Babolat RPM Blast is a black, octagonal co-polyester string and is undoubtedly one Babolat’s most legendary products! It’s the string of choice for Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Jo Wilfred Tsonga; Nadal being the poster boy for this one, of course. It was back in 2010 that Rafa rocked up to the Australian Open with this slick looking poly strung up in his luminous Pure Aero. Since then, RPM Blast has taken the world by storm and become one of the best-selling strings of all time. It’s no accident that the great man, Nadal, had a lot to do with this in terms of marketing. But could such an overwhelming number of claims merely be fiction? Can any string really be “that” good? Babolat’s ultimate ploy, perhaps?
With this in mind, we couldn’t wait to playtest RPM Blast and bring you an honest review. When we say honest, we really mean brutally honest, as this is what you deserve!
Here was our RPM Blast Review…
Power – 6/10
For such an overwhelming introductory build-up to Babolat’s RPM Blast, perhaps you were expecting a 10/10 here! However, my 6/10 rating is actually superb for a polyester string. In my (Tom’s) opinion. The role of the hypothetically perfect polyester string is to supply the ideal balancing act between power and control, leaning more heavily towards control. RPM Blast provides exactly the right amount of power for me and is everything I look for in a poly in this aspect. Think of my 6/10 as the string offering 60% of the power of one of the most powerful strings out there.
Before my playtest, I went for a short jog, then began some dynamic stretching and drills that I learned during my track and field days. (We’ll save all that for another article!) I do this routine before most of my practicing then look to start hitting from the half court in the service boxes, before moving to the back of the court. Occasionally I’ll start off with some easy serving, then gradually build the intensity. But today, I had no choice as my hitting partner was an hour late! It wasn’t Will or Lawrence, by the way… before any of you early birds think less of them!
During my serving, I was immediately struck by the unique feel of RPM Blast. There was a pleasing “crack” sound off the string bed, like I would expect from a hard polyester string, yet the string didn’t feel hard for a polyester at all. Most importantly, I was sending the ball over (and into… lol) the net with decent pace and felt well dialled into my targets.
Once my friend arrived and we began our cross-court rallying, I was finding reasonable power on the groundstrokes when playing my usual rally ball. RPM Blast was certainly not forcing power on me (which I hate anyway), yet there was enough zip on the ball for me to feel like I was driving the ball through the court well without using up too much energy. After a few minutes of steady hitting, I decided to inject a bit more swing speed into my forehand and see what happened.
That’s when RPM Blast really set itself apart from most other polys out there. The string responded delightfully and gave me access to the extra power I was attempting to create. This might sound a little far-fetched, but some polyester strings really don’t respond in the same way once you ramp up the swing speed. Luxilon Big Banger Original is a little like that. That would be the ultimate control string in my opinion. It really doesn’t offer you much extra pop in relation to your return on investment when trying to access power. But that’s not a bad thing if all you want is control.
For my game personally, RPM Blast would suit me well. It offers low enough power for you to feel you can stay attacking during points, yet you can access bonus power from the string when you want to “go for it”!
Control – 9/10
Control is something I’m always looking for in my game and Babolat RPM Blast delivered this in spades. There is some research suggesting that on average, black strings tend to offer a slightly deader response to their more colourful cousins like Luxilon Alu Power or Tecnifibre ATP Razor Code. I’ve found this to be true on many occasions and Babolat’s RPM Blast was no different.
I strung RPM Blast in two rackets. The first was my trusty Wilson RF 97 and the second was the Babolat Pure Aero Plus. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this racket, this is the extended length version of Rafa’s racket of choice. I thought the contrasting choice of frames would make for an interesting play testing experience.
In my Wilson racket, it was very easy to play an attacking game style and still keep the ball in the court. In the Babolat racket, I felt a different, yet similar effect. RPM Blast reigned in the tremendous natural power of the Pure Aero Plus racket and sent my balls dipping hard, inside the baseline instead of sailing into the back fence. This result was definitely the string’s qualities, as opposed to choosing a ridiculously, low powered string tension. Both of my rackets were strung at 55lbs, so not a high, control-oriented tension by any means.
RPM Blast was simply a delight on groundstrokes and I really tapped into the joy of rallying with this string. In contrast to the power section, my score of 9/10 is a rating this time, and about as high as tend to go! I haven’t given a 10 yet!
Touch – 5/10
I don’t think I’ve ever found a poly that offered unworldly levels of touch and feel, so I wasn’t surprised that the control-orientated string, RPM Blast didn’t offer this. It did, however, offer reasonable touch for a poly and a wonderfully crisp feel on volleys. Rafael Nadal is also a fantastic doubles player, and has no problem volleying with this string.
RPM Blast would best suit an aggressive baseline grinder, but players who favour net play could also make good use of this string in the crosses of a hybrid setup.
