HEAD Graphene XT Radical MP A ASP Tennis Racquet Review
With the Head Radical being a frame capable of a variety of shots, it only makes sense to make multiple versions that suit a variety of players. The all new Graphene XT Radical MPA provides a mid weight option for both intermediate players and advanced ones who want a lightning fast response. The frame takes advantage of Graphene XT in the shaft. This material is 30% stronger than Graphene, allowing Head to push more weight to the tip and tail for more power without sacrificing maneuverability. The new update also introduces Adaptive String Pattern (ASP) technology to the Radical, letting players go from a 16x19 pattern to a 16x16 pattern by changing out the side grommet strips. At 11oz (strung), a head light balance, stiffness of 64RA and a 319 swing weight, the racquet is an excellent mix of spin and power while still offering the control necessary for delicate shots.
The XT Radical MPA accelerates incredibly well for groundstrokes. I was able to create plenty of racquet head speed off both sides, producing balls with excellent pace and depth. The solid swingweight allowed me to create heavy, penetrating shots on offense. The fast feel also really allowed me to take ball early, creating great cross court angles that I could follow in. The half ounce reduction in weight compared to the Pro was noticeable on short balls that I tried to flatten out. I could hit them with plenty of pace but they did not feel like they were driving through the court as much as I wanted. Spin production was excellent but it really shined when playing the 16x16 configuration. The open pattern created tremendous spin and allowed me to play my backhand with much more margin than usual. The trade off was that the frame lost a bit of control with the 16x16 pattern and I had to play more conservative targets. The frame also lacked some stability on defense. There was noticeable wobble against big hitters as it struggled to absorb their pace.
Volleys & serves
At net, the XT Radical MPA continued to show its offensive capabilities. I was able to attack high volleys with ease and make quick work of balls my opponents left up for me. The ultra fast feel also allowed me to stay in front of rapid exchanges. The frame volleyed more accurately with the 16x19 pattern. The 16x16 pattern floated more balls and I struggled a bit with directional accuracy, having to pick safer targets to volley to. The racquet played with enough flex that I had good success performing drop and touch volleys. This provided me with a variety of options at the net, ensuring I had the upper hand when coming forward.
Serving with the XT Radical MPA was again an exercise in versatility. The lighter weight and head light balance resulted in excellent head speed through contact. I had plenty of pace on my first serve, although it didn’t seem as heavy as it did with the Pro model. Directional accuracy on serve was widely dependent on the string pattern. The 16x19 exhibited a good amount of accuracy while the 16x16 was a bit less precise. Just like groundstrokes, I served to safer targets with the more open pattern. Spin production was solid with the 16x19 pattern and really ramped up with the open version. The 16x16 pattern gave me vicious movement on kick serves and hard skidding slice serves on the ad court. I was able to consistently mix flat and spin serves to start my serving points on offense.
As the Radical line has moved to a stiffer construction in the last few years, the feel has been a hotly debated topic. The Graphene XT exhibited a clean response with only a slight increase in vibration outside the sweet spot. I found enough feel for executing touch shots, but I continued to find an oddly disconnected feel on contact. The ball seemed to exit the string bed too quickly to really get a sense of what it was going to do. I experienced no comfort issues with the frame and players should find adequate comfort in both 16x19 and 16x16 configurations.
The addition of the Adaptive String Pattern to the Head Graphene XT Radical MPA gives it the capability to produce even more shot variety. It blends power and spin with maneuverability and a choice for extra control or rotation depending on the string pattern. While advanced players may want to add weight for some extra power and stability, this racquet provides a tremendous amount of offensive weaponry and creativity for players to control any area of the court.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.