the Pure Drive is the friendly big brother that everybody knows. As hugely popular as the frame is, however, it’s not for everybody; some find it a little too stiff and powerful. Those players may prefer the quieter siblings—the Pure Storm and Pure Control—which are more flexible and rely more on the user to provide the bulk of the pace. While not complete contradictions, the frames do lie somewhat on opposite ends of the racquet spectrum from the Pure Drive. If only there were a member of the family for players who want something in the middle.
Enter the Pure Strike.
The completely new model has a hybrid design (EvoBeam) that incorporates both a square (Storm and Control) and an elliptical (Drive) frame. The wider cross-section allows for more power and responsiveness with less torque at ball impact. Stiff carbon wire in the throat (Stabilizer Technology) adds to the racquet’s backbone at impact. There's also a shallow canal (X-Sider) around 3 and 9 o’clock on the face which is designed to expand the sweetspot for more forgiveness on off-center hits.
All this is done with the first-strike player in mind; those who like to stand close to the baseline in order to take the ball early and dictate the point. In other words, seriously aggressive baseliners.
There are four Pure Strike models. The Pure Strike 18x20 and Pure Strike Tour have identical string patterns and head sizes (98 sq. in.), with the latter version weighing a half ounce more (11.3 oz. unstrung). The Pure Strike 16x19 has the same head size and weight (10.8 oz.) as the 18x20, but with the more open string pattern. The Pure Strike 100 is lightest (10.2 oz.) and has the largest head size (100 sq. in.), also with a 16x19 string pattern. According to Babolat, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jerzy Janowicz—unabashed first-strikers—have been demoing the Pure Strike 100.
Except for the 16x19, which will be available in May, the frames will hit stores mid-January. We currently have all four models out for testing. I’ve played with two so far—the Tour and the 16x19. I liked both a lot, but if I had to pick one I might side with the heft and control of the Tour. I probably got a little more spin and pop with the 16x19, but my shots felt totally dialed-in with the Tour. Check back for full reviews of the Pure Strikes in the coming weeks.