Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 3rd Gen Specs
Head Size: 98 in² / 632 cm²
Length: 27in / 68,5cm
Strung Weight: 323g / 11,4oz
Unstrung Weight: 305g/10,8oz
Balance: 33,02cm / 4 pts HL
String Pattern: 18 Mains / 20 Crosses
A must-try for players who love a racket that’s easy to maneuver but has tons of control, we put the Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 3rd Gen through its paces to find out if it lives up to the previous version.
As you will know if you read the review on the 2nd generation of this racket, we’re massive fans of the 18 x 20 Pure Strike. I (Will) use this racket, just with a little bit of extra weight in the V and still enjoy it as much as the day I first picked it up.
For me this stick gets the perfect balance between maneuverability and stability, resulting in great control that allows you to really go after your shots. Babolat has increased the swingweight from 325 to 334 with the new racket whilst still keeping a similar flex rating, so, in theory, it should be more of the same with the new stick.
With the 98 sq. inch head and 18 x 20 string pattern, you’ve got a very dense pattern that isn’t going to offer you tons of power and spin potential, but it is going to give you the one thing this racket is known for – control.
New to the 3rd Gen is C2 Pure Feel which helps gives this frame a little bit more of a dampened feel and some more cushioning. One of the few complaints we hear about the old Pure Strike was that it wasn’t particularly arm-friendly. With a 334 swingweight, the 3rd Gen isn’t going to be the easiest racket to play with, but hopefully, the new technology should help combat that.
We stuck to my normal string setup for this playtest and went with Babolat RPM Blast at 50lbs. I love all the control I can get, so the Pure Strike and RPM Blast always seem like a natural fit to me!
As always when we try out a new version of a top range like the Pure Strike we’re hopeful it lives up to expectations, but we needn’t have been worried with this Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 3rd Gen.
Groundstrokes – 9.5/10
This is where a modern racket needs to perform, and boy does this 18 x 20 Pure Strike.
You’ve got to enjoy a low powered racket to get along with this stick, but if you’re looking for a speedy racket with all kinds of control then this is the one for you. The frame is so solid for its weight and the strings just tame the ball on contact allowing you to do what you want with it.
If you generate plenty of racket head speed then you’re going to be able to swing through with absolute confidence and go for your shots. On my forehand, this worked out an absolute dream. I was hitting with tons of power, getting plenty of topspin when I wanted but was also able to flatten the ball out when it was needed.
On the backhand side, the great plow through helped me guide the ball deep, and although it didn’t offer me any easy power, I was still able to rip through the ball and maximize my swing speeds.
I do think the big thing with this racket is that you’ve got to have some solid swings to swing through and get the most out of it. If you’re not used to swinging through aggressively then you might find it to be too underpowered.
The new technology does make this stick a little bit softer than the old version, but I wouldn’t say it is the most comfortable racket out there. I generally find the same thing when new rackets come out – they make a slight improvement on the old one but generally not enough to warrant immediately downing tools and rushing out to buy the new one.
Seeing as the old one got a 9.5 out of 10 for groundstrokes, we’ve given the new Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 3rd Gen the same score.
Volleys – 8/10
This is an excellent racket to volley with given its weight. It’s got all the ingredients you want when you’re at the net: control, stability, precision, and maneuverability.
As someone who loves 18 x 20 string patterns, I would say this, but I do think the 18 x 20 Pure Strike is a little stronger at the net than the 3rd Gen 16 x 19, although there isn’t a great deal in it.
I must admit, I still use the older version of this racket, and I added some extra weight to take it to around 315g and the main reason was for volleys, particularly in doubles. Although this racket is good at the net for a 305g racket, I did feel like I wanted that extra bit of weight and the Pure Strike is very adaptable at allowing you to do that.
I had much the same feelings with this new Pure Strike, and although it’s got a little bit more swingweight, and nicer cushioning, I would still add a little bit of weight just to tame it a little bit for doubles.
For players who are comfortable at the 305g weight though, there’s not much more you can expect from this racket at the net. It really is an excellent all round racket and we gave it 8 out of 10 for the volleys.
Serve – 8/10
We gave the 18 x 20 Pure Strike an 8 out of 10 for the serve, a slightly lower score than the 16 x 19. That’s just because the 16 x 19 had a little more pop, which most people will appreciate on the serve.
Having said that, if you’re used to 18 x 20 string patterns and have a strong serve then this racket has so much to offer. The control and precision gives you the freedom to swing through with gusto, attacking your targets and taking control of the point.
The nice thing about this racket is that it has the maneuverability you would expect from a 305g stick, but it’s level of control is something you would expect from a much heavier racket. This allows you to generate lots of racket head speed on the serve, something the heavier rackets can make more difficult.
If you struggle for power on the serve, then this might be the one area where it’s worth looking at the 16 x 19 as an alternative. You’ve got to give the ball a good smack to get power, so bear that in mind if you’re looking at this stick.
We loved serving with the Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 3rd Gen, but you do have to be confident in your service action to get the most out of it.
Return – 9.5/10
This racket is set up so nicely for returning. It comes through fast allowing you to time the ball well and you’ve got great stability and control on impact. This allows you to block the ball back when you need to but also attack the return when it’s there to be attacked.
Just like with the volleys, I feel like the returning performance can be improved even more by adding a little bit of weight, but even in stock form, it’s got a beautiful setup for returning.
I loved stepping in with this stick and really attacking the second serve. You can swing through with such confidence because you know there’s tons of control to keep the ball from hitting the back fence.
Both in singles and doubles I found I returned really well with the Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 3rd Gen and gave it a 9.5 out of 10.
Overall – 9/10
Overall, Babolat has picked up where it left off with the Pure Strike 18 x 20. While the changes aren’t ground breaking, they have made a slight improvement to this stick, making it a little bit more comfortable and even more stable.
We’ve always loved the Pure Strike rackets, and that’s only continued with the 3rd Gen iteration. Whether you find yourself at the back of the court or at the net, it’s got everything you need to play good tennis, and that’s exactly what we did.
The one big consideration is whether you’re confident enough in your strokes to get the most out of the 18 x 20 string pattern, but if you do want a little bit more pop then you’ve always got the option of the excellent 16 x 19 Pure Strike.
After a great playtest with the Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 3rd Gen, we gave this stick a score of 9 out of 10.
Review by: Will