HEAD Graphene Speed Pro Tennis Racquet Review
For 2013, Head has chosen to make some changes to world number one Novak Djokovic’ Speed Pro frame that should increase power and maneuverability. It’s a risk to change a popular model, but Head’s new Graphene technology promises to make it worthwhile.
A strung 27 inch Graphene Speed Pro weighs in at a rather svelte (by player’s racquet standards) 321 grams (11 1/3 oz.), and balances out at 330mm (13”), or 4 points head light, making for a strong swingweight of 329 (Graphene design at work: moving weight into the head and the handle to maintain balance and stability). Its 100 square inch head looks larger than it is, and should inspire confidence from the back court. The beams measure out at 22.5mm at the tip and center of the head, and 22mm at the shoulders and handle, a little wider at the top than last year’s model (the original YouTek Speed Pro had a 19mm beam). The flex is a solid 66. A dense 18x20 string pattern tops off the control orientation of the Speed Pro line.
“Solid” is the best word to describe the Graphene Speed Pro’s baseline play. It swings easily, and the head weight plows right through the ball off both sides. Since the string bed is dense, there’s not as much spin as you’d get from, say, the Speed MP, but it grabs the ball well enough if you swing with some speed. The flex imparts a controlled feel to every shot, but particularly the harder-hit ones, and you should see very few “flyaway” shots with this racquet. The extra width to the beam at the top helped keep the Speed Pro from “flopping” around on mishits high on the face, and will allow pretty good control on shots where the player is extended.
Net Play and Serving
The head weighting of the Speed Pro should have slowed it down on serves, but the opposite was true: once the racquet started its path up to the ball, it came alive. The racquet almost released itself into the ball, and propelled it off with excellent speed. The string bed is less dense at the top (where you hit serves) than in the center, so spin serves worked quite well. Overheads, while not as easy to execute as serves, still came off with excellent power and placement.
At net, the Speed Pro’s weighting worked against it a little bit, as it was not the fastest to get into position during quick volley exchanges but, when you have time, it will provide excellent control and feel. Swinging volleys are a thing to behold, with excellent power and placement.
The Speed Pro’s bumper guard has an adequate depth to the string groove. While not as deep as some other offerings in this segment, it should protect the strings quite nicely from damage on repeated low volleys. The grip is Head’s Hydrosorb Pro, and the butt cap is traditional Head fare, with a wide base and excellent flare. It will stay securely in your hands without a lot of grip pressure.
The Head Graphene Speed Pro may have been designed for Novak Djokovic, but a lot of strong baseline and all-court players can use it well. A solid but forgiving flex combines with excellent weighting and an optimal head size to allow for strong play from the baseline, and also provides surprising flexibility on serves and surprisingly good net play. The Graphene Speed Pro is a noticeable improvement over its predecessor, and deserves the attention of any advanced player.