The concept behind the VS—enhanced command and feel thanks to a smaller head and thinner, more flexible beam—made it a highly attractive addition to the Pure Drive lineup. However, its execution left some room for growth. It had a smallish sweet spot and could feel rather squirrely when contact was outside of it. And while extremely quick and easy to generate swing speed, it often lacked the necessary substance to compete at the playing levels it was designed to inhabit.
Whether it’s the added weight, change in balance, the HTR system, or a combination of all three, the new 98 is a more fully realized and effective interpretation of a player’s Pure Drive. The stability is noticeably improved, as is the solid feel at contact. It has many of the trappings the PD 100 is known for, but with increased focus and predictability thanks to its reduced geometry.
“Controllable power” is often the lodestar for frames in this modern players category, and the PD 98 owns it about as well as any. It can produce the weighty serves and ground strokes expected of a heavier frame without the need to work as hard. Yet, you don’t have the sense that you need to let up on shots for a lack of trust. You may—and probably will—overhit a few, but it feels earned.
The other area it carves its own unique identity in the franchise is in its versatility. It has the quick strike capacity to play bully ball and serve +1 tactics, but the thinner beam and greater flex expands its back of tricks. The racquet doesn’t have the plush feel of a softer or heavier frame, but nonetheless still has satisfying touch with predictable enough results. So you can manipulate the slice backhand as a deep chip or a biting angle with equal ease; pummel a return or dip it at an opponent’s feet.
It’s also well-equipped to perform in the forecourt. It handles ably at net with respectable targeting—the ball is in-and-out of the string bed quickly and generally headed to the desired spot. Yet, there’s just enough flex and ball connection to produce drop volleys and clever angles. More than any previous Pure Drive, it has the chops for all-court play.
As with the outgoing VS, the PD 98 will be sold as a single, or in matched pairs. The pair will have a weight tolerance of just 1g, well below industry standard. It’s a nice benefit for serious competitors who will generally require more than one frame, and the peace of mind that they’re nearly identical.