The addition of Graphene Touch to the Head Radical Pro’s composition is designed to create a more muted, comfortable feel. The previous versions weren’t exactly tuning forks, but this update does have a more dampened response at contact. Depending on your feelings concerning its predecessors may determine whether you view this as an upgrade. I put the new Rad Pro in the hands of a former Division I player who regularly plays with the original Graphene version, and after just a few groundies his immediate response was that the current release hushed up at impact.
“Muted is exactly what it is,” he determined.
He happened to prefer the added feedback and connection to his older Graphene model, but otherwise found the performance of the Graphene Touch incarnation to be in-line with what the Radical Pro has evolved into: a firm, lively, stable frame that delivers a powerful, heavy ball. The sufficient swingweight gave strokes good plow through, yet was quick enough to reward full, fast cuts with ample pace and penetration. The 16x19 string pattern has eight mains through the throat for enhanced control, but still managed to put plenty of spin on the ball. Simply put, if you like to hit aggressive, dictating ground strokes with a decent amount of predictability, or like to counterpunch into big targets, you’ll like what the Radical Pro can do.
While similar in execution, one of the issues I had with the previous version, was the brassy feel on off-center shots. This latest edition still played firm, but the Graphene Touch definitely helped mitigate that issue. The downside was, with less connection to the ball at contact, I felt my shots were wilder and more erratic than expected. However, the added comfort was a worthwhile tradeoff for me. I’m not sure I’d ever get completely dialed-in with the frame—total precision is not its forte—but increased familiarity with its response would likely make command less of a concern.
Which was not much trouble at all on serves. The frame has a beefiness to it, but still accelerated quickly through contact for easy power. I could really rear back and nail flat first serves; which probably led to some overhitting as my consistency wasn’t as high as I would’ve liked. When second serves were required, I had good success applying added spin to keep my opponents at bay. My overall serving direction wasn’t spot-on, but the frame excelled more when summoning pace rather than placement.
An assessment that was certainly true when volleying. I have always found the Graphene Radicals to possess an almost hollow feel at net. There must be something about the lack of weight in the throat that contributes to this sensation. Unfortunately, this Rad Pro was no different. In fact, the more muted response may have caused even more volley distress. It packed plenty of substance to deflect incoming pace, and certainly was adept at pounding away sitters. But the combination of big power and muffled feel added up to suspect control. I ended up aiming for safer targets which stifled my aggressiveness. I also struggled with touch as the frame’s performance dropped the shorter and slower I swung it.
All told, this Radical Pro left me feeling the way I have about the frame since it went Graphene. The vibrant, clever graphics—the lettering spells Radical no matter which direction you read it—gives it an updated, catchy look, and the addition of Graphene Touch does create a more dampened, friendlier response. But at its core, the racquet remains a heavy-hitter that excels at cracking winners and bully tactics, with the Graphene feel continuing to be an acquired taste. It should suit players caught between the unruliness of pure power frames and the high demands of a true player’s racquet. If that’s where you reside, or you found the previous versions too harsh feeling, this new Radical Pro is a very comfortable compromise.