Construction: Co-Polyester Monofilament
Colors: Electric Brown
Gauge: 16G (1.30 mm), 17G (1.25 mm)
Length: 40 feet (12.2 M) or 660 feet (200 M)
Test Racquet / Tension
Wilson Blade 16 x 19 v7/16G (1.30 mm) @ 50 lbs
Built on the back of Rafael Nadal’s powerful game, Babolat’s RPM Blast polyester has become one of the signature strings on the market. For 2020, Babolat is upping the ante by introducing the all new Babolat RPM Power string used on tour by Dominic Thiem. Debuting in an instantly recognizable “Electric Brown” color, this new addition to the RPM family is a round profiled string, with a more flexible construction to maximize power. It also utilizes a unique coating meant to enhance feel as well as deliver a specifically tuned sound on impact with the ball. I recently got to hit the court with Babolat RPM Power to see how it would perform.
The power level of RPM Power was a bit of a puzzle for me. It seemed a bit sensitive overall to the swing path of the stroke I was hitting. When working to hit with a more vertical, topspin stroke, the power level felt a bit low and I had trouble getting the ball deeper into the court. As soon as I flattened my stroke out, the power seemed to amplify, and the ball moved well through the court and my shots had better depth. The seemingly lower launch angle also likely factored into my impression of the string’s power. More shots than usual had trouble clearing the net, making it seem the string was lacking for power, when it was the very low launch angle giving me trouble. Spin was average for a round polyester but not to the level of a shaped string or the original RPM Blast. Spin was also reduced as the coating on the string wore off and the string bed locked up a bit more. Control was above average compared to other round polys I’ve tested recently. I was able to leverage the flex of the string to establish solid connection to the ball. This helped me judge targeting and pick spots to hit to aggressively. The lower amount of spin to my usual setup did give me some challenges with depth control and bringing the ball down on flatter shots, but it wasn’t anything that proved to be deal breaking.
Feel with Babolat RPM Power was above average for a polyester offering. The string had a nice degree of flex on impact, giving it a cushioned yet connected feel. I felt it had a good amount of ball pocketing without veering into being too vague or mushy feeling. While not being “feel related”, the string did produce a distinct, loud impact sound. Babolat has spoken about the coating of the string and its design being specifically tuned to produce a “crisp” sound and they have succeeded in that regard. The sound it makes when you make contact is nothing short of a smile inducing BOOM. The string played comfortably with minimal shock off center and no significant buzzing, even as the string wore down. Players looking for an RPM variation that plays comfortably without the springy feel of RPM Rough should be confident using RPM Power at a variety of tensions without comfort issues.
Durability was a bit of a mixed bag in my experience with RPM Power. The string’s coating was not very durable at all. In fact, I was surprised because it immediately started marking up the balls during play, like I had stenciled the string bed. Within a couple hours of hitting, the coating was almost completely worn off in the center of the pattern, reducing the string’s sliding ability and lowering spin production even more. Despite the coating wearing off, the string held up well to notching overall and I was able to get into double digit court hours until eventually breaking it. From a playability perspective, the string never had any sort of wild drop-off in performance over time. As the coating wore off, it did start to remind me of playing with a synthetic gut string in terms of its feel and performance characteristics. Over time I had to find ways to adjust for the lower level of spin and the reduced launch angle, but I was able to maintain consistent play and appreciated the string’s ability to maintain a clean cushioned feel until it broke.
Babolat brings a new power-oriented string to the game with the introduction of RPM Power. Its power level will benefit flat hitters or those with very high racquet head speeds. The string offers cushioned feel, solid accuracy and the power to finish points. The unique Electric Brown finish is sure to stand out on court and players who want a responsive, smooth feeling polyester string should find plenty to enjoy with Babolat RPM Power.
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.