It’s pretty much got to that point now where the Babolat Pure Drive should be classified as a modern classic.
This stick is miles away from the classic rackets of the past, but at the same time, it’s become so ubiquitous in modern tennis that it has to be considered something of a classic.
However you classify it, if you’re looking for easy playability and tons of power, then the Babolat Pure Drive is a racket you should look at.
The big question mark has always been around comfort and feel with this racket range though, and with the Babolat Pure Drive 2021, Babolat has sought to address this.
Lots of players have found past Pure Drive’s to be a little too stiff for their liking, which leaves people with a choice – do you go for great power based performance at the risk of discomfort?
Racket technology has moved on a lot though, and Babolat has tried to make the 2021 Pure Drive more forgiving while keeping all the aspects people love about this range.
Would they succeed? Well, we were eager to find out.
To help us get the full picture on what the Babolat Pure Drive 2021 offers, we strung it up with Babolat RPM Blast at 52lbs.
This helped us tame some of that legendary power and gave us the confidence to maximize our strokes.
Question is: how did it go?
Groundstrokes – 8.5/10
If you’ve read our review on the previous version of the Pure Drive, then you’ll know my big sticking point with this racket was the feel.
The way this racket is geared up for power was never going to satisfy the way I like to feel the ball on the strings, and the same is true with the 2021 version.
However, the big point here is that this stick is designed for players who are looking for something very different to me.
If you’re using a Pure Drive, you probably love that feeling of pure power from the strings, and then use lots of spin to add control to the ball.
The 2021 Pure Drive is set up perfectly for this and gives you tons of both power and spin.
The launch angle is quite high, so you’re automatically encouraged to drag the ball back into court and create that heavy topspin we all look for.
The nice thing about this, is that it makes it as easy as any racket to hit that heavy ball, and for players who struggle to do this naturally, this is very appealing.
So the big question – did Babolat achieve its goals and make the 2021 Babolat Pure Drive more comfortable?
I would certainly say so. It does feel a little bit more flexible and absorbs more vibrations than previous versions.
That it achieves this without losing out on power and spin will be exactly what Pure Drive lovers will be after.
While I’m not a massive fan of the way the Pure Drive creates power; I like something very control-oriented so I can swing big and rely on the deadened feel to get the ball in court, I can appreciate why this is a great groundstroker’s racket.
If you want easy power, the Pure Drive has it. It’s still not the most comfortable racket in the world, and the feel isn’t brilliant, but it gets a great score of 8.5 nonetheless.
Volleys – 7.5/10
I mentioned in my review of the old Pure Drive that I really don’t see it as a volleyer’s racket.
It’s much more of a racket where you do your damage from the back of the court and then put the easy volley away when your opponent is out of position.
The same thing is true of the 2021 Pure Drive, but it is an improvement on the last version.
The extra pocketing you get with the new stick has made it more comfortable to play with and gives you a little bit more feel.
This improvement gave the new racket a 0.5 higher score and makes it quite reasonable at the net.
It’s still not easy to control the hardest volleys with, but on the easier volleys that float at you it’s a nice weapon to inject power into the ball with.
This really helps you when you’ve got the easy put-always, taking time away from your opponent and making it easier to hit the clean winner.
In terms of doubles, it’s certainly not a racket I love playing with.
Yes, you’ve got the advantage of coming in behind some bomb serves, but, it’s just not brilliant on those difficult pickups.
It all depends on your style of play of course, but I would suggest this racket is much more suited to singles.
The newest version of the Pure Drive was an improvement at the net and we gave it a 7.5 out of 10.
Serve – 8.5/10
It’s hard not to like this racket on serve. The easy maneuverability helps you maximize your swing speed and on contact, it’s like you’re unleashing a bomb.
The power is there in spades, you’ve just got to work on controlling it and maintaining your serve percentage.
The easy access to spin helps with this, giving you the ability to control the power and add that extra margin for error.
I was able to use this nicely, particularly on my leftie serve to the ad, where I got a ton of slice to drag my opponent out of court.
I can see the Babolat Pure Drive 2021 suiting a huge range of players on serve, and especially those ones that need a little power boost.
Perhaps the only people who won’t enjoy this racket on serve are those people who just naturally hit a massive serve and want more control, but those are few and far between.
One of the most endearing things about this racket is that it works for players of all styles and virtually all levels, and I think that’s certainly true on the serve.
It’s easy to play with and offers a lot of performance, there’s not much more you can ask for.
Continuing the theme of the playtest, I think the new Pure Drive is a slight improvement on the old one, with better dampening.
We gave the Babolat Pure Drive 2021 a great score of 8.5 out of 10 for the serve.
Return – 7.5/10
The return is probably one area where you really don’t need the huge power potential of the Babolat Pure Drive.
Returning is generally about controlling power, and while this isn’t the Pure Drive’s strongest characteristic, it doesn’t get pushed around.
There was the odd return when I found the ball pinged on me a little bit, but other than that, I found I returned pretty well with this stick.
Again, you’ve got plenty of spin available to help you control the ball, and I felt like I used this to good effect, pushing my opponent back deep into the court.
It’s on the second serve return where this racket comes alive though.
With a little bit more time, you can seriously unload on the ball and look to attack the second serve.
This is a great tactic to get yourself on the front foot, and it’s something we enjoyed implementing with this 2021 Babolat Pure Drive.
While this wasn’t the strongest part of the playtest, we still thought the Pure Drive did pretty well and gave it a 7.5 out of 10.
Overall – 8.5/10
Overall, this is a good update from Babolat. It’s not easy to make changes to a racket that so many people love, but the new Pure Drive has improved on its weaknesses without impacting on its strengths.
Personally, the Pure Drive doesn’t suit me, mainly because of the feel, but clearly, there are lots of people who do really enjoy it.
If you’re that someone, then you’re going to benefit from great access to power and spin, and with the 2021 version, a slightly more comfortable playing experience.
It’s still go a way to go on comfort, but there’s always going to be a balance to be found between performance and comfort and lots of people will find the new Babolat Pure Drive hits the nail on the head.
We certainly found it did a pretty good job and gave it an 8.5 out of 10.