Advanced players looking for something that hits with authority and creativity have a new option with the introduction of the new Head Graphene 360 Radical Pro. Updated for 2019, Head has strategically added Graphene 360 to the shaft and head for higher power and improved stability. This version of Graphene also uses less of the vibration dampening Kraibon from the previous Graphene Touch, allowing for a better connected feel that still absorbs vibration. The Dynamic String Pattern adjusts the string spacing across the string bed for a blend of power and control. Long time Radical players will also need to adjust to the fact that Head has ditched its traditional grip shape on the Radical in favor of adopting the same handle shape from the Speed model line. Here’s a look at how this update to the Radical Pro performed on the court.
The 360 Radical Pro offered plenty of artillery off the ground. At 11.5 ounces strung, it packed a bigger punch than its lighter MP sibling. I was able to hit with ample pace and depth off of both wings. The 20/23/21 mm beam and slightly firmer RA produced power easily while still offering me the ability to keep it reigned in. The 98 inch head had a solid sweet spot and I didn’t notice any dramatic power outages on off center balls. The increased weight made easy work of balls left short in the court and I enjoyed its ability to flatten out mid court shots. Directional control was better with the Pro than the MP and I was able to consistently hit toward the lines play aggressively. Spin production was on par with what I expected from the Dynamic 16 x 19 pattern. The racquet was headlight enough for me to add the head speed necessary for extra spin. I enjoyed being able to lift the ball on my backhand and play with some additional margin when stretched on that side. Stability was improved although the racquet still felt like it was missing a bit of backbone in the middle of it (consistent with almost all the Graphene models I’ve tried). This problem could’ve been improved if I had added the optional CAP grommet system.
Volleys & Serves
At net, the 360 Radical Pro rewarded aggressive play. The racquet had easy power for making quick work of any ball I attacked. The frame was also very maneuverable and I was consistently able to get it into the right position during rapid fire net exchanges. Stability was better with this model but it still had a little bit of flutter when deflecting hard hit balls. The maneuverability and controllable power allowed me to pick aggressive targets with consistent success. I found it harder to execute touch volleys as the stiffness and dampened feel made me a bit too disconnected from the ball to perform those shots with confidence.
The Graphene 360 Radical Pro rewarded aggressive serving. I found it easy to accelerate and it rewarded big swings with plenty of pace and court penetration. When I slowed my swing speed, the frame was a little more erratic and left me vulnerable to aggressive returns. The Radical Pro had good accuracy and I was able to mix locations around the box when serving from either side. Spin for my second serve was easy to access and the Pro gave some serious bite to my slice serve. I was able to slide it way wide in the ad court and attack the open court from the first ball. With its mix of pace, depth and spin, the 360 Radical Pro was a strong performer whenever I needed a crucial hold.
While the 360 Radical Pro was more responsive than the previous Graphene Touch version, I still found it too be a bit too muted for my taste. The Kraibon dampening material admirably soaked up vibration but limited how well I could feel the ball on the string bed. This led to less confidence in creative shot making, which has been the calling card of the Radical line. The added stability of the Pro gave it some additional comfort and I found the racquet to be even in its response across the string bed. While arm sensitive players could vary their string type and tension, the extra weight of the Pro made it the more comfortable Radical for me in my play test.
Big hitting players who favor an all-court game will enjoy the Graphene 360 Radical Pro. It boasts power and court penetration from the baseline and a maneuverable nature at the net. It may not be the gold medalist in feel, but it provides enough versatility to be dangerous from any area of the court. The new Head Graphene 360 Radical Pro should please advanced players looking for controlled power, easy spin and a fast, easy to swing response.
About the Author: Matt Locke formerly served for 3 years as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho. He is a PTR certified coach and is an active USTA 4.5+ League and Tournament player. He loves Nadal’s determination, but secretly wishes he had Federer’s effortless style.