Babolat updates their most popular Pure Aero tennis racquet with a limited edition Roland Garros design commemorating Rafael Nadal's historic tenth French Open title! This version gets an update to its AeroModular “wing” shaft design, called AeroModular2, making the AeroPro series one of the fastest frames around. The Cortex system has been updated and is now inside the frame. It still maintains its great playing characteristics while dampening “bad” vibrations and allowing the player to have maximum ball feel. A strong swing weight allows for maximum “plow through” from the baseline and uninhibited power and the addition of Frame String Interaction (FSI Spin) Technology enables a more open weave in the string bed. But all of these updates are for nothing unless the racquet performs so let’s take a look at what happened when I took to the court with the new Pure Aero.
From the baseline, the Pure Aero was the same groundstroke monster it was in previous AeroPro Drive incarnations. The firm layup and 23/26/23 mm beam provided plenty of power from both sides. I found the increased swing weight helped keep the ball deep in the court and I did not land as many balls short in the court as with previous versions. The manageable 11.1 oz strung weight and head light balance made it easy for me to whip the frame through contact, creating large amounts of pace and spin. The 100 inch head had a generous sweet spot and the FSI string pattern kept the power level consistent. This was most noticeable at the top of the hoop where I tend to hit. It seemed to have a livelier response than older models and I was able to keep the pace up. I felt the additional swing weight made my backhand slice a stronger weapon and did a good job of keeping the ball low. Spin generation was very easy thanks to the fast head acceleration and open 16 x 19 pattern. I was able to vary spin and net clearance easily although the racquet doesn’t flatten out the ball quite as well as the Pure Aero Tour version. The racquet was impressively stable for its weight and I was able to defend against bigger hitters pretty easily and redirect their pace with interest.
Volleys & Serves
At net, the Pure Aero is a very maneuverable, aggressive weapon. It was very quick to position, ensuring I always had the upper hand in close quarters exchanges. The inherent power allowed me to finish off balls aggressively. I found it necessary to attack as the reduced weight tended to float the ball if I played less aggressively. The maneuverability also allowed me to create lots of angles and play effective defense when at the net. I missed the added weight of the Tour model when fighting off shots to my body. The feel of the frame was also greatly improved, making it a bit easier to execute touch volleys than I had found with previous versions. I’d still like a bit more ball pocketing and flex in order for me to use this frame as my primary doubles racquet.
Much like previous iterations, the Pure Aero was a potent serving weapon. The boosted swing weight and impressive acceleration at the top of contact allowed me to really ratchet up the pace on flat serves. I consistently won free points on my first serve by driving flat serves down the T on both sides. I felt this model lacked the same level of directional accuracy that the Tour model has so I did not target the lines as aggressively on my serve. Spin was again easy to come by so I had no issue adding kick and slice serves to my arsenal. Kick serves bounced high although the lacked the heaviness of the ones I could hit with the Tour model. Slice serves were fast and wide and set me up nicely to play first strike tennis.
Babolat has significantly improved the feel of the Pure Aero. The integration of the Cortex system had a noticeable effect on the amount of dampening it provided. I still would not classify the frame as flexible but it did have a more responsive feel and less overall harshness than previous versions. This improvement in feel really made me want to know what a Pure Aero in a low RA would play like. I found more confidence in executing touch shots than with previous versions but I still focused mostly on aggressive baseline strokes. The string bed was uniformly comfortable with no unexpected harshness outside the center. Players should be aware that the stiffness level is still the same and take appropriate measures if they have sensitive arms.
If you thought Babolat couldn’t improve the AeroPro Drive, think again. The Pure Aero Decima French Open racquet takes the same basic formula and amplifies all of the positives while also fixing some of the biggest holes. It retains the incredible power and maneuverability it’s always had and adds in more stability and greatly improved feel. The result is a frame that continues to suit multiple play styles and levels. Players after something that combines power and spin with all court reflexes will not want to miss the chance to take Babolat’s latest for an update.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.