Wilson Blade 98 v8


Price: $229
Head Size: 98 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 11.3 oz.
Balance: 5 pts. HL
Swingweight: 320
RA: 61
Beam Width: 21mm

There are some simple truths in tennis. For instance, double faults are killers, the return of serve is the most undervalued shot in the game, and the one-handed backhand is the more elegant stroke. When it comes to equipment, there's one that easily makes the list: the Wilson Blade 98 is a go-to racquet for serious competitors.

While different generations have their own appeals, you basically know what you’re getting with a Blade: a lower-powered, all-court frame with spot-on control and a comfortable, connected feel. For a frame at a modest 11.3 oz. strung weight, it plays with the substance and capabilities of a much heavier racquet. Its all-court prowess makes it adaptable to a variety of players who want to generate most of their pace and spin from their technique rather than their frames.

Version 8 of the franchise is no different. In fact, the aspect that arguably separates it most is its revamped exterior. Wilson veered away from the color accents at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock in favor of a new chameleon paint. The racquet can appear to have slight color changes depending on the angle and lighting. One moment it’s green, the next it’s more copper. Almost like a metaphor for the versatility of the frame. Opinions will vary, but count me a fan. As were pretty much every player I handed it to.

That said, players might be drawn to a racquet’s looks, but they buy it because of its personality. And there’s not a huge difference in performance between this Blade 98 and its predecessor. Which makes sense since the v7 was one of the best-selling Blades. The main technology, which was derived from the Clash line, has returned intact only with a new label—going from the previous FeelFlex to the current FortyFive. It increases both the frame’s flexibility and stability to improve feel and complement the more modern, vertical swing path of current players.

The stiffness ratings of the two are also practically identical. If pressed, I would say this one has a marginally firmer feel to the previous version. From the baseline, this perhaps gave the v8 a bit more solid feel at contact. A frequent playing partner who has used the Blade 98 (18x20) for several generations commented that this one was more stable than the v7, which could feel squirrely off-center. Still, compared to most modern frames it has a low flex and remains very arm-friendly.


The racquet can appear to have slight color changes depending on the angle and lighting. One moment it’s green, the next it’s more copper. Almost like a metaphor for the versatility of the frame.

In addition to that stability, I found a bit more predictability. The v7 was far from wild, but I did experience some instances when the racquet seemed to “flex out” after contact and launch the ball. This one had a more dependable response. Another reason could be the Direct Connect technology, which, other than the paint, is the new addition to this edition. The butt cap is fused to the carbon fiber portion of the handle for enhanced stability. Whether trying to bust open a point with a ripped forehand or a feathery drop shot—the capacity to do either is what makes the Blade unique—I felt more confident going after my shots.

The latest Blade 98 also seemed to be quicker with a lower swingweight. With a criticism of the Blade being that it’s somewhat sluggish for its weight, this could be a welcome modification for many players. On the other hand, it could be a demerit for frequent Blade users who prefer the more meaty swinging approach. The racquet did seem to lack some of the plow through of the previous generation. However, a little additional weight to the hoop would probably solve that problem.

Once again, the racquet is offered in two different string patterns. When it comes to which is superior, it really depends on how a player likes to conduct business. They played similarly, but each had its own distinct flavor.

The 16x19 model had a larger spin window, but still a rather tight pattern. Other than players whose preference is to overwhelm opponents with pace and massive topspin, it had the chops for power baseline tactics. It also had a softer pocket and swung a little easier as well. The more open pattern gave the ball more natural lift, and I favored it when it came to producing heavy ground strokes.

The tighter configuration of the 18x20 offered heightened command over shots and just felt more solid. I found both options to offer impressive feel and control at net, but the 18x20 The lower launch angle did cause balls to land shorter in the court and necessitated more attention to ball height over the net. Once that adjustment was made I could drive the ball through the court and be aggressive with my targets. The frame was my choice to hit slice backhands, volleys and return serve.

Both were standouts on serve. For whatever reason I’ve always gelled with Blades in this department. They moved efficiently through the strike zone and packed just enough extra pop to cause trouble without being disobedient—a Goldilocks when it comes to power and control. And there was enough access to spin to slide deliveries out wide or back up opponents with a high kick.

Overall, the Blade 98 v8 remains a potent weapon for skilled all-court competitors. Where v7 took strides to offset some of the missteps of the earlier Countervail version, this update works around the edges. The changes are subtle—quicker, enhanced feel and stability—and should be a rather seamless transition for current users. There’s no reason to think it won’t remain a common sight in the hands of accomplished players.

Now go practice those returns.