Graphene 360 has been integrated into the Speed, Instinct, and Extreme racquet families, and now the technology comes to the Radicals. On Tour, the likes of Andy Murray, Andre Agassi, Sloane Stephens, and Danielle Collins play with the HEAD Radical series. Graphene 360 is material embedded above the handle and throughout the head to improve stability, ball speed, and energy return. I took the new Graphene 360 Radical Pro to the courts to see how it stacked up to its famous lineage.
The previous Radical Pro was a beast to maneuver around the court. The swing weight was pretty high for a racquet only around 11.5 ounces. While most of the specs remain similar to the Graphene Touch version, HEAD reduced the swing weight several points and I think it’s a good call. It makes the Radical Pro a more mobile racquet, but it doesn’t lose much if any stability. The Radical Pro felt noticeably quicker to the ball and it was easy to get racquet head speed even when out of position. Graphene 360 doesn’t quite recreate the tremendous flex of older models like the Microgel, but it makes the Radical Pro more comfortable than most racquets in its weight class. One of the highlights of the frame, and for the Radical series in general, is the versatility of game styles it compliments. It’s easy to step in and take the ball early while hitting a flatter ball, but you can change your mind quickly and play heavier topspin shots just as easily. I struggled with the previous version on my forehand side, but with the Graphene 360 Radical Pro, it was my favorite shot of the playtest.
Volleys & Serves
HEAD’s marketing for the Radical series touts their appreciation for the creative shot maker in the racquets design. Perhaps the most creative and unique shots are played on the doubles court. I foresee the Radical Pro being hugely popular for seasoned competitive doubles players. With the improved mobility, I was able to get the racquet head out front for my first volley after the serve, and handle more difficult low volleys when my opponents tagged a return at my shoelaces. I found the level of feel and control to be outstanding on shots that are so difficult to practice like half volleys, or high backhand overhead smashes. HEAD gives players that are looking for more weight and stability the option of a “Pro Player Cap” grommet which will make the Radical Pro unbelievably stable, but more difficult to play unless your strength and technique are sublime.
Serving with the Radical Pro was enjoyable, and comfortable on the shoulder joint. The reduced swing weight helps a bunch when trying to hit a heavy kick first serve. It’s easy to get more racquet head speed, but folks that loved serving the flat bomb first serves might miss the plow-through effect of the Graphene Touch Radical Pro. The Graphene 360 Radical Pro is more adaptable than the previous model in terms of hitting different types of serves, and I think previous users of the Radical MP could serve fantastic with new Pro. I noticed HEAD has gone to the more square shaped grip, used in the Speed and Instinct racquets, in contrast to the flatter pallets that were prevalent on the Prestige and Radical series. This is a welcome change for me, though I expect some long time Radical users will wonder “Why?”
Feel & Comfort
HEAD has a great thing going with Graphene 360 technology. For a few generations, the Graphene racquets got a little to firm for me, and lost the iconic feel that made HEAD such a prominent racquet brand. Things improved slightly with the Graphene Touch, but they have hit their stride with Graphene 360. The material makes this Radical Pro the most comfortable version in years. They found a way to increase comfort, without losing the stable and powerful feeling the modern game demands. If you have been clamoring for a kinder, gentler Radical Pro, the Graphene 360 Radical Pro is it.
The marketing from HEAD states “No shot you can’t play,” and while I always seem to try and hit shots I shouldn’t, it’s a blast to try them with the Radical Pro. I could see the Graphene 360 version enticing players who used the previous Radical MP because this Pro is more maneuverable. Though the Pro is about a half ounce heavier than the MP, it is just as easy to swing. The look of the new Radical Pro is much less “radical” than in years past, but the cosmetic is modern, refined, and easy on the eyes.
The new Graphene 360 Radical Pro is a must demo for any current Radical user, or any player looking for a well-rounded racquet with plenty of comfort, stability, and power. Add the familiar square grip shape, with a lighter swing weight, and HEAD has a winner this summer.
About the Reviewer: Sam Jones currently works at Tennis Express on the Content Marketing team. He previously played at Southwestern University, taught tennis for 10+ years and earned his USRSA Master Racquet Technician Certification in 2011. He is an active NTRP 5.0 League and Tournament player.