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Racquet Review: Head Radical MP 2023
Subtle tweaks to its stability and feedback enhance the all-court playability of this longtime favorite.
Published Mar 10, 2023
THE BREAK: Is the one-handed backhand going extinct?
Price: $259 (buy here)
Head Size: 98 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 11.1 oz.
Balance: 4 pts. HL
RA Rating: 65
Beam Width: 20 mm / 23 mm / 21 mm
String Pattern: 16x19
The Radical MP has been updated with Auxetic—a carbon fiber construction in the yoke of the frame that resists deformation at contact regardless of impact location on the string bed. It’s intended to be particularly beneficial on off-center hits. Graphene Inside (formerly called Graphene 360+) returns again, strategically placing Graphene around the hoop for power and stability, and combining it with Spiralfibers for an improved feel.
The Radical MP 2021 boasted major changes including a new mold with a rounder head shape, thicker yoke, more weight and greater flexibility. It was largely deemed a success, so this time around the alterations to the frame were much more incremental. The specs remain intact, but the addition of Auxetic gives the 2023 model subtle improvements in the stability and feedback departments.
From a playability standpoint, the new Radical MP remains true to its heritage of being a dependable worker from all areas of the court. Racquet head speed is fairly easy to generate and puts the mass at the top of frame to good use. The power level sits in the sweet spot between higher-powered players frames and lower-powered tweeners which will be attractive to a large audience. Both pace and plow through are rather impressive for a racquet of its weight class. And perhaps not a broken-in glove, contact still feels clean and mostly pleasing.
Head’s Dynamic String Pattern creates a tighter configuration in the center of the string bed for heightened control. Bread-and-butter shots are highly repeatable and predictable, leading to consistent ball striking. In terms of spin, it provides a suitable platform to produce adequate amounts, certainly enough for players already adept at putting work on the ball. Whether trying to flick a topspin lob or carve a sharp angle, you won’t feel limited.
Serves have plenty of life with good command. It’s no trouble dialing up different speeds, spins and direction to get the point started on positive terms. Although not a rocket launcher, it’s the type of frame that effectively adds to what a player already brings to the court. So if you’ve already got some pop in your delivery, the racquet can help turn up the volume.
When volleying, the frame is more than capable in most situations. Punching the ball through the court or employing touch are equally applicable tactics. The string bed is also rather forgiving, performing more like a 100 than a 98—it’s apparent when digging out a low ball or forced into other improvisation. If you like to attack from all areas of the court or play lots of doubles, the Radical MP has you covered.
What Needs Work
The stability of the MP will satisfy most players, but could be wanting for those in the 4.5+ category. The frame can lose composure when combatting a heavy ball; starch on the volley can drop in similar conditions. At times the instability carries over to longer, faster swings that are slightly off-center. However, players trafficking primarily in medium-paced ball speeds should have no trouble.
More advanced players seeking added backbone or clout on their strokes could look to the heavier Pro model as an option. If the feel at contact and user-friendliness of the MP is preferable, some strategically placed lead or other additional weight would be a better route. Either alternative would go a long way to solving the issue.
“I like that the racquet kept my swing options open and didn't force me into a particular style of play.”
“Forgiving enough for a beginner to learn with, but not something they will outgrow as they advance.”
“I’d given up on the Radical line, but it is back as a contender.”
“The People’s Racquet” is what Head dubs the Radical. With its versatility and attractive balance of power and precision, the latest MP should be a real crowd-pleaser.