The Graphene Touch has come to Head’s Radical series of rackets, bringing further improvements to the company’s best-selling frames.
While the Graphene Touch Radical MP saw major upgrades to performance and solidity compared to previous models, the Graphene Touch Radical Pro’s emphasis is very much on improved playability. This, however, does not mean that the racket has abandoned the accuracy and touch that made its processors so popular.
Let’s see what’s new with the racket used by Andy Murray. Head size: 98 inch2 Weight: 310 g String pattern: 16 × 19 strings Balance: 31.5 mm Swingweight: 330 Stiffness: 66 Beam width: 20-23-21 mm Length: 68.6 cm
The aesthetics of the Graphene Touch Radical Pro are identical to those of the MP version and the rest of the Radical line, with deep orange dominating most of the frame.
The actual shape of the racket is also very similar to the rest of the line, down to even the 20-23-21 beam width. The relatively thin beam width profile reveals the power that is to be had in the Radical series, and is consistent throughout the line.
Closer to the top of the head, the traditional satin grey has been replaced with a metallic blue/purple combination, which contrasts nicely with the orange tones that dominate the rest of the racket.
The silkscreen prints are in white, and they stand out very nicely in the ocean of colors. The transparent bumper, which has always been a popular feature of the series, is thankfully present once again. The grip – a Hydrosorb Pro – is relatively traditional in shape, though it leans towards the rectangular side of the spectrum.
The cap is relatively pronounced, but otherwise pretty standard. Visually, the Graphene Touch Radical Pro certainly makes a statement with its radical color scheme, and is definitely stands out in a marketplace that all too often embraces more muted tones.
For the sake of practicality, a black grip would perhaps have been preferable, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker and looks nice to boot. On the court, the Radical Pro immediately shows that it’s a force to be reckoned with.
The swingweight is the first thing one notices, and at 330 it’s certainly substantial. The Radical Pro is definitely a racket that generates quite a bit of power, and will reward aggressive play styles. With the addition of Graphene Touch, the entire experience is also noticeably smoother than previous generations.
Vibrations are muted, and feel and responsiveness are greatly improved as a result. Impact is satisfying and comfortable, and the 16x19 string pattern lends a great sense of control to each shot. The Radical Pro sports a stiffness rating of 66, which is on the medium-low end, and as such there is a bit of flex to the racket.
Generating topspin is easy, and thanks to this the racket remains accurate on flatter or even shaky shots. The Radical Pro performs best when you are taking full, confident cuts at the ball. You don’t have to hit your arm off on every shot, but it’s important to fully complete each swing for the best results.
While generating spin is easy with the racket, it’s not going to do all the work for you, as some other rackets do. You’ll have to direct its spin generation, which is not a bad thing if you are someone who likes to hit very flat shots on occasion.
That being said, given the racket’s power it does its best work when you allow it to add some spin to the ball. If you are thinking that all of this sounds a bit daunting for a beginner, you’re right. The Pro is named “Pro” for a reason, and it requires a relatively experienced player to get the most out of it.
It’s not impossible to use for newer players, but they will likely not get what they need from the frame. On the other hand, if you are an experienced intermediate or advanced player, you will find the Radical Pro to be a wonderful racket, capable of executing your every command with a precision that’s truly impressive.
It’s from right behind the baseline that the Radical Pro shines brightest. It’s a tremendous racket to rally with: its flex and power allow you to counterpunch effectively, and stronger players will find it is ready at a moment’s notice to execute a killer forehand winner.
The power generation, while significant, is never overwhelming, and you always feel as if there is enough control to tame even the wildest strokes. As mentioned before, the racket benefits the most from full swings, and while shorter swings are very much playable they do tend to hold the racket back from its best.
It’s not that the racket requires a strong arm to use effectively, but it does need a technical arm to get the most out of it. This is not because of a restricted sweet spot or unforgiving stiffness, as is the case with some other rackets, but simply because it responds best to consistency of shot and full swings, something which less experienced players struggle with.
From the baseline, then, the racket excels, but that does not mean it’s inept in other situations. During the return, for example, it gives the player a lot of options. Blocking returns effectively is easier than usual with the Radical Pro, while more aggressive swings will yield equally positive results.
The backhand slice is another area the Radical Pro excels in. An aggressive slice is loaded with spin, and the shot is low, penetrating and fast if you commit to it. Indeed, the racket encouragesa aggressive slices, and thanks to its touch you always feel as if you are in control during these shots.
There is, however, little side-spin, which you will have to generate yourself, and as such curving slices are harder to execute. At the net, the Radical Pro is solid and consistent, especially with flat volleys.
Slice volleys tend to dip quickly, and you’ll have to practice quite a bit to get the balance right on these shots. Smashes are powerful and accurate, and round out the net game nicely. As far as the serve is concerned, the flat first serve is a joy with this racket.
The slice serve is fast, though it does not easily curve as much as with other rackets. But you can still execute some killer slices with a bit of practice. Kick serves are generally high and effective, second only to the flat serve in terms of consistency and effectiveness.
Ultimately, Head has done a good job with the Radical Pro, adding refinements to its previous design that make the racket slightly more forgiving, while also making it more powerful and effective.
It is not an extreme spin frame, but rather one for a more varied style of play which seeks to combine top spin with the odd flat shot thrown in. Power and control are the two main features of the racket, but these are combined with the kind of soft touch usually reserved for rackets like the Radical Pro Graphene, and is most welcome indeed on a pro-level frame.
The Radical Pro is a more user-friendly racket than any of its predecessors, but make no mistake: this one is not for beginners.
Test settings used: String Project Hexa Pro 1.20 20/20 21 / 21-22 / 22 kg Head Lynx 1.25 22 / 22- 21/21 20/20 kg Head Hawk Touch 1.20 21 / 21-23 / 22-22 / 22 kg Head Velocity MLT (multifilament) 23 / 23-22 / 22 kg Hybrid Hexa Pro 1.20 / Velocity MLT 22 / 22-23 / 23 kg (Suggest settings in bold)
Score: Power 8.5 Control 8 Sensitivity 7.5 Comfort 7.5 Tolerance 7 Topspin 7.5 Backspin 7 Flat shots 8.5 Net game 7.5 Serve 7.5 Return 8.5 Playability 7 Value for money 8 Total 100/130 .