RPM Blast Rough is the textured version of RPM Blast – one of the most popular co-polyester strings of all time. This more aggressively shaped string claims greater spin than RPM Blast and enhanced feel due to the thinner string diameter.
RPM Blast Rough is available in both yellow and red and will appeal to a range of tennis players from club level to professional.
I can tell you there was a lot of hype behind this playtest. TheTennisBros.com have been big fans of the regular RPM Blast string for a long time, so we were fascinated to see how Babolat’s RPM Blast Rough compared!
Tom took this playtest and strung RPM Blast Rough in his trusty Wilson Pro Staff at 57lbs. For those of you who enjoy a little more precise detail, the playtest was completed over 2 hours with Head ATP Balls in indoor courts.
Control – 7/10
RPM Blast is a very control orientated string. Its octagonal co-polyester structure and silicone coating lends itself to a dead response off the string bed and a huge number of RPMs; keeping the ball inside the court.
RPM Blast Rough also delivered nicely on that front. I could really feel the strings ripping the back of the ball and enjoyed feeling the ball pocket slightly and then shoot off with massive, biting topspin that kicked like a badass!
However, with power doesn’t come control. RPM Blast Rough is definitely a more powerful string than regular RPM Blast due to its thinner gauge caused by the aggressively shaped string profile. I also found that the trajectory of my shots was slightly more unpredictable. Sometimes the string would grab the ball a certain amount and other times it would be different. This wasn’t so much of an issue at the start of the playtest, but after the first hour when the tension had started to drop a little, I lost a little consistency. Obviously for a professional player, this is no issue whatsoever as they can afford to change their racket every 7 games. For us, mere mortals, however, that might be something you need to consider if you choose RPM Blast Rough over RPM Blast.
This has also been the case with other shaped strings against their smoother counterparts that I’ve tested. So, I did string my racket a little higher in tension to compensate for this slight loss of control and I’m glad that I did.
If we are speaking purely from a control aspect, I preferred the more controlled response from RPM Blast. RPM Blast Rough is quite lively and unless I strung it really high, I generally doesn’t have the level of control that I’d be looking for in a poly. However, if you tried RPM Blast 16 or 17 gauge and were left craving a bit more power, then this string could be the answer.
For control I rated RPM Blast Rough at 7/10. It still offers very good control and is an exceptional polyester string. Personally, I just preferred the abundance of control in the original version of the string.
Power – 6/10
As far as polyester strings go, RPM Blast Rough offers great pop. If you are looking for a softer feeling polyester string that is reasonably explosive, then you must give this one a try!
Also, for new players looking to move into the realm of polyester strings, RPM Blast Rough is an excellent option. Of course, there will be big hitters like Dominic Thiem who will use this string, but I think this would also make the perfect first polyester string for an intermediate level player. It offers good power, but not so much that it compromises good stroke mechanics in order to keep the ball in play. To the contrary, RPM Blast Rough would encourage players to make full swings and hit through the ball rather than “pushing” it with bad technique.
Your power expectations from a string should always be backed up by a thorough understanding of your own game. How much extra power you need from your racket will determine whether RPM Blast or RPM Blast Rough is the better option. For the advanced level baseline grinder, I would say RPM Blast and for the club level version of Dominic Thiem or Novak Djokovic, then RPM Blast Rough. Obviously these two categories cross over and there are always exceptions, but these would be my general guidelines.
Touch – 5/10
There’s probably never going to be a poly that achieves 9/10. (Well, not in the next 50 years!) I’ve said it many times before, but if touch and feel is your thing then don’t look at a polyester string – look at a multifilament/ synthetic gut, or if you can afford it, natural gut.
However, RPM Blast has a reasonable level of touch and a superb amount for a poly. The extreme shaped profile of the string thins the string out so this results in greater sensitivity to touch.
If you are a serve and volleyer and can’t play without a polyester string, then RPM Blast Rough might be a better option for you than RPM Blast. Also, doubles players using a more power orientated racket like the Babolat Pure Aero Tour might want to try this string. It looks great in matching yellow too!
If you were expecting a little more info in this section of the review, we apologise, but the purpose of a polyester string really isn’t buttery levels of feel.
