The amazing thing about the Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 racket is it only weighs 305g but has the feel of a much heavier racket. It weighs 10g less than the Pure Aero Tour, but when you hold the two, you would have thought that the Pure Strike was the heavier racket. From the moment I picked up the Pure Strike I felt like it was a racket that I would get along with, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The Pure Strike gives a brilliant blend of control and maneuverability, something that we often find rackets in this weight range struggle with. If you like a racket that is well balanced, giving you good power, but with a slight emphasis on control then this is the one for you!
Visually, this is a pretty sexy racket. But we were delighted to find out that the Babolat Pure Strike is just as effective as it is good looking. We love the minimalist color scheme of black and white with just a flash of red. Although it’s clearly not the most important aspect of a racket, we certainly wouldn’t mind being seen out and about with this one!
The Pure Strike is a head-light racket, which is what gives it the feel of a heavier racket. With the weight being centered slightly over the grip, it feels like you have a very solid racket in your hands.
The balance of the Pure Strike is complimented by a standard size 630cm sq. head, which is forgiving enough to allow for the odd little mistake, but firm enough that you still get great feedback from your shots. The 18 x 20 string pattern looks like it’s been squeezed into a very small space here, but we found that the added precision really suited the style of the Pure Strike.
If you had to categorize this racket, it would neatly fit into the control category, but if you want to loosen everything up a bit and have a little more power and spin potential then you can always opt for the 16 x 19 or 17 x 20 versions, which should make those things just a little easier.
To help you tease a little bit more spin and power out of your game, Babolat has introduced some new technology in their latest version. FSI Power Technology has been introduced to try and add a little bit more spin and power in the 18 x 20 version, this has seen the gap between the upper-cross string slightly widened to allow for a little bit more movement and thus more spin.
The beam has also been thickened slightly compared to previous versions to increase power and stability through the stroke. We found that these small adjustments did have a slight effect on the racket versus previous versions; the racket felt wonderfully solid throughout all shots, and we did seem to be able to generate a little bit more spin.
While we are aware that the rackets the pros endorse aren’t necessarily the rackets they use, it seems like Babolat have sought the advice of plenty of their pro players for this racket and have aimed to create a pro-style racket without the excessive weight. We love the idea of this, but I was dubious about dropping down from a much heavier weight, especially to something that is just 305g. I have to say though, I really loved the result, and Babolat have really hit the nail on the head with this racket.
Babolat say their racket is designed for attacking minded players “who dare to strike first,” and they’ve got a pretty good ambassador in Dominic Thiem. It’s difficult to know exactly what specification the pros use in their personal rackets, but it did seem like Thiem had at least some part in the development of the racket. On trialing the racket, he told Babolat Insiders, “I loved contributing to the development of the new Pure Strike in a concrete way, it’s important to be able to interact with the Babolat teams, to provide feedback and to be able to evolve the racket that has allowed me to climb in the world rankings since entering the circuit.”
Whoever is responsible for this racket, they certainly deserve all the money they received. The Babolat Pure Strike does exactly what it’s designed to do; offering the control and stability of a much heavier racket, but the easy swing acceleration of a lightweight racket. This lends itself to the ultra-attacking tennis players out there who love to take big full swings at the ball and take their opponent out with pinpoint accuracy.
Groundstrokes – 9.5/10
From the very first ball we hit, the Pure Strike felt extremely solid, and wonderfully balanced. It just felt right in my hand, and the headlight balance encouraged me to hit through my shots and get the most out of my swings. This was particularly helpful on my backhand where I felt I was really getting my right hand (my non-dominant hand) through the ball and creating all kinds of power.
This is something I often struggle with when using my much heavier 334g Head Touch Pro, and I loved the fact that no matter how far out of position I found myself, I could take a big swing and go after the ball. My backhand is always a very solid shot for me, I don’t miss off that side very often, but all too often it isn’t the weapon I need it to be, and my opponents are happy just to pin me on that side, away from my forehand.
They may be disappointed, however if I choose to switch over to the Babolat Pure Strike. The lighter frame was helping me to generate real power off the backhand wing, but I still felt that wonderful control that Babolat promise with the Pure Strike.
