After the remodel of the Pure Drive in 2018 and launch of the Pure Drive VS in 2019, Babolat goes back to the drawing board to innovate their 2021 Pure Drive. With feedback from customers and players, Babolat launches the newest Pure Drive model aimed to please thousands. The brand adds a new lay-up composition, called HTR System, and improved the shock absorption, with SWX Pure Feel, to give players explosivity and unrivaled feel. The elliptical frame and FSI Power grommets carry over from the previous version as well to optimize the sweetspot and power potential. As a huge fan of the Pure Drive family, I was excited to get the latest version out on court and see what differences it could make for my game.
Like many different versions of the Pure Drive, easy power is still the name of the game. However, the biggest difference players will notice is the tremendous improvement in feel. The specs will remain roughly the same as the 2018 model, but feel is much improved. I noticed right away that ball feel from the string bed was way more plush than ever before and it allowed me to keep the ball on the strings longer. I could easily dictate points from anywhere on the court and create offense at any point during the rally. Topspin and slices seemed to jump even more off the court keeping my opponents guessing more often. I do think the feel is going to give players way more control than ever before without limiting easy access to power. There’s still enough mass to plow through shots from the baseline and maintain great stability against advanced players.
Volleys & Serves
My favorite thing about the new Pure Drive was improved feel on volleys. The added comfort made it effortless to hit precise touch volleys with great command. Additionally with the exceptional power level it made it easy to put away any high ball. Like many of the previous versions it’s quite maneuverable for quick exchanges at the net and doesn’t lack in stability. The only downside was when I became too casual and the frame floated some of my volleys up higher than normal putting me in big trouble. Serving also remains a great attribute of the Pure Drive. There’s enough power for flattening out serves at will, and easy acceleration for generating a high kick serve or low slice out wide. I also felt more confident going for challenging second serves thanks to the improved precision.
Compared the previous generations of the Pure Drive, I think the feel has improved tremendously. It’s similar to the original Soft Pure Drive which Carlos Moya used back in the late 1990s. The improved SWX Pure Feel technology produced a noticeably more comfortable and consistent response. Even if I hit off the frame, I didn’t encounter any harshness in my elbow or wrist. Players will see a huge difference in comfort and won’t be afraid of using firmer strings.
I don’t know how Babolat has done it, but kudos to the French brand for improving a racquet that already does many things well. The brand makes a noticeable change in feel without taking away any power or spin. Additionally the feel enhances the precision just enough so advanced players can play with greater margin on the court. All levels of players will truly enjoy the newest Babolat Pure Drive and wonder about making a switch.
Note: We strung the playtest racquet with Babolat RPM Blast 18G at 54 lbs and Volkl Cyclone 16G at 52 lbs.
About the Reviewer: Chris Virk-Brown currently works at Tennis Express on the Content Marketing team. He previously played at Neumann University and coached at the collegiate level for 3 years. He is an active USTA League and Tournament player at the 4.5 NTRP level.