Spin – 9/10
RPM Blast Rough delivers THE TRUE HEAVY BALL. The spin it generates really is unbelievable. We thought it would be almost impossible to top the level of spin we discovered in RPM Blast, but I think RPM Blast Rough just eclipses it.
Some of you reading are probably thinking, why hasn’t he given a 10! I just don’t really give out 10s as I’m confident there will be even better products available in the future! RPM Blast Rough was close to 10 though on the spin front! At one point, I felt I had to check the tennis balls. I was ripping the felt so hard, I was expecting to see the rubber under the ball. Okay, maybe I am over-exaggerating there! Still, results speak volumes and I could clearly see my opponent’s frustration as they continuously mistimed their shots as my heavy forehand kicked into them.
Another way I like to measure spin is by carefully observing my kick and slice serves. We were playing on indoor courts for this playtest and that really allowed me to test out my slice in particular; the surface perfectly complimenting this type of serve.
It’s a truly wonderful feeling when your wide slice serve on the deuce side (for me as a right hander) is going in! Thankfully, today that shot was on and I really got to tap into some of the string’s capabilities on serve.
My slice serves really fizzed; carving their way through the court and out into the side netting, often going for aces. I often think of Roger Federer with this serve and how well he hits it. I’ll never be anywhere near as good as him at it, but I always try and create something of what I imagine him doing. RPM Blast Rough helped me to find this; giving me access to the aggressive sidespin needed to pull my opponent WAY off the court.
On my flat serve, I was in love with the crack sound off the string bed and bulleted plenty of aces past my opponent! Recently I’ve been chatting with Will and Lawrence about experimenting with the Babolat Pure Strike customised with additional lead tape in the head. On the flat serve, I could clearly see how this string could give deliver some tremendous fire power in that particular setup!
Comfort – 6/10
If there was only one polyester string that we could recommend to polyester lovers with arm problems, RPM Blast Rough would be it! I was impressed with its ball pocketing and softness and therefore have no hesitation in recommending to players requiring a string with a little more give.
I find it quite interesting just how different a rounder string and the same string with greater shaped edges can feel. It can completely change the feel and playability of the string! Those who have experienced this scenario will be quietly smiling in concurrence, but those of you who haven’t, you really must try both kinds and feel it for yourself!
In the case of RPM Blast Rough, suddenly the string Rafa uses is now accessible and beneficial to all kinds of players without causing injury or too much of a power loss!
Durability – 6/10
As much as I’d like them to be, extreme-shaped polyester strings just aren’t particularly durable. I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail why, but the sharp edges bite into each other as the main strings snap back against the crosses during ball contact.
For a hard-hitting player using a head heavy racket, RPM Blast Rough probably wouldn’t last more than a few hours. However, I’d say this same type of player would probably opt for RPM Blast instead. For the club level player, however, durability would not be so much of an issue. If you are not doing already, (and this applies to any type of string) we would advise you to restring every couple of weeks to every month if you want your string bed to maintain good playability.
Personally, I felt the durability aspect of RPM Blast Rough was middle of the road for a polyester string. I noticed a little bit of tension loss during the playtest and then a further drop off throughout the week until the strings broke. Unfortunately, I started to feel the inevitable “trampoline effect” as the strings lost tension. Sometimes this is okay(ish) if the string is very dead to begin with. But, in this case, my shots became erratic as RPM offers some decent power for a poly.
Overall Playability – 8/10
Although RPM Blast Rough wasn’t my perfect match, I really enjoyed playing with it and would happily play with it again. It offers a superb combination of spin and power and with the right person swinging it, delivers a lethal, heavy ball.
This new inclusion to the Babolat string collection comes as a welcome addition to an already formidable list of equipment and will appeal to a range of tennis abilities worldwide. On the pro tour, big swinging, Dominic Thiem uses RPM Blast Rough as part of his hybrid setup in his Babolat Pure Strike. However, the string could just as easily be used by a medium level club player looking to get a little bit more spin from their racket.
Whatever opinion you form from my review, you really must try some of the Babolat polyester strings and see what they could do for your game. I should also point out that we are not paid by Babolat to say that! As is evident from our extensive list of resources on this website, we always form our own ideas and present them to you in the most unbiased way possible!
Get out there and rip a ball with RPM Blast Rough, guys. You’ll be glad you did!
Review by: Tom