Starting out with the clever marketing moniker #ProjectOne7, from prototype to finished product the second generation of the Pure Strike was a hit. The cool, clean white cosmetic was an eye-catcher, and the improved pop and backbone over the premiere edition were all impressive upgrades. However, when compared to other Babolat lines, the Pure Strike still lacked something—a heavier option for players looking for even greater plow through and stability. Consider that problem solved with the third generation Pure Strike Tour.
The Pure Strike line is the control option in the Babolat range of racquets. Yet, while it doesn’t have the inherent power and spin of the Pure Drive and Pure Aero frames—thinner beams, tighter string spacing and lower flex will do that—it’s more adjacent those racquets rather than an outright departure. The Tour inhabits that same space.
The frame packs 15 additional grams over the standard Pure Strike 98 (16x19)—320g to 305g—which gives it broader shoulders. It does carry ample swingweight that could turn off those players who prefer whippier options. Yet, if you can handle the weight, it’s unlikely you’d leave a playtest with the racquet wondering whether it’s capable of consistently putting shots away; if anything, bigger hitters may wonder if they can properly tame it.
Otherwise bashing groundies and serves with the newest member of the Pure Strikes is pure fun. It’s a rock at contact with plenty of the aforementioned power, especially if you’re coming from a frame that puts more of the onus on the user. It feels substantial through the air, yet falls short of being cumbersome. You have to give it a ride, but you can still whip the racquet head for sufficient spin. I felt enough safety on my shots that I had the versatility to hang in rallies and play defense while looking for opportunities to bust open a point with a forceful swipe.
Being dictatorial with first serves was a highlight during the playtest. The mass in the head is a real ally—simply get it moving through contact and the ball jets through the court. The more relaxed swing seemed to give more directional control as well, as I could regularly aim close to the lines. If you’re a serve +1 player, the Tour will definitely oblige. I didn’t find it quite as accommodating on kick serves however. Even though a 16x19 pattern, it’s tighter than the other Babolat lines and I couldn’t quite generate the topspin I expect on second serves. But I do think with time that could be worked out.
Babolat was obviously pleased with the reception of the previous model, so they admittedly made rather incremental changes to its successor. On the outside, some flare has been added via a red bumper and snazzy graphics on the throat. Opinions will undoubtedly vary on whether these are improvements. On the inside, the most overt change is the addition of C2 Pure Feel—the latest rendition of their Cortex vibration dampening system—to the 3 and 9 o’clock positions of the hoop.
This is designed to give the frame a softer, more muted response and better ball-pocketing. It also has a slightly lower flex, which helps in the forgiveness department on off-center hits. Players accustomed to the crisper response of the previous model may find the updated feel an unwanted departure. However, I concluded that these alterations, along with the additional weight of the Tour, gave the frame a more comfortable and desirable feel.
The only area it fell short for me was at net. The head was practically immune to wobbling, able to handle and redirect incoming pace with interest. If anyone wants more weight on the frame, I would imagine it’s going to be placed in the handle. However, the dampening seemed to muddle the sensation at contact. It was no issue when going after the ball, but trying to play short in the court or with touch brought mixed results. I wasn’t always getting enough feedback when the ball was on the strings. Punching volleys with authority or nailing overheads were well within its purview, but I wasn’t as successful when guile was the necessary tactic. Still, it’s not a backboard, and probably wouldn’t be an issue for a player with naturally soft hands.
Overall, the racquet brings a lot to the court. The tweaks Babolat has made to the entire line—additional dampening, slightly lower flex—along with the extra mass give the Tour an exceedingly solid feel at contact. It packs more punch than a traditional players frame, yet it doesn’t fly off the handle. The heftiness isn’t for everyone, but if you can manage it, the added stability and weight of shot are worth the effort. It took a couple of generations to get here, but the Pure Strike Tour is a welcome addition to the family.