How much power is enough?
That was the question I posed to myself before trying out the Pure Aero+. My previous experience with the standard Pure Aero was that the frame didn’t need any help in that department. It’s loaded with power and spin potential, and managing its liveliness is usually the bigger problem. The extra half-inch of the extended model only magnifies the issue. The added length can create more pop and plow through, resulting in an extra gear the standard model doesn’t possess. However, it can be a slippery slope to traffic at such speeds.
As is customary with frames in the Aero family, the spin capabilities of the racquet are first-rate. I particularly enjoyed the action I could get on angled forehands. My practice partner and I did some crosscourt doubles drills, and I got great mileage out of buggy-whipping forehands to dip balls at his feet. And on ground stroke exchanges, the level of the bounce was noticeably higher than my standard frame, which is standard length with a denser string pattern.
But this was both a blessing and a curse. When I tried to flatten out shots to drive the ball through the court, I felt like the margins were rather small. If I didn’t hit it near perfect, I couldn’t consistently keep it inside the baseline. The spin turned out to be easy produce, but also a necessity. Overall, there was something of a “pick a shot out of a hat” vibe to the frame—here’s a return of serve winner, a routine mid-court forehand that hits the back fence, a drop shot that lands on the service line.
The racquet is typical Aero firm, but the extra length did seem to give it a slightly more flexible feel at contact. It’s still not plush, and at times hollow feeling, but as far as the line goes more comfortable than previous versions. It’s also more work to maneuver than the standard Pure Aero, although not as unwieldy as some extended models. The upside is the added leverage does more of the work for you.
For instance, I found slice backhands almost mindlessly routine. With a limited swing and effort, I could chip the ball back to opposing baseline with just enough spin to stay low and out of trouble. I actually got into a bad habit of relying on the tactic because it was so reproducible. While the racquet certainly responds to whippy, spin-centric strokes, it’s obvious why so many players with shorter, slower swings gravitate toward it, too.
The same principle applied to volleying. All I had to do was get the racquet face in front of the ball and it shot off the strings back to the baseline. There was little twisting or distortion on off-center hits, as the frame plays sturdier than its static weight. The extra length and inherent power don’t provide the best combination for subtle shots and taking pace off the ball. I really struggled to find the range on half-swings and finesse shots in the mid-court. But it’s right at home sticking volleys with authority and punishing floaters with reasonable direction.
As expected, the extra half-inch proved valuable on serves. The additional tip speed and reach brought more pace and angle to wide serves and flat bombs had added juice. Getting the timing right with the longer frame took some practice, as did locating smaller targets. Like on ground strokes, where I found the greatest success was in ramping up the RPMs. Kick serves had so much action, they transformed from neutralizing to offensive. If you like to employ the serve-forehand 1-2 punch tactic, this frame will be right in your wheelhouse.
After playing with the Pure Aero+, my original question of whether a power frame needs to be turbocharged, was answered with a resounding maybe. There were times when I absolutely loved the extra shot in my shots provided by the plus model. Serves were just a little more obnoxious and ground strokes were pushier. The flip side was trying to navigate the in-between shots and developing consistency. It’s simply a tough racquet to manage unless you’re able to apply significant spin on a regular basis. At times, I felt too much like a feast-or-famine slugger who either hits a home run or strikes out. Ultimately, I think I need more control. But if you like to grip and rip and can live with the consequences, this frame can abide.