Dissecting a Pure Aero is a little like critiquing an Avengers movie. While there are subtle differences from each installment, it’s always going to be big, bold and entertaining. You can pick apart some of the excesses and wish for more character, but ultimately, the formula is undeniably effective. Purists will never be satisfied, yet they will be grossly outnumbered. If the upcoming Avengers: Endgame is anything like the new Pure Aero Tour, expect another summer blockbuster.
For one thing, the acting is powerful and occasionally over-the-top, but nothing so overwhelming that it diminished the story. Serves and ground strokes have the life needed to play hero ball, even if they don’t always hit their lines. There were a few incidents of shots landing closer to the back curtain than the baseline, but not to the level of losing confidence. Delivering flatter put-aways and controlling subtle in-between shots could also prove a challenge to the frame’s range.
Yet, it was certainly a more restrained performance than the previous Pure Aero Tour (2016), which hammed it up with a pronounced wild streak and wider extremes—you could blow your opponent off the court, or err yourself into a quick exit. The update has an easier to inhabit middle ground, capable of steadier if less spectacular play. For accomplished players, it’s a needed compromise.
It also had more tender moments. Babolat has inserted Cortex Feel at 3 and 9 o’clock on the hoop to increase the dampening. The racquet also has a softer flex, although I’d hardly classify it as flexible. If you’ve had joint problems in the past, it’s probably still stiff enough to light them up. But being a longtime elbow pain sufferer, I incurred no issues. The response wasn’t exactly plush, but it was comfortable enough, even with a full bed of RPM Blast Rough. I’ve heard from other testers that the lower stiffness has drained some of the stability and power from the frame. Once again, I think it’s a worthwhile tradeoff.
However, so much of the franchise’s success is linked to otherworldly action, and this latest chapter is no slouch when it comes to spin production. The wider string spacing and oblong grommets at 6 and 12 o’clock helped generate heavy groundies and bucking kicks. It’s not as whippy as the lighter standard Pure Aero, and I actually found that model superior for creating topspin. But the Tour was good enough and the extra weight provided better stability and plow-through for trafficking at higher ball speeds. Slices were respectable, although I found myself developing a mindless overreliance on blocking the ball—it was so easy to get repeatable depth with a minimal swing—instead of trying to knife the shot through the court with tight spin. But that’s more my fault for shoddy improvisation.
Another classic trait of a Pure Aero was its ability to salvage mistakes and dire situations. When backed into a corner and fighting to stay in the point, it’s the trusty sidekick who bails you out of trouble. For example, in one of my test runs with the frame I used it in a set of doubles. I was receiving serve in the deuce court, and was taken wide of the doubles alley by a slicing serve. I lunged and took a poorly balanced, halfhearted swipe at the ball that I caught late and toward the top of the string bed. I was expecting to produce a duck that the net person would punish; but somehow the ball sailed over his head and deep to the baseline, allowing us to take the net and win the point.
I noticed similar backup when opponent pressure or poor execution caused imperfect contact. A mishit on a backhand that should land feebly in the midcourt manages to find its neutralizing way back to the baseline. It brought with it the temptation to be lazy, but this superpower of forgiveness was a big draw.
However, some of the tropes of the genre simply couldn’t be avoided. Like wooden dialogue, volleying could be uninspiring. The connection between racquet and ball could feel rushed, and taking speed off incoming pace didn’t always make sense—somewhat expected for this type of frame. But if I got the racquet face in front of the ball the routine asks were clockwork. At times, it almost felt like cheating; all I had to do was look for some open court and redirect. Anything shoulder-height or above could be punched through the court with authority. Overheads were just a matter of how hard I wanted to hit it. Nothing too fancy, but efficient enough to close out points and move on to the next scene.
When the credits rolled on my test I left the court satisfied. Admittedly, much of the story was familiar, but there were enough minor tweaks to the script—better feel, more control—that it was a worthy sequel. The improved performance might even entice a few players who generally prefer more serious releases to give it a look. While I suspect fans of the genre will undoubtedly find the racquet worth repeat viewings. If interested, the new Pure Aero Tour is currently playing at a tennis shop near you.