Earlier in 2019 we saw Wilson come out with a new revolution of racquets called the Clash 100 and 100 Tour. The initial concept came from the idea that all racquets are either more suited toward control or power, but not both. After a successful launch with the first two frames of the Clash family, Wilson decided to add to the line so more people can reap the benefits. The Clash 98 takes the framework of the 100 Tour to another level by gearing it towards advanced players needing a control racquet with more power and flexibility. Being a longtime Wilson user, I was curious to see what differences the Clash 98 would bring to the market.
Unlike the Clash 100 tour, I felt I got into the zone much quicker on groundstrokes. Because this racquet has a slightly smaller headsize, I felt it was easier for me to control the ball and stay locked into the sweetspot. FreeFlex technology is still very apparent giving it a nice feel when I was hitting forehands and backhands. The increased feel translated well to my slices and dropshots from the baseline. I felt the ball stayed on my strings a little longer allowing me to get great command of my slices. Although it has a slightly thinner beam (24 mm vs. 24.5 mm), I didn’t feel like it was any more flexible than the 100 or 100 Tour models. Similar to other racquets in the line, power and spin can be generated relatively easy so players won’t need to struggle much to get the ball deep into the court. However, I felt I needed to swing consistently fast and with spin to keep the ball from going long. Whenever I slowed down my swing too much or tried to flick my wrist, the ball would take off rapidly and not go where I wanted it to.
FreeFlex is a great technology that’s tactile and immediately noticeable up at the net. Similar to other Clash racquets, the 98 gave me plenty of feeling for the ball allowing me to direct my volleys everywhere on the court. What made this racquet even better at net was the stability. Thanks to the stability it was easy to defend against hard hit balls and not worry about the racquet head twisting. Whenever I needed to put the volley away, the added weight and power made it effortless to do so. Although the weight felt slightly heavier, I didn’t feel like I could get into trouble because the racquet maintained excellent mobility. Doubles specialists will truly like this frame at net for its quickness, stability, feel and power.
Serves & Overheads
I enjoyed hitting overheads and serves, though it did take some time to figure out how big to swing as the 98 is quite explosive. I never felt like I could get true command of the ball when I wanted to hit flat. Thanks to the weight of the racquet though, I could keep my slice serves low and going away from my opponent while kick serves seemed to jump a little more than normal. Players that want more explosive flat serves, try the Clash 98 with natural gut or a high end multifilament.
Wilson is stepping up their racquet game and I think the Clash family leads us into a new trend for racquets moving forward. The Clash 98 really bridges that gap between control frames and power frames without sacrificing one attribute for the other. The slightly smaller headsize and more flexible feel gives advanced players the option of something still control oriented, while the added power and spin adapts it to the modern game.
Note: Playtest racquet was strung with LXN Element 1.25mm at 52 lbs.
About the Reviewer: Chris Virk-Brown currently works at Tennis Express on the Content Marketing team. He previously played at Neumann University and coached at the collegiate level for 3 years. He is an active USTA League and Tournament player.