The new year brings resolutions, fitness goals, and for tennis players a plethora of new gear to get ready for the Spring seasons. January is feast time for racquet brands as they launch most of their 2021 catalogs to line up with the sport’s first grand slam in Australia. So, let’s go through what new tennis racquets our big brands have, for those of you shopping for a game-changing upgrade.
Starting with the “brand with two stripes” Babolat is building on the success of the late 2020 release of the Pure Drive. For January, Babolat adds the Pure Drive Plus, Pure Drive Tour, Team, Lite, 107, and 110. The new mirror cosmetic presents the “Drive” text in a unique way that maintains the iconic blue and black color scheme. With the 2021 Pure Drives, Babolat renewed the focus on the power aspect of the frames.
Without altering any of the specifications, the brand refined each racquet with SWX Pure Feel, and an extended section of SMAC material is embedded in the shafts to increase comfort. All of the new models have an addictive clean and improved sound at contact. Also, the new HTR (High Torsional Rigidity) composition of the hoop means greater stability and energy return across the whole string bed, again reinforcing the Pure Drive as the pre-eminent frame for tweener power.
The time has come for the Radical refresh. As the racquet line of choice for Andy Murray, Diego Schwartzman, and Sloane Stephens, The radical is touted as “the people’s racquet”. With the tagline, “No shot you can’t play.” The racquets have a high bar to clear. New models include the Radical MP, Radical S, and Radical Pro. The most noticeable change from previous versions is the more rounded head shape instead of the oval. HEAD increased the weight of the Radical Pro to 11.1 ounces and bumped the MP to 10.6 ounces.
The changes make the new tennis racquets a little bit more stable and thus more powerful. While the MP features the same variable beam design as its predecessor, the Pro gets a brand new mold with a slimmed-down beam for better ball feedback and precision. As far as the Radical S, it remains the most user-friendly racquet in the Radical catalog with a larger 102 head size. All of the Radical racquets feature Graphene 360+ and new Sound Grommets which enable greater string movement for more power. All three models feature HEAD’s Control pattern, which makes the 16×19 string patterns denser in the sweet spot for greater control.
Not to be forgotten, the Gravity series has been updated with another riff on the flip cosmetic.
The racquets now feature a yellow-green fade on one side and blue-violet fade on the other. The combination of the ellpitical beam design and the Flex Groove make the Gravity racquets uniquely flexible.
All the frames in the Gravity series feature a very rounded head with the widest portion slightly higher in the hoop for a larger and more accessible sweet spot. The frames are endorsed on tour by Alexander Zverev and Ashleigh Barty.
The Japanese brand has brand new VCORE models for 2021. The new tennis racquets are popularized on tour by fiery shot maker Denis Shapovalov. Though there are several frames receiving updates in the VCORE series, the three most popular are the VCORE 95, VCORE 98, and VCORE 100. Yonex built Vibration Dampening Mesh into the racquet handles to make the VCORES more comfortable.
They also raised the sweet spot of the VCORE with a slightly wider racquet head at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. The brand carries over Aero fin and Aero trench technology from the previous version to make sure VCORE continues to be Yonex’s most spin-friendly racquet line. The best blend of power and control belongs to the VCORE 98, While the 95 offers scalpel-like control, and the 100 is the most powerful. The VCORES again are featured in a bright red cosmetic, but this time with some subtle blue accents which give the series a one-of-a-kind look.
Though he struggled in 2020 with injuries, Kevin Anderson is undoubtedly Dunlop’s, most high-profile star. It will be up to him, and players like Taylor Townshend to represent the 2021 CX 200 series racquets on tour. The CX is a racquet line based on ball control, and Sonic Core with Infinergy is embedded into the racquet hoops for greater comfort and improved energy return. Additionally, new technology from Dunlop, called Flex Booster consists of a highly-elastic vibration dampening layer embedded in the shaft. This allows for the racquet to be powerful and stable across the string bed, but more comfortable thanks to greater flex on the shaft area.
The CX 200 Tour is the most precise racquet in the line, it comes with the thinnest of beams and a dense 18×20 string pattern. The most popular model in the group is the CX 200 and it features a 98 square inch head and a more palatable 10.8 oz unstrung weight. Two molded frames to keep your eye on are the CX 200 OS and CX 400 Tour. The OS brings the incredible comfort Dunlop is known for to a larger hitting area that is more forgiving, yet still a capable frame for advanced players. The 400 Tour packs more punch than the thinner and smaller-headed CX 200 series.
You can expect the CX 400 Tour to be a little crisper than the more plush 200 frames. If you have your eye on a lighter model, the CX series offers the LS(Lite Spec) and it is only 10.2 ounces unstrung. The look on the CX racquets is very nice. The deep red cosmetic helps highlight Dunlop’s “Flying D” logo.
For the first of the year, Wilson has three of their most popular racquets available in sleek reverse cosmetics. The Blade v7 16×19 gets a bright green makeover, the Ultra 100 v3 looks great in Ultra Blue, and the Clash 100 gets an infusion of Infrared.
These new tennis racquets are fun change-ups to the cosmetics, but they keep the same specifications as the in-line models.
Wilson also brings back some favorites from the past with the return of the Blade 98 v6 and Ultra 100 v2. These frames don’t feature Countervail (like they did previously) but they represent a nice value in a performance racquet.
Bookmark this page and check back throughout the year for the latest racquet releases from all the biggest brands.