Babolat introduces the latest version of their venerable Pure Drive line in 2015. The latest version retains all of the hallmarks players love about the racquet while making some new tweaks. Babolat leverages the data from the Pure Drive Play frame to incorporate Frame-String Interaction (FSI) technology into this model. FSI tightens the string spacing at the top of the frame for improved control and response. I took the new Plus model of the Pure Drive out on court to see how the new technology and extra half inch of length stack up during play.
Power is the unmistakable hallmark of the racquet and the Pure Drive Plus has it in spades. The racquet is capable of hitting booming ground strokes off either side thanks to its high stiffness and 23/26/23 beam width. Strung with full multifilament, I found it almost too powerful at times but it was still incredibly confidence inspiring to know the power that is on tap at any moment. FSI provides a slightly improved response and directional control on shots off the top of the bed but I did not find it to be a drastic improvement. The 16 x 19 pattern provides easy spin access and the extra length provides additional leverage for spin generation. The strung weight of a shade over 11 oz provides enough mass for shots to have weight behind them while being light enough to still accelerate through the zone quickly. I also found the extra length beneficial when stretched out on defensive shots, allowing me to extend points.
Volleys & Serves
The Pure Drive Plus is all about the power volley. Players will be rewarded for aggressive tactics at the net by being able to finish volleys with ease. I found the extra length to make the racquet slightly more cumbersome during rapid exchanges but not in a way that significantly hampered my ability to win points. Touch volleys are a bit more challenging as the racquet’s stiffness works against it in those situations. Players used to more flexible games will need some adjustment to the feel before being comfortable executing feel volleys.
Serving with the Pure Drive Plus creates the possibility for nearly instant offense. The inherent power and added leverage at the top of the motion allowed me to drive flat serves through the court with excellent pace and weight. The length and fairly open pattern also provide excellent access to spin, letting you mix in kick and slice serves to keep opponents guessing.
As a baseline oriented weapon, one shouldn’t expect a premium on feel and comfort out of the Pure Drive Plus. The Cortex system does an admirable job at providing a consistent feel and response off the string bed but the high stiffness is still evident. Touch shots are possible but require more effort and focus to execute consistently. While I did not experience any discomfort overall, players may want to be more selective in their string choices and tension if they have sensitive arms.
The 2015 Pure Drive Plus is yet another incredible racquet built for offensive baseline tennis. It’s easy access to power and spin while also playing at a manageable weight make it appealing to a wide range of players. The added ½ inch of length generates more leverage off the ground and on the serve and also aids on defensive shots. FSI provides a predictable response for the vast majority of players who make contact high in the string bed. Babolat has another immensely popular offering for the modern tennis player with this latest addition to the Pure Drive family.
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.