Color: Black, Florescent Red, Yellow
Gauge: 1.35mm, 1.30mm, 1.25mm
Length: 40 feet
Test Racquet / Tension
Tecnifibre TFight 315 LTD 16M @ 52lbs
Babolat has enjoyed immense success with its RPM Blast string over the years. Rather than resting on their laurels, Babolat has chosen to continue innovating with the introduction of the new RPM Blast Rough polyester string. This string utilizes the same geometric design and cross-linked silicone coating but adds in a rough texture pattern for even more grip. Under a microscope, the texture pattern is actually the Babolat logo etched into the string surface! Babolat has also softened the string composition for increased comfort. I had to hit the court with this promising new entry into the RPM family to see how it would measure up.
RPM Rough was on the high side of the power spectrum for polyester string. I found it to be quite lively off the ground with no shortage of easy power. At times there was a little too much power and I sailed a few more balls in the early going until I found my range with the string. The impressive power level made controlling the ball a bit of an issue for me. I was a bit tentative to swing out on shots due to the slightly erratic nature of the string. I tended to pick safer targets until I could find a larger opening in the court to exploit. I felt the spin that this string produced was different than the standard RPM Blast. Whereas that string created massive topspin, I felt the Rough performed better on slices. My general experience with textured strings was that they grip the ball differently than shaped strings and that feeling held true here. I felt it lacked a bit of topspin compared to its original brother but I really enjoyed the bite it put on my backhand slice. The ball stayed extremely low and skidded off the court. I was able to find a decent dose of topspin on my backhand side which helped me defend that wing well when stretched out. My forehand was a little more erratic from a spin perspective and I wasn’t able to bring the ball down as much as I was hoping.
Feel / Comfort
There was a much softer feel with RPM Rough than many other polys and even some of the other options in the RPM family. The texture pattern seemed to give the string a bit more natural flex, improving ball pocketing and feel on contact. It felt soft enough that I could have gone up in tension improve control and likely would have still enjoyed the feel. After a few hours the feel became more springy and impacted control, a fairly common issue with soft polyesters. This string definitely fit into the more comfortable polyester options that have been hitting the market recently. It absorbed more shock on off center shots than firmer polys, allowing it to be more arm friendly. Players with sensitive arms should be able to use this strings, especially in thinner gauges or at reduced tensions.
There was a fairly significant divide between durability and playability during my time with RPM Rough. My test string was 16 gauge and it felt quite thick compared to other 16g strings of similar construction. I found it impressively resistant to notching, despite the high string to string friction the rough texture seemed to create. The level of playability however did not match up quite as well. As has been my experience with other RPM strings, Rough felt its best over about the first 2 hours of play. After that there was a noticeable drop in tension. This rapid tension loss exacerbated the control problems with the string and left the string bed feeling too springy and mushy for my liking. Players with high racquet head speed and developed strokes would likely be cutting this string out well before it breaks due to the relatively poor tension maintenance and playability.
Babolat expands the RPM string family with the introduction of this textured version. It provides high power for a polyester and excellent grab on slices. While advanced players may find it lacking in control and tension maintenance, its comfort and easy power should appeal to juniors and developing players. Babolat RPM Rough brings the kind of big power, soft feel and impressive durability that players who don’t break a lot of string or those with sensitive arms should be looking for in a polyester string choice.
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.