Adidas has been on a great run of tennis footwear lately with the updates to the venerable Barricade and lightning quick Ubersonic series getting rave reviews. Based on positive response to their special Y-3 edition French Open shoe last year, Adidas debuts the all new Defiant Bounce. Built to provide comfort, style and solid performance both on and off court, this shoe appeals to a broad range of players. The Bounce cushioning in the midsole offers an excellent blend of comfort and energy return for explosive movement. The seamless, knit bootee upper has a soft accommodating feel and integrates AdiTuff material for extra wear resistance. The sole uses AdiWear 6 for improved durability under heavy use. I got to hit the courts with this feature rich shoe recently to see how it measured up.
The Defiant Bounce offered great out of the box comfort with zero break in. The knit upper was soft and stretchy and easily molded to my foot within a couple play sessions. The length of the shoe was true and I found the fit to be a bit wider than the similar Ubersonic 2, especially in the toe box. Arch support was pretty low, another difference from other models in the Adidas lineup. This design makes the Defiant a solid option for players with wider, flatter feet. The Bounce midsole provided a solid cushioning but I did feel it was a bit more suited to extended play on clay courts. I never felt a lack of cushioning during play but after extended hard court sessions, I felt more fatigue in my legs than with other shoes with higher quality cushioning. The only other quibble I could find with the comfort of this shoe was with the crazy thin laces. Just like the Ubersonics, Adidas used a razor thin lace on the Defiant Bounce and it cut into my foot if I cinched it too tightly. It was an easy problem to fix as I swapped them out for thicker laces, but it’s an issue Adidas needs to address in future iterations of the shoe.
With a knit upper, it was practically a given that the Defiant Bounce would have good breathability. The choice to use light layers of Adituff in high wear areas kept the shoe from being sealed up by durability focused materials. The shoe has a light airy feel and I especially enjoyed the cooler, all white color way during hot summer play.
On court performance of the Defiant Bounce was definitely a highlight. The low, lightweight sock like construction made it a very unobtrusive shoe and I was able to play without ever feeling like the shoe was holding me back. With such a soft structural design, I felt it lacked a little bit of lateral support. While clay court performance was exceptional, I found myself wishing for a bit more stability under aggressive movement on hard courts. The same held true for traction. The Defiant comes with a full herringbone tread pattern. This led to an exceptional balance of grip and slide on clay but on hard court the outsole was a little more slippery than I’d like it to be. I’d be curious to see how the shoe would change with a modified herringbone pattern more suited to hard courts. Much like the majority of lightweight shoes, the Defiant Bounces outsole had a short lifespan under heavy use. Frequent hard court play led some bald patches within a few weeks of play for me. There is also not a lot of protection around the toe and medial drag areas. There were some layers of Adituff but they did not seem to be thick enough to hold up to a heavy toe dragger. The Defiant Bounces hit their sweetspot performance wise on either clay or quick hits on hard courts where I wanted a shoe I could immediately transition off the court with.
Adidas has an intriguing new option in the lightweight shoe category with the introduction of the Defiant Bounce. With a wider fit than other options and a flexible knit upper, it will fit a variety of foot types. The Bounce midsole and soft upper combine to offer excellent comfort both on and off court. While heavy movers may want additional stability and a more durable outsole, there is an impressive amount of on court performance packed into the shoe. Overall, the new Adidas Defiant Bounce offers exceptional out of the box comfort, fast feel on hard and clay courts and the ability to transition to a stylish off court option when you are done playing for the day.
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.