Updated: Jun 28, 2022
The set is now complete! The launch of the Babolat Pure Strike VS means that all three of Babolat’s signature racquets – Pure Drive, Pure Aero, and Pure Strike – now have a specialist ‘VS’ version, offering enhanced advantages to those best suited to playing with them.
The VS series is designed to take the regular model of the racquet but make subtle changes that performance players will benefit from. The series began with the Pure Drive VS in 2019, the Pure Aero VS followed in 2020, and now the set is completed with the Pure Strike VS, aimed at high-skilled attacking players whose game is built around taking the ball early and looking for maximum control and precision.
Compared with the Pure Strike, the VS model has a slightly smaller head size. The head is 97 square inches instead of 98, which brings the extra precision, but it is better protected from scrapes with the court surface.
Babolat’s Tennis Group Marketing Manager Olivier Carlier says, “Every racquet has a protective ‘bumper’, a piece of plastic that protects the frame from damage if the player plays a low shot and the racquet scrapes against the ground at high speed. If you think of a racquet frame as a clockface, most bumpers are fitted from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock, but on the Pure Strike VS we have extended it to running from 9 to 3 o’clock, to protect more of the frame and strings from abrasions, and maintain a high performance level.
“We worked on the stability of the racquet to offer maximum responsiveness,” he adds. “Responsiveness is the capacity of the ball to fly off the string, so the increased stability compensates for the small reduction in the sweet spot. The Pure Strike VS is the racquet in the Babolat range that gives most control, and with these adjustments, attacking players who hit with large swings will be able to play with full confidence.”
Added benefit for competitive players
The ‘VS’ label emerged over the first 50 years of Babolat’s history. The French family-owned company began making strings for racquet sports in 1875, and each experiment at improving the gut was accompanied by two letters to denote the material and the trial number. In 1925 the VS emerged as the highest quality of gut string, and Babolat has used the name ever since, mainly for its original product of high-quality gut strings, but more recently for other top-of-the-range products, like racquets.
The Babolat Pure Strike VS has a recommended retail price of €279.95. It comes with a leather grip for greater feel, and players wanting to buy two racquets can buy them in pairs with a guaranteed maximum weight difference of 1 gramme between the two – most tennis racquets (from all makers) can have a 7g variance across the same model, so the 1g guarantee helps the player know that if a string breaks during a match, the replacement racquet will be effectively identical.
“Obviously we hope that players at all levels will adopt the Pure Strike VS,” says Olivier Carlier, “but during the two years we researched and tested it across the world, we realised we needed it in our range mainly for the competitive players. We have the three main Babolat models – the Pure Drive for baseliners who need to call on explosivity, the Pure Aero for those who play with a lot of spin, and the Pure Strike for attacking players who like to make the most of the opponent’s power to generate their own.
“By making the frame more flexible, we have given the Pure Strike VS a bit more precision than the standard Pure Strike by enhancing the responsiveness. We call it ‘sharp control’ as it gives even more precision with a perfect power/control balance.”
Babolat’s ‘most beautiful racquet’?
Visually, the Pure Strike VS will be as striking as its stablemates. Like the Pure Drive and Pure Aero VS models, it is a shiny chrome, but with the distinctive red of the standard Pure Strike colour scheme appearing as two stripes on the chrome. One brand ambassador has described it as “the most beautiful racquet Babolat has developed for many years.”
Another visual feature is the string pattern. Whereas the standard Pure Strike has either 16 main and 19 cross strings, or 18 mains and 20 crosses, the Pure Strike VS has a 16/20 pattern which Babolat’s research and testing showed was the best combination to create the optimum balance between control and power.
So what kind of player will most benefit from the latest addition to Babolat’s range of quality racquets? Olivier Carlier sees a very clear spec: “If you play frequently, compete in tournaments, want a high level of performance and precision from your racquet, then you should certainly look at our VS range. And if you play with a large swing, hit generally flat, stay close to the baseline in order to take the ball on the rise, and often want to go to the net, the Pure Strike VS is the racquet that will allow you to hit freely with full confidence.”