Head’s Radical line has been marketed as the frame for players who want to utilize variety so it only makes sense that Head would continue to offer multiple models of this popular series. The new Head Graphene 360 Radical MP is built for intermediate and advanced players who want something that swings fast while offering a balanced blend of power and control. New for this model, Head has incorporated Graphene 360 in the shaft and head for greater stability and energy return. This material also uses less of the vibration dampening Kraibon from the previous Graphene Touch, providing a dampened yet better connected feel. The Dynamic String Pattern tightens the spacing of the middle mains for enhanced control. Head has also moved the Radical over to the handle shape from the Speed line, which may be a big adjustment for long standing Radical fans. I took the court with the Graphene 360 Radical MP recently to see how these incremental changes measured up.
The 360 Radical MP accelerated very well for groundstrokes. I created plenty of racquet head speed off both sides, producing balls with excellent pace and depth. The 20/23/21 mm beam and slightly firmer RA had solid power off the ground without feeling overwhelming. It also had a solid sweet spot for a 98 inch head. The solid swingweight made the racquet punch above its weight class and I was impressed with the weight of shot the frame produced. The fast feel allowed me to take ball early, creating great cross court angles that I came in behind. At 11 ounces strung, the racquet lacked a bit of mass when I tried to flatten out mid court shots and I missed the court penetration of the Pro version. Directional control was good, but I found myself struggling a bit more when I slowed my swing and hit more of a rally ball. The racquet seemed to get more precise with faster swing speeds. Spin production was on par with what I expected from a 16 x 19 pattern. It wasn’t eye popping but I found enough spin to play with margin and vary the height of my shot easily. Despite the swingweight, the frame felt a bit unstable against big hitters. This has been a trend in the Graphene lines for me, as the weight polarization out to the tips of the racquet has left them feeling a bit unstable in the throat and middle of the head.
Volleys & Serves
At net, the 360 Radical MP showed some offensive prowess. Balls left high for me were dispatched in short order and the racquet was fast enough to stay in front of most volley exchanges. Instability reared its head again when I had to fight off big shots as the racquet simply didn’t have the mass or distribution of it to absorb the impact. Accuracy was solid and I was generally able to volley to aggressive targets with high success. The frame played with a muted response and when combined with the increased stiffness, I struggled a bit with executing drop and touch volleys. I didn’t feel connected enough to the ball to manipulate it confidently on more delicate volleys.
On serve, the updated Radical MP was a versatile weapon. The lighter weight and head light balance resulted in ample head speed at the top of my motion. Power was easy to tap into and I appreciated the moderate level as it kept me from bombing serves way long. Flat first serves had plenty of pace, but lacked the court penetration of the ones I hit with the Radical Pro. Directional accuracy was again a solid point of the racquet. I was able to move my serves around the box and pick aggressive serving targets. Spin production was easy to come by thanks to the easy acceleration and open pattern. I was able to get kick serves up high on returners and hit slice serves that slid out wide in the ad court. The overall ability for me to mix serve speeds, spins and placements gave me tremendous confidence in taking care of business on my service games.
The previous Graphene Touch lineup of frames was criticized for its overly muted feel and disconnection from the ball. The new Graphene 360 Radical lowered the amount of vibration absorbing Kraibon being used but still had some connection issues. The muted feel and higher stiffness left me unsure of what the ball was doing as it left the string bed. This created some challenges in executing delicate shots that required me to feel the ball on the frame. The racquet played comfortable overall, although I did have a little bit of post play soreness. This highlighted the fact that like any of the other dampening materials on the market (Countervail, Cortex Pure Feel) it was still masking vibration, not making the frame actually softer. Sensitive players would want to experiment with softer strings and lower tensions to ensure adequate comfort.
The Graphene 360 Radical MP is a step in the right direction for Head. It returns a bit more feel than the last version while keeping the frame fast, powerful and controllable. While it lacks the stability of its Pro sibling, the MP provides easy access to pace and spin from the back of the court while also playing fast at the net. Players who want a racquet with solid dampening that doesn’t skimp on its ability to be an all court weapon will want to test out the new Head Graphene 360 Radical MP.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke formerly served for 3 years as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho. He is a PTR certified coach and is an active USTA 4.5 League and Tournament player.
Slightly lighter than the Radical Pro, its bigger tour brother, the Radical MP is designed for the all-court tournament player. It now comes with the new Graphene 360 technology for greater stability and optimized energy transfer resulting in more power and consequently more ball speed. The most versatile racquet of the series also features a dynamic 16/19 string pattern for enhanced playability and spin. With a new asymmetric design that represents the silo's versatility, the Racdical MP also provides the perfect combination of power and handling so from now on there's no shot you can't play.