Babolat Pure Drive 98
  • Price: $279 / $559 (pair) (buy here)
  • Head Size: 98 sq. in.
  • Length: 27 in.
  • Weight: 11.4 oz.
  • Balance: 4 pts. HL
  • Swingweight: 317
  • RA Rating: 69
  • Beam Width: 21 mm / 23 mm / 21 mm
  • String Pattern: 16x19

What’s New

The Pure Drive 98 replaces the outgoing VS model. Both share the same frame dimensions, but the update boasts an additional 5g and a shift in balance that puts more of its weight towards the head. As with the other current Pure Drive frames, the 98 has been furnished with the High Torsional Rigidity system—a new lay-up composition in the hoop of the frame for better stability and subsequent energy return, particularly on faster swings. It also has expanded SWX Pure Feel into the shaft to better disperse vibrations for better ball feel and sound clarity at contact.

What Works

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.


Babolat Pure Drive 98

Babolat Pure Drive 98

What Needs Work

The PD 98 produces an overall clean and comfortable response, but it’s still on the firm side. This is most apparent on hot shots contacted off-center. Catch a hard pass toward the tip of the frame and it can feel a little stiff. It’s an occasional hiccup and an area of substantial improvement compared to its predecessor, but still something to consider for players with arm issues.

Along those same lines, for some players the frame may lack the touch and resourcefulness of other competing 98s with more flex. It’s great when taking a full cut, but on shorter swings, in-between shots and taking pace off the ball can sometimes remind you it’s a Pure Drive.

Tester Feedback

“On offense, it just rips.”

“Everything I’ve always liked about the Pure Drive, but with the ability to swing away without feeling like I’m losing control of it.”

“I’d recommend it to a solid, developing junior as well as to a 50+ player looking to transition from something heavier and low-powered.”

Final Verdict

The 98 square-inch, 305g racquet category is deep and talented and this Babolat holds its own with the best of them. It’s a marked improvement over the outgoing model and delivers much of the franchise’s signature swagger in a more controllable and versatile package. It’s a winner.