HEAD Graphene XT Radical S Tennis Racquet Review
Head continues to expand the usage of Graphene XT with the update to the Radical line now taking advantage of the 30% stronger material. The new Head Graphene XT Radical S takes advantage of the material by putting the improved power and response into a package that is lightweight and forgiving. The Dynamic String Pattern creates controllable power by utilizing tighter string spacing in the center of the contact zone. Beginners and intermediate players who want a racquet that is easy to swing with an excellent mix of power, spin and control will find a lot to like with this frame. Here’s what I found when I took to the court recently with the racquet.
Speed and forgiveness were the two words that came to mind for ground strokes with the XT Radical S. The racquet’ low 10.4oz strung weight made it easy for me to whip it through the zone and amp up the pace on the ball. The frame has a thicker beam than the standard Radical so I found it easier to control the power when I didn’t back off the swing speed. The frame also got a bit of extra power by having slightly more mass in the head. I had no trouble taking the ball early and I was able to take advantage of a lot of cross court shot making. This model has a larger 102 inch head so the sweet spot was larger than the standard Pro and MPA models. This provided a lot of forgiveness on off center shots and kept a more consistent power level across the string bed. The 16x19 pattern provided a good mix of spin production and ability to control flatter shots. I was able to create solid margin on both wings and attack short balls with aggressive targets. I would have preferred a bit more weight for finishing off points but most players using this frame should find it more than adequate. The racquet was surprisingly stable for its weight, most likely due to it’s slightly head heavy balance.
Volleys & serves
The forgiving construction of the XT Radical S made it a capable performer at net. It was light enough to maneuver into position quickly and I was able to keep up in fast exchanges without issue. The larger head provided more forgiveness, ensuring even off center volleys had a strong chance of landing in. The frame rewarded aggressive volleys and I was able to finish high volleys easily. The 16x19 pattern offered good directional control and I was able to consistently hit to aggressive targets. Volleys that I played more passively tended to float and didn’t have the weight behind them to drive through the court. The lack of weight also made touch volleys a bit more challenging to execute but I eventually found success as I adjusted. The racquet again played surprisingly stable for its weight at net and the head heavy balance seemed to allow me to block body shots back better than I anticipated.
Speed was the name of the game when serving with the XT Radical S. The low weight made it exceptionally easy to accelerate through contact and put solid pace on my first serve. While the frame lacked the court penetration of the heavier versions, there was enough ball speed to keep my opponents from getting too aggressive. Accuracy was solid as long as I kept my swing speed up. When I slowed my swing, I had more trouble controlling the power and keeping the ball inside the box. The larger head, easy speed and fairly open pattern all worked in tandem to offer plenty of spin on second serves. My kick serve had good action on it. My slice serve sat up a bit more compared to the heavier models so I tended to rely more on kicking my second serve out of my opponents’ strike zones.
With substantially reduced flex compared to the standard Radicals, I found much more feel with the XT Radical S. It had a clean, consistent response across the string bed. The increased flexibility gave me the confidence to execute a lot of touch shots from the back of the court. I felt more connected to the ball on contact and had a good sense of how the ball was exiting the string bed. The larger head and sweet spot made this frame play with great comfort and it should be easy on the arm for all players.
Developing players seeking to improve their all court game will enjoy the updated Head Graphene XT Radical S. It is incredibly easy to swing and rewards players with a good balance between power, spin and surprising stability. Whether playing extended baseline rallies or moving in and attacking, the Radical S retains the line’s hallmark versatility and makes it accessible to players seeking an excellent game improvement frame.
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.