Expert Review: Wilson Blade 98 V7 Racquet · Unstrung
This review is my honest opinion of the racquet, which I tested for 5 days in August of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the racquet, which I tested for 5 days in August of 2022.
The Wilson Blade 98 16x19 V7 is a top choice for competitive players. It offers controllable power, a comfortable feel, and solid stability on impact. It rewards aggressive players with pinpoint accuracy and confidence from all areas of the court.
About the racquet I tested
- Model: Wilson Blade 98 16x19 V7
- Grip Size: 4 ⅜ / EU 3
- String and Tension: Volkl Vstar 16G Strung at 56 lbs.
- Head size: 98in2
- Racquet Length: 27in
- Any Customizations: Yonex SuperGrap Overgrip, Head Logo Vibration Dampener
- 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: Five 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
I’ve been playing with the Head Graphene 360+ Gravity MP for 15 months now and still enjoy it every time I go out. It gives me a comfortable feel, forgiving sweetspot, and controllable power. As I played more competitive matches this year, I found that I would like a bit more stability against the biggest-hitting opponents. Whether it is on serve returns or when stretched wide during a rally, the Gravity MP can get pushed around by powerful shots. I have been testing numerous racquets this summer to see if there are any that give me the positive attributes of the Gravity but also offer more stability. There is a new model of the Blade 98 16x19 that was released in 2021, but the specs of version seven suit my needs better on paper. With the V7 still having widespread availability at a reduced price, I decided to try it and see if it had the right recipe to replace my Gravity.
Why I didn’t choose this racquet
The Blade 98 16x19 has long been a favorite of competitive players looking for the classic feel and control of traditional player’s racquets with a bit of modern power and speed thrown in. The 7th version I tested added even more speed by dropping the swingweight to a level that was very enticing on paper—as it looked to give the stability that I wanted while still being maneuverable. Throughout the test, the Blade 98 16x19 did work quite well for my game. It gave me the comfortable feel of my Gravity, plenty of control, and added stability. It wasn’t quite enough to get me to switch though, as the Gravity offers easier access to spin and slightly more free power.
What I love about it
- Control: The Wilson Blade 98 16x19 is built to offer high-level players who generate their own power a racquet that helps them place the ball on a dime. During the test period, I was confident to go for small targets and paint the lines because the Blade let me place the ball where I wanted. There was good pocketing on forehands, so I could change direction slightly with subtle wrist movements, and great touch at the net for drop volleys.
- Feel: I really gravitate to racquets with a stiffness rating in the low 60s because they offer a comfortable feel with enough feedback to let me feel the ball on my strings in order to shape my shots. The Blade 98 16x19 has a feel that is very reminiscent of my Gravity MP, but slightly more muted. It still falls right in line with my preferences, and it may come down to string choice and tension that makes up the difference.
- Stability: The Blade 98 16x19 intrigued me because of its 328RDC swingweight, which seems to suit my game well. Racquets in the 325–328 range maintain a good amount of maneuverability while adding the stability I am looking for. This racquet was no exception. I was confident in taking full swings on serve returns against the biggest hitters because the racquet didn’t twist or flutter on me. The same confidence was found when going to the net and reacting to hard-hit passing shots.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Power: The Blade 98 is targeted at players who play aggressively and generate their own power and need a racquet that offers them control to harness that power. While it never claimed to be a powerful racquet, I would have liked just a bit more free power—especially while on the run. When stretched wide, I was never able to get back to neutral in the rally—as my balls ended up landing short.
- Groundstrokes: Off the ground, the Blade 98 16x19 offered a really comfortable feel with good feedback. The moderate swingweight gave it good plowthrough and stability to handle opponents with heavy pace and allowed me to respond with my own power. However, I struggled to generate topspin as effectively as with my Gravity MP throughout the test. On paper, with an open 16x19 string pattern and moderate swingweight, the Blade should have been an ideal match for my swing style; but that was not the case. With a switch to a more wrist-dominated forehand swing and full western grip, I could get spin—but that was at the expense of the stability I liked. Stepping into the ball and flattening it out to hit winners was relatively easy, but I never was able to get the heavy combination of pace and topspin that makes my regular rally ball effective with other racquets.
Favorite moment with this gear
The Wilson Blade 98 V7 16x19 really shined on first serve returns for me. This was something that I have been looking to improve on with my current racquet, and the Blade 98 did just that. It was so smooth and stable against hard serves that I could confidently either take full swings to be aggressive or block the ball back to get into the point. There was no worry about the racquet twisting in my hand leading to a weak return, so I was able to free my mind to choose whatever shot I wanted at that time.
Value for the money vs. other options
Being a previous generation racquet, the Blade 98 16x19 v7 is priced very well. It is $30–60 less than the newer version, Babolat Pure Drive 98 16x19, Yonex EZONE 98, and Head Graphene 360+ Radical MP.
The Wilson Blade 98 16x19 V7 is everything a competitive, aggressive player wants in a racquet. Pinpoint control, great feel, and solid stability against the toughest opponents allowed me to use full, fast strokes and attack the lines with confidence. Two minor drawbacks for me were that I wished for a little more free power from the frame and easier access to spin on groundstrokes. With the right string and tension choice, these nitpicks could be easily remedied.