Color: Silver Grey
Gauge: 16L (1.25mm)
Length: 40 ft or 726 feet (reel)
Test Racquet / Tension
Tecnifibre TFight 315 LTD 16M @ 55lbs
For a string manufacturer, Luxilon is a brand that doesn’t suffer from any shortage of exposure. Widely used on the pro tour, Luxilon has become synonymous with performance polyester string. Alu Power Rough has been the polyester of choice in hybrids used by Federer, Djokovic and Murray over the years. Building off the controlled, durable response of Alu Power, the Rough version adds a textured finish to the string for maximum spin and bite on the ball. I took to the court recently to get a firsthand look at how one of the most popular strings on the planet performs.
Like many other offerings from Luxilon, players will largely need to bring their own power with Alu Rough. I found it to have a low powered response off the ground. This enabled me to take big cuts at the ball with confidence the ball was going to land in. I felt like I could swing away from anywhere on court and transition from defense to offense with one swing of my racquet. The level of spin the string produced also gave me a lot of confidence. I had no problem amping up the topspin on my groundstrokes, making it a challenge for my opponents. If anything, I felt there was a little too much grip at times as some shots seemed to over-rotate and land shorter than I was intending. The impressive grip on the ball also made my backhand slice incredibly tough to deal with. The strings let me carve through the ball and kept everything low and skidding away from opponents. Control was excellent at the outset for Alu Rough. The first couple times out, I felt like I could not miss and was aggressive when it came to targeting the lines and corners. A few hours into the string though and it seemed like the magic kind of died out. It didn’t become springy like a lot of newer polyester strings do. The string just felt lacking in response and was a bit tougher to control. I was still able to play with it until I broke it, but I longed for the incredible precision and spin I got when the set was fresh.
Feel / Comfort
Like many of the offers in the Alu Range, Rough has a firm feel overall. I definitely would not recommend this string for a beginner or someone with a sensitive arm. I found it to be crisp yet comfortable in the sweet spot but the response off center felt a little harsher. The firmer feel also required an adjustment for volleying. There wasn’t a tremendous amount of feel on contact at the net so it took me a bit of time to find my range during volley exchanges. Eventually I found my rhythm and was able to use the grip the string had to create angles and hard cutting drop shots. The comfort level of this string really comes down to the individual player. I felt it was quite firm but I never experienced any discomfort that made me want to stop playing it. Players could also consider dropping their tension more than the 10% Luxilon recommends to try and gain some additional comfort. The string is low powered enough that it should be playable at lower tension without having too much of a trampoline effect.
I found Alu Rough to be impressively durable. I tested the 16L gauge and was able to get into double digit hours before I broke it, which is usually a good indicator of durability for me. The string had some notching within a couple hours and was heavily notched by about 8 hours of use. String breakers should be able to get a solid amount of longevity out of the string and durability would likely be higher in an 18x20 pattern frame as well. The bigger issue was with the playability of the string. I’ve always felt that Luxilon is so popular because of the way it plays in the first couple of hours. It just felt like I could rip the cover off the ball and put it anywhere I wanted to. But after a couple hours, the string took a huge drop in tension and the playability just was not what it was. I couldn’t paint the lines as much and the string just had a deader, firmer feeling response to it. One option I didn’t use that could potentially help minimize the drop in playability was to pre-stretch the string. A pre-stretch may be useful at reducing the tension drop and extending the lifespan of the string. Anyone looking to maximize and extend the playability of Alu Rough might consider doing this when the string it up.
Luxilon will always have a tremendous market presence thanks to its usage on the pro tours. Alu Rough builds on the successful formula of control and durability but adds an impressive level of spin to the mix for advanced players. While its playability duration lends to more frequent re-stringing, it offers a confidence inspiring feel out of the gate and the spin and control will send the confidence of any player through the roof as they crush winners from all areas of the court. This firm, durable poly is an excellent option for players with big strokes looking to dominate opponents.
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.