After debuting it on tour and in select player’s hands as the secretive “Project One Seven”, Babolat has finally pulled the cover back on its update to the Pure Strike line of racquets. Sporting a new cosmetic and some technical enhancements, Babolat aims to bring more players to this frame’s attacking style. The updated line adopts FSI Power, widening the cross spacing at the top of the hoop for extra power and spin. The new Pure Strike retains the previous model’s Hybrid Frame Construction, which mixes elliptical and square beam shapes. The update thickens the beam width in key areas of the throat and hoop to improve stability and power. I took to the court with the new Pure Strike 16 x 19 recently to take a look at how it measured up.
The new Pure Strike 16 x 19 was an impressive weapon off the ground. The slightly wider beam added a bit more pop than the previous version and I was able to hit big from either side. While it may not have the same level of power as something like a Pure Drive, there was no shortage of pop from the back of the court. The manageable 11.3oz strung weight and head light balance made it easy to accelerate through contact for plenty of power and spin. The sweet spot was generous although I did see a little bit of a power dip to the sides of the string bed. The 21/23/21 mm beam width provided excellent control to pair with the power. I was able to swing big and pick aggressive targets with confidence. I had tremendous success redirecting my backhand down the line and driving balls deep into the corner of the court. Spin production was extremely impressive as well. The 16x19 pattern produced impressive rotation, especially off the upper part of the string bed where I tend to make contact. I was able to create margin off both wings and use spin to push opponents back. The racquet then made an easy transition to flattening out short balls. The biggest improvement over the previous version was the stability off the ground. The old model fluttered quite a bit and felt a bit choppy through the air. This update felt smooth all the way through the swing and was stable enough to redirect pace from big hitters for excellent defense.
Volleys & Serves
At net, the Pure Strike 16 x 19 was equally as dangerous. The weight and balance combined to make it extremely nimble and I was consistently able to stay ahead in rapid fire exchanges. The solid power level made quick work of any volley left in my strike zone. I also enjoyed the excellent control the frame offered. I was able to create angles and pick spots that consistently pushed my opponents into bad positions. The enhanced stability was on display again when volleying. I was able to deflect hard shots with minimal twisting of the frame and it did a great job soaking up the pace from big hitters. The solid feel of the frame also provided exceptional feel for executing drop and touch volleys at will. On any ball, I could drive it back deep or bleed all the pace off and drop it short, giving me a multitude of options to control the point from the net.
On serve the Pure Strike 16 x 19 provided an array of options for me to choose from. The solid power level and fast feel made it easy to generate plenty of pace for flat serves. I was able to hit bombs from both deuce and ad positions. More than just a canon, the frame’s impeccable control allowed me to pinpoint targets and move my serves around the box with ease. The easy access to spin also paid dividends on my second serve. I got excellent action on kick serves and was able to get the ball out of my opponents’ strike zones. My slice serve also proved to be effective in the ad court as I could drag players wide and then step in and hammer the first ball.
The Pure Strike played with more of a traditional feel than most of the Babolat lineup. It offered solid feel on contact with a firm but comfortable response. The racquet felt a bit firmer off center but did not display any harsh feedback. It did a good job dampening vibration while still offering a well connected feel for executing touch shots. Players with sensitive arms who have been leery of Babolat’s stiffer offerings should have success with the Pure Strike. Choosing a softer string would also further enhance the comfort offered by the racquet.
Players who weren’t quite sold on the first generation of Pure Strike should be suitably impressed with this new update. The new Pure Strike 16 x 19 benefits from improved stability and power without losing the control and maneuverability that make it such a weapon. It offers an excellent mix of pop, spin and accuracy that will allow players to attack the ball from anywhere on the court and strike first in rallies.
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.