Spin – 9/10
Currently, RPM Blast is my favourite spin string of all time. It really lives up to its name in that regard and delivers an unbelievably heavy ball. I was overjoyed to watch my kick serves accelerate off the court and bounce aggressively over my opponents’ outstretched racket. On the forehand side, I really felt the strings grip the ball, pocket slightly (but not in a trampoline sense) and then shoot off with massive amounts of RPMs. I also felt that on average, a lot more of my groundstrokes found the best side of the baseline due to the enhanced spin production.
As I’m writing this, I’m genuinely trying to create a balanced argument, but I really had no dislikes when it came to the levels of spin RPM Blast achieved. You really must try it and experience the string for yourself! Please shoot our team an email when you discover what all the fuss is about!
Durability – 7/10
All polyester strings are designed for aggressive players and scream durability. It should come as no shock then that RPM Blast was also very good in this aspect. It offered good playability throughout the 2-hour playtest and even decent playability after the playtest! Due to the relatively low powered response the string had anyway, I didn’t experience the trampoline effect that I sometimes do with polys a few days after playtesting. I found the string to offer reasonable playability for a few hits/ days later, right up until it snapped.
I did experience some tension loss with RPM Blast, but like I previously mentioned, I didn’t feel this had a dramatic effect on the overall playability due to the inherent qualities of the string type. Perhaps, this may have been slightly more of an issue if my original tension was, say, 45lbs rather than the 55lbs my stringer strung for me. Overall, I don’t think it’s anything worth worrying about if you are stringing your rackets regularly anyway.
Comfort – 6/10
RPM Blast offers a relatively soft feel for a polyester string. Often, the word “polyester” causes injury themed thoughts to settle uneasily in people’s minds. There’s no need to let that happen with RPM Blast though. For players who prefer a polyester string but struggle with arm issues, this could be your magic cure, so to speak! In this instance, I would suggest trying RPM Blast in 17-gauge, then moving up or down in diameter from there. You could also try lowering the tension if you felt the string was too hard at 17-gauge.
It’s also important to consider the type of racket that you play with when factoring in comfort. During my playtest, I personally found RPM Blast to feel a little more comfortable in the Babolat Pure Aero Plus racket than my Wilson RF 97. I think this is mainly due to the difference in head size of the two rackets. 3 inches in diameter difference might not sound a lot, but I can assure you it is! The Pure Aero’s head size is 100 sq. inches, whereas the Wilson is only 97. Therefore, the Babolat racket offers much more forgiveness, especially for offer centre hits due to the enlarged sweet spot. It also offers easier access to power because of the massive swing weight and ultimately plough through effect the racket achieves.
Overall Summary – 9/10
I wrote our summary from the perspective of someone who enjoys a polyester string already. If that’s not you, I doubt my review will have convinced you to get out your credit card! However, if you are the player who likes to stay on the gas from the baseline, you’re really going to love this string; especially in a full bed (mains and crosses).
It’s not often we hit the 9/10 mark during one of our reviews. I’ll admit, I was a little sceptical the first time I heard about RPM Blast and its seeming hyperbole. Its rare for something to actually deliver the goods on such a great promise! We can only hold our hands up and say great job with this one Babolat! We can also clearly see why Nadal likes it as it really complements his “heavy ball” game.
This may sound unnecessary to some of you, but we should also point out that RPM Blast isn’t the reason Nadal is so good at tennis… unlike how his Uncle Toni tries to claim during a painful Babolat promotional video (we will spare you the footage). However, it does gives him a noticeable edge and allows him to create a little bit more spin than he might with Luxilon Big Banger Original; and a lot more spin than he could ever get with a multifilament string.
Another player, however, might not benefit from the string as much as Nadal does. Since Rafa’s game is geared toward pressing the opponent back with heavy top spin, it only makes sense for him to use equipment that is also geared towards spin production. A player like Radek Stepanek who hits flatter, with less spin would not really benefit from RPM Blast and would be better using a natural gut string (which he does).
Something else to consider is that during our playtest, I used RPM Blast in 16-gauge. I thought it would be best to offer a more neutral experiment for our readers and go middle of the road in string thickness. However, at a later date, I also tried this string in 17-gauge and 18-gauge. These two string diameters offered a surprising amount of extra pop, but I did break them pretty quickly. These would be a great fit for someone who likes the general feel of RPM Blast, but is looking for a more powerful, responsive touch. For the strong player who doesn’t mind restringing after 8 hours of play, or you’re not really a string breaker, then these are worth a thought. I didn’t try 15 gauge, but for you amateur players, I wouldn’t really advise you to go this low unless you’re popping your string bed every hour.
This isn’t solely relevant to RPM Blast, but we would always advise you experiment with your choice of gauge, anyway, as these decisions can make a noticeable difference to your game.
Finally, if you’ve visited our site before, I’m sure you’re well aware that we promote a no-nonsense kind of vibe here. We are real people who take the time to test all the equipment we discuss. We also hate scams as much as you do. However, when something sounds too good to be true turns out to actually be true, we get pretty damn excited! RPM couldn’t hit this scenario more perfectly.
Please do give Babolat RPM Blast a try and let us how you get on with it!
Review by: Tom