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Tech It Out: Head Graphene Radical Pro

4/12/2014
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Tech It Out: Murray's Racquet

Prim Siripipat talks to Harry Tong, the managing director at Brad Gilbert Tennis Nation, who breaks down the racquet Andy Murray uses, the Head Graphene Radical Pro.

When I first picked up the Head Graphine Radical Pro, I was intrigued.

It had a near-perfect weight for producing strong, plush shots at 11.5 ounces and a moderately heavy swing weight. Plus, the radical line has had a long lineage of popular rackets. The last time I used one, however, was nearly 10 years ago, when I had purchased two oversize Liquid Medal Radicals. I remember how flexible and comfortable hitting was, especially for a 107 head. Groundies were aggressive and maneuverable, and serves, while lacking some control given the oversized surface area, produced some serious zip.

But the latest version of this line was radically different, so to speak. As a matter of fact, judging by the specs, the Graphine Radical Pro is quite a change in direction from previous iterations.

The bottom line: If you’re seeking controlled power, this stick has an ideal blend of both.

In the past few years, I’ve been more inclined to pick up more control-oriented rackets than I had previously. The trade-off, of course, is that the further down the control spectrum you go, the less power rackets yield, generally speaking anyway.

And then I took a few swings with the Head Graphine Radical Pro, Andy Murray's choice of rackets. Surprise, surprise. Not only was there some serious jump off the string bed, but the stiffer frame helped alleviate wild shots. Actually, the use of “stiff,” which to some has an unfavorable connotation, in tennis-tech parlance anyway, might be the wrong description here. This racket was extraordinary stable -- and comfortable. Unlike the Liquid Metal, which had a springboard effect -- one that regularly engendered extra-base hits off the back fence -- the Graphine technology, which is a material as light as titanium and as string as a diamond according to the above video, helped keep the ball in the court.

As matter of fact, I found myself stepping into the ball and hitting cleaner strokes. The combination of power and control created confident hitting all around.

I did find myself lowering the string tension to around 48 pounds with a hybrid gut/poly combo the second time I went out. I really enjoyed returning serve with this stick. Blocking the ball back with a beam that registers around a 68 on the stiffness scale was fluid and easy. Sticking volleys was cake.

I place a small amount of lead tape on the head, somewhere in the 9 to 10 o’clock area, but the Graphine Radical actually has some meat up top to begin with.

The other thing I did was add a leather grip and an additional overgrip to the 4½ handle to square up the bevels (just personal preference). Head historically has a rectangular shape to its handles.

If there’s one shortcoming, despite the ease in which I could take some massive cuts, I wasn’t fully able to generate the spin and torque I typically find in more flexible rackets. But like any new piece of hardware, slight adjustments, like making a staunch effort to get under the ball, helped. But if the tradeoff is more control, then it’s a win, especially in this day and age of tennis in which baseline bashing in commonplace. But after 20-30 minutes of hitting, I figured out slight mechanical nuances to generate good spin, which to many players should come easily given the racket’s open 16-19 string pattern.

But I found this racket ideal for players who have both compact, classic swings and for those who take longer, more contemporary hacks.

I have a decent amount of sticks in my bag. Some make the cut, some don’t. This one did by a mile.