Fila celebrates its centennial anniversary with the sturdy R4, featuring a tough EverGrind herringbone outsole that supplies good traction and stability on both hard and clay courts. The strength of the shoe is its durability and stability. The R4 keeps you on the court with security and is responsive when you stop quickly to change directions on hard courts, slide into shots on clay, split-step near net or make quick crossover steps while chasing down deep balls. Mesh in the upper supplies ventilation, with reinforced cushioning around the heel providing comfort. Fila’s tennis heritage and experience constructing tennis shoes are an asset, as is the shoe’s value for cost. This is the lowest-priced shoe we tested this fall and scored solid marks in ventilation (8.8), weight (8.6), stability (8.2), arch support (8.2) and flex point (8). Though Fila lists the shoe as weighing 15.4 oz., the size 9 models we weighed weighed in at 14.2 oz. Dislikes:
Some wear testers said the toe box was a bit tight, though the shoe scored a respectable 8.2 in the cushioning category. The outsole design is durable, however Dr. Sharnoff said the last is a bit too sharply curved, and believes the shoe could use thinner EVA material in the mid sole to decrease the overall weight. Cosmetically, the R4 is an undistinguished shoe that comes in a traditional white, blue and red cosmetic, as well as a black, silver and sulphur, which should appeal most to Fila loyalists. Unlike the R8
, its slightly more developed older brother in the Fila family, the R4 does not come with a six-month outsole durability guarantee (but at $75, the shoe costs $20 less than the R8).Bottom Line:
While there is no single strikingly outstanding quality of the R4 that commands attention, this is a solid, all-around shoe that earned good grades from male wear testers. Fila has reduced the shoe’s weight, which is an improvement over some of the brand’s past entries, and testers were pleased with the R4’s breathability and quick break-in time. It’s a nondescript shoe that is best suited to club players who appreciate the tradition of the Italian brand and typically play less than four days a week. If you’re a more aggressive, more physical or more frequent player, you’d be better served trying Fila’s R8, a higher-performance shoe designed for the more athletic player. Overall, the R4 supplies fair value at a reasonable price.Dr. David G. Sharnoff is a podiatrist practicing in Shelton, Conn. He has served as TENNIS’ shoe adviser since 1986 and as a consultant to the WTA since 1989. A graduate of Ohio State, he played on the university’s varsity tennis team for four years and remains an active and accomplished player.