Head Graphene 360 Extreme Pro Specs
|Head Size:||100 in² / 645 cm²|
|Length:||27in / 68,5cm|
|Strung Weight:||329g / 11,6oz|
|Balance:||32,49cm / 3 pts HL|
|Unstrung Balance:||31,5cm/1 pts HL|
|String Pattern:||16 Mains / 19 Crosses|
A playtest of one of my favorite players’ racket! The Head Graphene 360 Extreme Pro is the stick of choice of legendary Frenchman Richard Gasquet (at least he reps it), owner of the most picture-perfect backhand on tour.
Weighing in at 310g and with a big swingweight of 331, this racket’s specs are right in my comfort zone, and I was extremely excited to give it a playtest. Previous versions of this racket have been known to be very spin friendly, which is not normally what I look for, but I can make an exception when I’m busy imitating Gasquet’s backhand.
The Extreme Pro returns to Head’s line up with the company’s signature Graphene 360, which strengthens the frame at strategic points, to add stability. It also has 360 Spin Grommets giving you greater string movement, resulting in, you guessed it, extra spin!
I used the Extreme series back in the day, entering my freshman year of college as a proud member of the yellow and black stick club. I never really loved the look of the racket, and Head have done nothing to change that by making it an even more vivid yellow color.
Looks notwithstanding, I was a big fan of my Extreme. It gave me good power and spin and was extremely manoeuvrable. I used to string it up super tight with some Big Banger Original, so the feel was quite deadened, and I could control all that spin potential.
These days, I play with the Babolat Pure Strike which has some similar characteristics to this racket. The main difference between the two is the string pattern, the Extreme Pro has an open 16 x 19 string pattern while my Pure Strike is a closed 18 x 20.
This makes a big difference and gives the Extreme Pro a ton more spin potential. I found the extra spin a little bit difficult to control at first, as I have become accustomed to having to work quite hard to get my spin.
Eventually though, I settled down with the Extreme Pro and began to enjoy the ease with which I could sit back and let the racket do some work for me. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve still got to keep your racket head speed up, but that’s not difficult to do with this speedy racket.
While I did start to hit a slightly different type of shot with the Extreme Pro, it was still an incredibly heavy ball. I was getting a little less power than I do with my Pure Strike, but the added spin made the ball kick up viciously, and I was able to use this as a big weapon, getting balls to bounce high up to my opponent’s backhand.
Style wise, this racket is definitely suited to an aggressive baseliner. The specifications of the racket make it easy to create good racket head speed and the big swingweight keeps you swinging all the way through the ball.
Like most pro style rackets, if you drop the racket head speed, you will be punished, but that shouldn’t be a big issue for more advanced players.
Once we’d got a little warmup out the way I set about testing the Head Graphene 360 Extreme Pro to see exactly what it could offer us.
Groundstrokes – 8.5/10
The baseline is the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro’s bread and butter, and it does a wonderful job on the groundstrokes. The speed and spin of this racket are potent and I’d love to be playing with it on clay. It gives you the kind of access to spin that makes playing on a clay court highly enjoyable.
I felt I had a great amount of control with the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro and was really able to work my points how I wanted them. The large amount of spin I was generating opened up some big angles in the court, allowing me to step in to finish the point off with the down the line winner.
Off the backhand side, I felt I benefited greatly from the stability that the 330 swingweight offers. Sometimes I can struggle to generate power on this side, but the Extreme Pro did a good job of negating this weakness.
On the forehand side the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro does come close to being a bit too spin oriented for me. I was getting so much easy spin that it became a little bit difficult to flatten the ball out. I naturally get a great flight path on the forehand side, but it’s flattening the ball out that I find harder to do. That’s one of the big advantages I find with my 18 x 20 Pure Strike, it makes life much easier when I’m stepping into the court and trying to flatten out the ball.
I didn’t feel I lost too much control with the Extreme Pro despite the amount of spin I got. I probably sacrificed a few mph, but the added spin made up for this. All in all, I was hitting some excellent shots with this racket.
The positives of this racket were mainly the easy spin it offers and the ease with which you can play high level tennis. With the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro you can almost sit back a bit and let the racket take some of the strain.
Negatives wise, the only thing I found from the back of the court was that it was a little bit hard to hit a flat ball. This is something I regularly suffer with, but the 16 x 19 string pattern did make this a little bit more difficult.
I have given the Head Graphene 360 Extreme Pro an 8.5 out of 10 from the back of the court. I loved the older version of this racket when I had it and I still really enjoyed this newest version.
Volleys – 8/10
Having said that the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro is very much an aggressive baseliner’s racket, it’s not bad at the net at all. The 330 swingweight makes it extremely solid when the ball’s coming quickly at you and this is the most important thing I look for when I’m at the net.
The Graphene 360 Extreme Pro is also extremely manoeuvrable, so it’s nice and easy to get into position quickly. This comes in handy when you’re playing doubles and face a quick exchange at the net. I didn’t play any doubles with the Extreme Pro, but I did have Lawrence smashing balls at me at the net and the Extreme held up well.
If anything, I would like just a little bit more control from the Extreme Pro at the net, but I’m sure that could be fixed with the right set up. As I said, I used to string my Extreme pretty tightly, with a control-oriented string. If I was to start using this racket, I would continue to do the same as it just adds a little bit more control and touch to this racket.
I’ve given the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro an 8 out of 10 at the net. It’s still a baseliner’s racket in my opinion, but it does well at the net, nonetheless.
Serve – 8/10
This is the kind of setup that I really enjoy on the serve. A lowish actual weight, but plenty of swingweight and some good manoeuvrability. This helps to get the racket travelling with lots of speed and ensures all the energy you build up goes straight through the ball.
The Graphene 360 Extreme Pro continues to give a ton of spin potential on the serve (think Gasquet’s kick serve), but it is also very powerful when you’re looking to flatten out and hit a big serve down the T. You’ve got to keep ripping through the ball with this racket, but when you do, you get good results.
I found the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro particularly helpful on the second serve where I was able to generate good spin, adding control and precision to my serve. I played a rare set with the Extreme Pro without a double fault, something I virtually never do!
The Head Graphene 360 Extreme Pro’s good performance on the serve gets it another 8 out of 10 from me. There was nothing negative to stay about the Extreme when starting out the point.
An all-round, very good racket from Head. This racket can do a little bit of everything, but ideally, I think it is best suited to an aggressive baseliner. The Graphene 360 Extreme Pro gives you excellent racket head speed and huge amounts of spin for a pro style racket.
For me personally, I really enjoyed the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro playtest, the only downside being that I found it a little bit hard to hit a flatter ball. I would probably look to fix this by stringing this racket a bit tighter with a control-oriented string.
I think with that small fix, this racket would be a good fit for me and is certainly worth a try for any aggressive baseliner with some fairly advanced swings. While some rackets can make being an aggressive baseliner seem like hard work, the Head Graphene 360 Extreme Pro is comfortable and makes your life easy.
Overall, I gave the Head Graphene 360 Extreme Pro an 8 out of 10. I think it has the potential to appeal to a wider variety of players and it does everything well. It’s comfortable and easy to play with, which is always a bonus and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to players of all ages.
Review by: Will