After going on hiatus for the second generation, Babolat is bringing back the Pure Strike Tour for its new 3rd generation of the line. The heaviest model in the Strike family, the new version now has a 16 x 19 string pattern and the latest in Babolat Tech. In the hoop the frame uses C2 Pure Feel (a mix of Cortex and a viscoelastic rubber called SMAC) to provide improved dampening and a softer response. The racquet also uses signature Pure Strike designs like Control Frame Technology, a blend of square beam stability and elliptical beam responsiveness. It also has FSI Power which widens the cross strings in the top of the pattern for easier power and spin generation. Having hit with the mainline 16 x 19 Pure Strike, I was eager to get my hands on the heavyweight version to see how it would measure up.
The new Pure Strike Tour essentially took all the positives of the regular 16x19 and ratcheted them up a notch. The 21/23/21 mm beam provided solid power without ever feeling too overpowered. The 12 oz strung weight put more mass behind my shots and gave me a heavy, penetrating ball off either wing. It was incredibly rewarding to crush backhands down the line with this frame. The increased mass and beefy swingweight did require some adjustment and I was lagging behind the ball a bit early on until I made the proper adjustments to my timing. The relatively thin beam width allowed for precision targeting from the baseline. I had no trouble lining up aggressive targets and hitting them with consistency. Spin production was more than adequate from the 16 x 19 pattern and I was appreciative that Babolat moved the Tour away from an 18 x 20. At times when I was getting tired, I think an 18 x 20 would have resulted in more balls in the net because of the launch angle. The 16 x 19 gave me some cushion to still get the ball over even if my swing speed slowed. Stability on the frame was outstanding. It was rock solid when dealing with big hitters and was able to consistently send balls back with interest. I never felt overmatched in rallies and appreciated the frame’s ability to avoid twisting or fluttering when I needed it to soak up pace.
Volleys & Serves
The Pure Strike Tour was a finisher at the net. It’s mass and power level made quick work of anything I got a good look at when I came forward. Even just a simple block volley was offensive because the frame’s mass just drove the ball through the court. Control was also very solid, and I had no issue placing volleys wherever I needed to, whether ending the point or setting myself up for an easy next ball. The frame’s outstanding stability also paid off at the net. I was able to consistently deflect high pace balls and extend points. At times I did miss having something a bit lighter overall, but the Tour was the most headlight of the Strike family, so it still played with a healthy dose of maneuverability. The slightly softer feel on contact also made it a bit easier to execute touch volleys but I’d love to see the Tour get a bit more flex for that extra bit of ball pocketing and finesse.
Serving with the Pure Strike Tour was like deploying field artillery. The increased mass allowed me to hit serious first serves with pace and a heavy feel that pushed returners back. The key was for me to relax and let the racquet do the talking when swinging. The weight and swingweight did catch up to me in long matches and I lost a bit of speed over time but that’s more a product of fitness and being used to the weight than any fault of the racquet itself. The excellent control of the frame was present on serve as well. I was able to guide the ball to the corners and serve with confidence under pressure. My kick serve didn’t have quite as much movement but again, it was likely my lack of necessary racquet head speed. I had a lot of fun with my slice serve. I was able to paint the T on the deuce side and go way wide in the ad court. I even started using it as a first serve tactic because of how effective it was at opening the court and giving control from the first ball.
Many racquets that are new for 2019 have had their improvements centered on feel and the Pure Strike Tour was no exception. I felt prior versions of the frame were fairly harsh and unforgiving outside the sweet spot. The addition of C2 Pure Feel in the hoop alleviated much of that complaint. The new Tour played with clean feel on contact and minimal vibration, even on off center shots. It still had a modern, crisp feel but with a shiny layer of dampening spread on top now. I appreciated the uniform response across the string bed as it made it easy to predict how the ball would react off the strings. The racquet was more comfortable for me than prior iterations. I had some arm fatigue, but that was more tied to the swingweight of the frame. It’s still a firmly built frame so sensitive players could pair it with lower tension or softer string to maximize the comfort.
Having been skipped over in the Project 17 version of the Strikes, fans of heavier frames can rejoice in the return of the Pure Strike Tour. It boasts point ending power and control, precise maneuverability at net and the artillery to make quick work of service games. With improved comfort and feel, it makes a great all court weapon for advanced players. The new Pure Strike Tour is an outstanding option for those who want the mass to dictate and the responsiveness to play from anywhere on court.
About the Reviewer: 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.