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: 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
The Wilson Blade 98s are some of our favorite rackets here at the TennisBros.com so we we’re pretty excited to get our hands on the Wilson Blade 98 V7 (16 x 19).
The Wilson Blade 98 V7 is the latest update to one of the most recognizable rackets out there. It brings some new FeelFlex technology to the Blade which should make this racket even more comfortable than its predecessors whilst improving the feel.
In case you missed all the hype earlier in the year, Wilson brought out their new Clash rackets which aimed to change the way rackets flexed on impact. We were a little lukewarm on many of the rackets, including the Clash 100 Tour. We liked the ideas behind the technology and the levels of comfort it brought, but there were some performance aspects that we didn’t like.
Some of that technology has now been brought to the Blade range and if the Blade 98 V7 could keep the great performance of previous rackets whilst incorporating the technology of the Clash rackets then you would be looking at one hell of a racket!
The thing that we love about the previous Blades was that they’re generally control oriented but they have a great balance of all the main characteristics. Whether you’re using the Blade 98 (16 x 19) or the Blade 98 (18 x 20) you get great levels of control, but you also get good access to spin and power.
The one criticism that people seemed to have with the last Countervail versions of the Blade 98 was that it had a very muted feel. The Countervail technology did a great job at absorbing shocks and making the racket more comfortable to play with, but whilst doing it, it also took some of the feel away from the racket. Personally, I like a muted feel from my rackets, so I got along really well with the old Blades but it’s certainly something I would be looking out for with the new Wilson Blade 98 V7.
For this playtest we went with a setup of Babolat RPM Blast strung at 52lbs. This setup should accentuate the control levels of the Blade and also offer a lot of spin potential. For a player that loves to take big swings at the ball that’s an exciting sounding prospect.
We were really hoping this playtest would go well because this technology does represent a step forward for tennis players. There’s so much wear and tear that we suffer as a result of playing tennis, so any steps forward in comfort are well received. Of course, we don’t want to sacrifice performance though so hopefully the Wilson Blade 98 V7 would be the answer.
Groundstrokes – 8.5/10
I’d have to say I do believe the Blade 98 V7 has greatly improved the feel compared to the previous version. I just felt like I could feel the ball on my strings that little bit longer which gave me more feel on the ball.
This could well be down to the new technology which helps the racket flex in directions that you want it to flex but stay solid in directions that you want it to stay solid. If that sounds complicated, it probably is! However, the outcome is you get the stability that leads to power and control and the flexibility that leads to comfort and feel.
I’ve always found the Blade rackets to feel “right” in my hands, they feel like a tennis racket ought to and the Blade 98 V7 is no different. The first thing I look for is control from my racket and I was getting plenty of that from this stick. I was able to take big rips at the ball and really attack with power and spin, knowing the Blade had the control to keep the ball in the court.
With the Clash rackets I often found that I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get from the racket. Sometimes it would just ping long, but you don’t get that with the Blade 98 V7.
Another thing you will find with this 16 x 19 Blade 98 V7 is good access to spin. It’s not a racket that gives everything to you easily, you’ve got to hit with good racket head speed, but when you do, you’re going to be rewarded with power, spin, and control.
The last thing I found with the new V7 is that it is a touch more maneuverable than the last racket. The balance of the racket has moved slightly more towards the handle which helps get the racket moving quickly, but because of the technological improvements this hasn’t impacted on the stability.
From the back of the court, I found that the Blade 98 V7 has all the great benefits of previous Blades with a little bit more feel and even more comfort. This racket still doesn’t do enough to make me want to change from my Pure Strike (which is being updated very soon) but it sure comes close.
We gave the Wilson Blade 98 V7 (16 x 19) an 8.5 out of 10 for groundstrokes, a slight improvement on the Blade 98 CV.
Volleys – 8/10
So, Larry did the playtest for the Wilson Blade 98 CV and got a little bit carried away, giving it a 9.5 out of 10 for volleys. Personally, I didn’t think the Blade 98 CV was a 9.5 out of 10 at the net and the new V7 isn’t either. It’s not an out and out volleyer’s racket, but it is a good racket at the net.
It does the things you need it to do well. First of all, it’s very maneuverable which means you can get into position quickly and secondly, it’s nice and stable on contact. The last thing you want when you’re hitting volleys is your racket pinging all over the place so it’s nice to have something solid in your hands like the Blade 98 V7.
I think when it comes to volleying, a lot of it is dictated by the weight of your racket. My favorite volleying racket is the Wilson Pro Staff 97RF, but you’re looking at a 340g racket. That’s not suitable for most players so you’re going to want a different blend. The 305g weight of the new Blade is much more manageable and still does a very good job for you at the net.
A question I always ask myself in these playtests is would I feel comfortable playing doubles with this racket and that answer is a resounding yes. I felt very comfortable on all types of volleys – exactly what you need for doubles.
A score of 8 out of 10 on volleys is a very good score for a 305g racket. The Wilson Blade 98 V7 is slightly better from the back of the court, but not by much.
Serve – 8.5/10
The Wilson Blade 98 V7 ticked all the boxes with a great performance on the serve. It’s got the speed to get you swinging through the serve aggressively and the control to tame all that power you create.
Personally, I slightly preferred the more muted feel of the older version of this racket but for those people who prefer the more involved feel the Blade 98 V7 will hit the nail on the head. Whichever feel you like, if you can produce good racket head speed, the Blade 98 will give you good results.
The other thing that I haven’t mentioned so much in this review is that you get great comfort. At this point, you can just assume it feels soft and buttery on every shot because really that’s the case. The performance of the V7 might not necessarily be much better than the old CV racket, but it has taken steps forward in comfort and feel without sacrificing in performance.
Given how highly we rated the Blade 98 CV that is a great achievement.
On a personal level, I found I was serving really well with this racket. I felt really confident attacking the first serve and going for difficult targets, safe in the knowledge that I was going to make the second serve.
The confidence on the second serve is born out of a predictable, control oriented feel that leaves you feeling like you’re in complete control of the ball. That’s one of the reasons I love control rackets, and just another reason I love this Wilson Blade 98 V7.
The Blade 98 V7 got an 8.5 out of 10 on the serve from us. Once again, there aren’t any negatives here.
Overall – 9/10
Overall this is a great racket and another good step forward for the Blade series. I found a lot of things I liked about the racket throughout the playtest and nothing I can say I particularly disliked.
From the back of the court the Blade 98 V7 is speedy yet solid, offering the classic control that we associate with Blade rackets. However, don’t think that takes away from the power and spin potential this racket offers, it truly is an allround racket.
At the net, The Wilson Blade 98 V7 does everything you would want from a 305g racket. It absorbs power well, which means you’ve got great levels of control. Whether you’re looking to hit a difficult pick up volley, an easy overhead, or a finesse drop volley you’ve got that ability because you’ve got control.
Lastly, you’ve got a weapon on the serve. It’s easy to get this racket moving quickly and it’s easy to turn racket head speed into power and spin.
It’s an easy transition from the Wilson Blade 98 CV to the Wilson Blade 98 V7 and there are very few players that are going to be complaining about the change. Overall, we gave the Wilson Blade 98 V7 a 9 out of 10.
Review by: Will