One of our most commonly discussed questions at TheTennisBros.com is whether you want a racket that minimizes your weaknesses or accentuates your strengths. So, with my weakness well and truly minimized by the Babolat Pure Strike, I set about trying out some forehands, fearful that it might take a little something off my best shot.
The short answer is yes it did, but certainly not in a big way. With my Head Speed Pro, I feel like I have the racket that is best suited for my forehand, everything feels like a dream, and I get all the spin, power, and speed that I could want for.
The Pure Strike is not a million miles off though! Once again, the racket feels brilliant throughout the swing, and the feeling off the racket is exactly what I look for.
The one thing I struggled with was creating the spin off the forehand that I am accustomed to. I love to hit with high net clearance and lots of spin to push my opponent back, but I was finding that hard to do with the Pure Strike.
I feel like this could be due to the light weight of the Pure Strike and was one of the reasons I was a little dubious about moving down in weight to 305g. This could just be a case of getting used to the racket though, and of course you can always customize the string tension and strings you use to suit your game.
Overall, the Pure Strike gets a 9.5 for groundstrokes. It has been designed with attacking groundstroke play in mind, and it seriously ticks that box. Control and stability are its key qualities, and it allows you to swing through the ball with complete confidence.
Where did it drop .5? It just felt like it lacked a tiny bit of spin potential compared to other rackets. Clearly that’s something Babolat are quite aware of, and they made steps with the last update, but we would expect they might make another jump forward with their next update.
Serve – 8/10
I used the Pure Strike straight after demoing the Babolat Pure Aero Tour, which feels like it turns your serve into a rocket launcher, so I was wondering if I might struggle to get much power with the more control oriented Pure Strike.
It certainly doesn’t have the effortless power of its Babolat cousin, but that’s not what you expect from this style of racket. Instead, you get a continuation of the positives the Pure Strike shows on the groundstrokes: control and perfect feel throughout the shot.
I may not have been hitting bombs with the Pure Strike, but what I was able to do was really go after my placement. Larry suffered the brunt of the Pure Strikes accuracy, getting nowhere near four or five aces in the short time we played (he probably cut those from the video).
If your game is all about hitting big serves with a racket that gives you lots of power, the Pure Strike might be difficult to adapt to at first. But what you lose in power you do make up for in control and feel. Personally, I feel like there’s an extra 10-15 mph that I can find in my serve if I maximize my technique, so I wouldn’t be too worried about losing a little power from the racket.
We give the Pure Strike an 8 out of 10 for the serve. It has excellent control and feel, but perhaps not the easy power some people enjoy on their serve.
Volleys – 8/10
The Pure Strike has great characteristics for volleying, namely a solid feel, and lots of control. If you can get your volleys out in front and keep the swing nice and punchy, you’re going to benefit from this racket.
It has great feel for those crucial situations, when you need to put your volley on a dime, but also feels very solid when a ball has been smashed at you. The head light balance feels beautiful in your hands when your hustling around at the net, and despite being “an attacking groundstroker’s” racket, it is still a lovely racket to volley with.
If doubles is your thing, then the Pure Strike is still an excellent option. You may not be going after quite as many attacking groundstrokes, but the control you can get on the return and volleys is a real bonus.
The Pure Strike gets a solid 8 from us on the volleys, it’s probably not your first option if you chip and charge off every ball, but it is more than adequate for anyone with an all-round game style.
Conclusion – 9/10
The Pure Strike is a great racket for the modern baseline tennis player and would really suit men and women from intermediate to high standard tennis players who seek control from their racket. This is the first racket in this weight category that I have felt can offer the control characteristics of a heavier racket, and you also benefit from putting a little less strain on your body with the lighter weight.
From the moment we picked this racket up, we really enjoyed the experience, and were particularly impressed with the control we got off our groundstrokes. Babolat advertise the Pure Strike as the racket for aggressive players, and it certainly rewarded us when we looked to take control of the point.
Overall, we loved this racket and gave it a very strong 9 out of 10. The balance and control are exactly what we love in a racket, and it brought the best out of our games. If control and feel are the big things for you when trying a racket, then get out and give this one a go!
Review by: Will