I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Dunlop. Having taken up tennis in the 1980s, when Steffi Graf and John McEnroe bludgeoned and carved, respectively, their opponents with Dunlop Max 200Gs, I’ve always rooted for the success of Dunlop. It was a very popular and innovative brand during the halcyon days of tennis from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, but has mostly disappeared from the hands of the biggest tennis stars over the last decade. So, I was excited to hear about their new racquet lines, which includes the impressive Revo CV 3.0.
My first question when I received the frame was, “Is it a Dunlop or a Srixon racquet?” The answer is, “both.” Likely due to the need for brand/name recognition, “Dunlop” remains prominently displayed on the throat and outside beam of the racquet, while “Srixon” is emblazoned in large letters near the hoop of the racquet. Also, the racquets are called “Dunlop Srixon,” a moniker that could potentially cause some confusion for consumers.
My second question was, “Who/what is Srixon?” From some cursory digging, I found that Srixon is a Japanese company that has been around since the 1930s and was primarily known for its manufacture of golf and tennis gear, but found its way into the tennis racquet market in 2009. At the same time Srixon was growing, Dunlop was treading water, and in 2016, having passed through various private equity firms with little success at reinventing the brand, Dunlop was sold to Srixon.
Curiosities aside, on to how the racquet plays. The CV 3.0 is very much targeted towards the tweener market, and seems to be clearly inspired by the Babolat Pure Aero, as spec-wise it is nearly identical except for the slightly higher swing weight of the Pure Aero. Even the color scheme (yellow and black) is the same. On the court, the similarities remain on groundsrokes, with the CV 3.0 conjuring lots of spin from its relatively open string pattern and ease with which I could accelerate through the ball. Along with gobs of spin, there’s controllable, free power from the CV 3.0, but I didn’t get the sense that my shots were especially heavy or drove through the court.
The biggest surprise for me with the CV 3.0 was the touch and finesse I could coax from the racquet. Heavy, angled rollers are often quite easy with these types of racquets, and this one was no different. However, the ability to seemingly take the air out of the ball and drop it over the net, on groundstrokes and volleys, was incredible and like nothing I ever experienced with similar frames. After a few drop shots, it wasn’t a question of whether I could make the shot, but rather whether I could get the ball to bounce 6 or 7 times before the service line. Fun stuff indeed!
My shoulder is still healing from injury, so I didn’t put too many service miles on the CV 3.0, but I found the racquet to have nice pop and easy placement—the same went for overheads. If not for the seeming lack of heft on my groundstrokes, I would unequivocally call this the best racquet I have hit with recently. Perhaps a little bit of additional weight would close that gap.
It’s tough to say whether the Dunlop/Srixon marriage will be a successful one. Brand loyalty is rampant amongst tennis players, and fans of heavyweights like Babolat, Head and Wilson generally need significant enticement to move on. But the merger might pique enough curiosity for people to give Dunlop frames another look. If the performance of the CV 3.0 is an early indication, expect more good things to come.