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: wear testers gave it solid scores in flex point (8) and stability (7.6). 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 and the medial toe wrap providing comfort and strength in high abrasion areas. Fila’s tennis heritage and experience constructing tennis shoes are assets, as is the shoe’s value for cost. With an MSRP of $75, this is the lowest-priced shoe we tested this fall.Dislikes:
Though Fila built its brand on style, wear testers said the shoe's cosmetic—it comes in white, silver and cherry, and black, white and metallic silver—was a bit too generic. In contrast to male wear testers, who praised the R4's ventilation, weight, stability, arch support and flex point, women wear testers were much more critical in all categories, scoring the shoe almost 30 percent lower. Some women wear testers said the fit was an issue (citing the toe box as being a bit too tight) and the shoe sometimes felt snug when making abrupt lateral moves along the baseline. 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 the shoe costs $20 less than the R8).Bottom Line:
The R4 elicited a marked discrepancy in final scores from men and women wear testers. While men gave the shoe strong grades across the board, women weren't as impressed. Fit was the primary objection among women wear testers. For that reason, we recommend women try the shoe a half-size larger than their normal size to ensure the best fit. 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.