The legendary, black, Wilson Pro Staff immediately evokes imagery of Roger Federer, as well as conjuring up memories of the old masters.
Sampras. Graf. Edberg. Courier.
All of these players have won a monster number of Grand Slams with their Pro Staff excaliburs.
Wilson generously supplied us with both their 315g Pro Staff v13 recently, as well as the Autograph, so we were eager to find out if they played as great as they looked out the box!
In today’s review, I’ll be taking a look at the Wilson Pro Staff Autograph v13, in particular.
During this playtest, I strung up English brand, QTS’ Black Turbo Spin 3 at 55lbs (no pre-stretch).
Groundstrokes – 7.5/10
The Wilson Pro Staff Autograph v13 has to be one of the most solid rackets of all time. Weighing in at a hefty 340g, delivering the racket effectively and consistently upon impact will require good levels of strength and technique.
If you’re an advanced player craving more control, however, this racket is going to feel a dream on your groundstrokes. The plow through is sensational and when the stars align, so to speak, you’ll experience a consistency of depth and pace without parallel.
As a high-level club player, I have played around with this racket for several years now and really enjoyed Wilson’s latest update of the RF 97 on my groundstroke game.
We receive hundreds of similar messages from our readers who relate to this.
Advanced players are going to love this Wilson stick – a true “players” frame which allows you to take huge cuts at the ball and keep it fizzing down inside the court!
Speaking of fizz, access to spin is surprisingly effortless considering the racket’s beefy swingweight.
You will need some solid technique to unlock this, so beginning players will want to consider one of the more forgiving Wilson rackets out there.
However, strong players will find pleasing levels of RPM with this stick. It’s not quite Babolat Pure Aero-like in terms of spin (one of the most spin-friendly rackets we’ve ever tested), but it certainly delivers the goods.
Serve – 8/10
I like to call the Wilson Pro Staff Autograph v13 a true “point and shoot” racket on serve!
You won’t quite find the ridiculous mph of the Babolat Pure Drive Plus with it, but you will experience an exceptional level of precision that you can rely upon point after point and match after match.
For me (Tom), my serve is my biggest weapon and I naturally generate some good, 120 mph-ish speed and decent spin regardless of the racket I’m using.
At the level I play at (ie. nowhere near professional!) it really doesn’t make sense for me to be chasing more power with a more powerful racket. Already possessing enough zip to get the job done means looking to a racket which helps me find my targets more regularly.
If this sounds like you too, there’s no need to look any further than the 340g Wilson Pro Staff. I’ve genuinely never felt as dialed in in terms of accuracy as I did with this stick.
Of course, with good comes some small drawbacks…
As is the case on forehand and backhand, you will need a very solid foundation in order to wield this racket effectively.
You won’t get anything for free in terms of power or spin!
So, if your technique isn’t optimal or you don’t possess a high level of strength, we would recommend looking at a racket with a bigger head, more forgiveness, and consequently, a little more easy power.
Volleys – 10/10
Volleying is probably my least favourite part of tennis, so before heading out on court I was wondering how my time at the net was going to pan out.
Considering the Wilson Pro Staff Autograph v13 is designed for those who love to be at the net, I didn’t have any high levels of expectation!
However, this was one of the best parts of the playtest for me!
I had to rate the Pro Staff at 10/10 as I’ve genuinely never come across a racket that volleyed as well as this stick does.
The racket won the collision with the ball with ease and sent the ball cutting away through the court.
Currently, I’m using the Wilson Blade 98, which is a much lighter racket, so my initial worry was that the 340g Pro Staff would cause me to play the ball late.
I needn’t have worried, as the stick was surprisingly manoeuvrable at the net; its headlight balance making this a true magic wand for those who choose to delve into the service boxes.
Overall – 8.5/10
This racket does everything very well indeed, but I’d say its best asset was precision, especially on the volley.
My volleying isn’t great, to be honest – it’s something I’m working on, but after my initial warm-up period with the racket, I had such a fun time volleying with it! It’s easy to see why a guy like Federer has used the racket his whole career.
I loved the plush, crisp feeling I was finding upon contact and felt the ball was really zipping off my string bed.
In the playtest it felt like I was killing the point instead of leaving a half-finished ball for my opponent to eat up, as can often happen.
On serve – this is a racket I would want to take out on to the court for every single match. Power levels were adequate, but not great.
However, the racket really is geared more towards control – top players using this racket will already have all the power in the world and the Pro Staff will help them to find their targets with ease.
Compared to some of the larger headed rackets like Babolat’s Pure Drive range, the Wilson’s 97-inch head seems small in comparison and will offer less forgiveness. However, I was still able to generate a pleasing amount of spin and deliver a solid, heavy ball that pushed my opponent back on groundstrokes.
This might be a bit of a strange way to end such a positive review, but it needs to be said.
Many people will buy this racket looking to emulate their heroes.
Please don’t do that.
If you’re an aspiring teenager, it’s probably the great man, Federer. For those of the older generation, it could be Steffi Graf or “Pistol” Pete Sampras and his leaded up log of racket!
Not to cast a negative vibe on this glowing review and genuinely wonderful racket, but, we owe our reader’s this level of honesty…
Beware. You might well find this kills your tennis as well as your body if your game isn’t suitable for such a heavy, advanced level racket.
We see far too many lower club level players using rackets with far too hefty a swingweight for their level of ability. These people think, “because Federer uses it” it must be the best racket.
As we’ve talked about time and time again in our content, there is no such thing as “the best racket” as it is so dependent on the individual.
If you’re unsure about whether this racket is right for you, we would recommend starting with the 315g Wilson Pro Staff and working up from there. However, even many professional players, including Britain’s own, Dan Evans, prefer the feel of the lighter stick!
This isn’t the case solely amongst the Pro Staff users, either.
Babolat’s Dominic Thiem also plays with a racket under 320g, according to our sources, and Nadal’s racket is nowhere near 340g, either. Big John Isner’s Prince racket is lighter, still at 300g!
There are exceptions to this – Murray and Wawrinka use very heavy rackets, as does Federer, obviously.
However, our point is, there is such a variety of weights being used, even on the professional tour, which shows that there is no correlation between racket weight (over a certain point – you won’t find any pros using a 250g racket) and ability.
Bringing this back to the Wilson Pro Staff Autograph v13 specifically, now.
If you’re a good level player in excellent physical shape and plenty of your own, natural power, but craving more control, you’re going to absolutely love the Wilson Autograph.
If you love to serve and volley too, I think your true love is just one click away…
Review by: Tom