Expert Review: Babolat Pure Strike 98 16x19 Racquet · Unstrung
This review is my honest opinion of the tennis racquet, which I tested for 5 days in August of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the tennis racquet, which I tested for 5 days in August of 2022.
The Babolat Pure Strike 16x19 is ideal for aggressive-intermediate to advanced-level players searching for controllable power and a responsive feel. The Pure Strike 16x19 is an easy racquet to pick up and take into a match because it does so many things well without any major downsides or outstanding qualities. It provides competitive players with a reliable racquet that suits a variety of playing styles.
About the gear
- Model: Babolat Pure Strike 16x19 3rd Generation
- Grip Size: 4 ⅜ / EU 3
- String and Tension: Babolat Hybrid with Babolat RPM Rough Red 17g in the Mains and Babolat Xcel 16g in the Crosses. Strung at 56 lbs.
- Head size: 98
- Racquet Length: 27
- Any Customizations: Tournagrip Overgrip
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 185 lbs
- Previous Racquet Played With: Head Graphene 360+ Gravity MP
- Experience: 28 years
- NTRP/UTA Rating: 5.0
- When I tested these: August 2022
- Days tested: 5 days
- Court Surfaces: Hard
- Match Play/Practice Session/Both: Both
- Where I’ve used it: Kingsford High School, Kingsford, MI
How it performs
What I was looking for
Since purchasing the Head Graphene 360+ Gravity MP in June 2021, I’ve put it through the wringer; it’s handled just about all of the playing situations I’ve encountered. The one area where it could see improvement is its stability against heavy-hitting opponents, especially serve returns. As a result, I’ve been testing racquets throughout the summer to see if there are any that can offer the same seductive combination of feel, power, and control of the Gravity but stand up better to my harder-hitting playing partners.
Why I chose this gear
The third-generation Babolat Pure Strike racquets both surprised me in how much I liked them. Going into the week, I had never played with a Babolat racquet that I would have considered buying, but both of these racquets made me think long and hard about making a switch. The 16x19 version does so well and offers more stability than my Gravity MP, which is what I was looking for, but it also needs to be pushed hard to get the most out of it. At this stage in my playing career, sometimes I just like to go out and hit more casually with my dad or my kids and need a racquet that can still respond well to lower-intensity swings. The Gravity MP is more forgiving of changes in swing speed and plays well in all situations. If I were a few years younger and playing tournaments regularly, I would likely put the Pure Strike 16x19 on top of my list.
What I love about it
- Ground Strokes: The Pure Strike 16x19 was very easy to pick up and comfortable hitting groundstrokes. It has a good mix of power and control, easy access to spin with the open string pattern, and a fairly large sweet spot. It really responded to being aggressive off the ground while the control suffered on slower swings.
- Serves: The Pure Strike 16x19 continued with its easy-to-use reputation on serves. My first serve had nice pop, and I felt confident moving the ball around the service box. On my second serve, there was plenty of kick or slice, and again placement was seemingly easy.
- Stability: I tested this 16x19 version during the same week as the 18x20 version, which has a much higher swingweight, and I praised it for its stability. Even though the 16x19 version is 7RDC lower swingweight, it still proved to be very stable against hard-hitting opponents.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Control: Control with the Pure Strike 16x19 was a bit of a mixed bag. When hitting aggressively, I could pick smaller targets and felt confident in the ball staying in the court. However, the ball seemed to be much less predictable when using slower swings to change up the pace during a point or while warming up. Much like a race car that likes to be driven fast, the Pure Strike 16x19 likes to be in charge of the point.
- Feel: The 16x19 version of the Pure Strike doesn’t have the same buttery, smooth feel of the 18x20 that I liked so much. Much like the control, the feel changes drastically when being aggressive versus swinging slower. When taking bold strokes, the feel is very nice and offers good ball pocketing, where the ball feels like it stays on the strings longer and has a comfortably crisp response. When swinging slower, the feel is both more vague and harsh at the same time.
Favorite moment with this gear
The Babolat Pure Strike 16x19 was a great racquet to hit inside-out forehands with. When being aggressive on shots like that, there was loads of control, good power, and easy spin where I could feel confident that my shots would land in the court and more than likely not come back.
Value for the money vs. other options
The Babolat Pure Strike 16x19 is a very good value for the money as it is priced $20-40 less than similar racquets, such as the Head Boom Pro, Wilson Blade V8 16x19, and Tecnifibre TF 40 305 16x19.
The Babolat Pure Strike 16x19 is a racquet that does everything very well with no real drawbacks. It offers controllable power, easy access to spin, stability against heavy hitters, and confidence when serving. While it doesn’t have any outstanding attributes, like the power of the Pure Drive or the spin of the Pure Aero, it just gets the job done from all over the court. As it performs best while playing aggressively, it is a great racquet for ambitious intermediates to advanced players who play an attacking all-court style.