Showing posts sorted by relevance for query hyper-g. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query hyper-g. Sort by date Show all posts

Solinco Hyper-G review

I've now used the Hyper-G for the last couple of seasons in practice and 100+ competitive matches, so I thought a quick long-term review is in order:

I remember at first, I didn't believe the hype. Supposedly Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, and active pros like Sam Querrey, Donald Young were quite excited about the Hyper-G and were using it voluntarily.

Initially, when I tried the string short after its launch, it felt like a mixture of muted and plasticky. After a few more tries later on I started getting used to it, and gave it a go at a clay court season prep tournament. Despite slow, uncomfortable conditions (wet, cold, windy), the string produced good pop and pretty sound all-around results.

Switching back and forth with the Tour Bite for a while, it was apparent that the Hyper-G by couldn't get close to the Bite's grab on the ball, but was much more powerful. Over the years, I've tried stringing up the Tour Bite very loosely to make up for its lack of power, but always felt I had trouble getting the ball through the court.

Also, the Tour Bite reaches a point where it gets tough on the arm - maybe over 22 kgs string bed tension (so ~ >24 kgs pulled). The Hyper-G stiffens up too, but maybe around 1 lbs higher, but does not hurt as much :)

Compared to the average string, the Hyper-G can produce a good amount of spin, so that ended up being the compromise for the last year.

Wilson Pro Staff RF97 with Solinco Hyper-G

The biggest positive surprise came when I picked up Hyper-G racquets that I hadn't used for months. They still played very nicely, subjectively sometimes even better than fresher string jobs. So while I cut out any other poly after 5 hits max, the Hyper-G can probably stay in twice as long. If you don't play as much and/or are not as picky, you might be happy getting it restrung once per season (so 4 times a year).

Bottom line, the Hyper-G is still in my top 3, along with the Cyclone and the Tour Bite. At the end, the orange Cyclone still wins for me since it grabs the ball better. When it comes to matchplay, you trade that off with a quickly degrading life span, both in terms of tension and ball grab. So after 2 competitive matches, it's due for a match-day restring.

How to think about price? Well, depending on the market, there seems to be a ~20 - ~50% premium compared to the Cyclone or comparable strings like the Gamma Moto. Its priced similarly to comparable Tecnifibre strings and the oldie (and for some goldie) RPM Blast... unless you're e.g. in the US. If you intend to keep the Hyper-G in your racquet for a while, your "cost per decent-feeling hit" might come out cheaper than most of the competition.

For more thoughts around strings, click the "string" label below.

You can also dive into my string jobs over the last ~10 years, including ratings and impressions, here.

Völkl Cyclone color comparsion (2018 update)

Opinions seem differ on this, but I found that string color can significantly affect string performance. For example, the Kirschbaum Pro Line 2 feels nice and plush in red, but pretty stiff in black. So how about the Völkl Cyclone, one of the most popular polys out there, and (again) my current string of choice?

In general, the Cyclone has been considered a great half-priced alternative to the (overpriced?) Babolat RPM Blast. You probably came across this post since you appreciate its spin to price ratio, while being pretty well rounded otherwise as well (as opposed to the spin chart topping Ultra Cable, for example).

Ironically, despite making a gear shaped string, that's been on the market for years, while most players have been looking for spin strings... Volkl is still not saying anything in regards to spin on the packaging!

The Cyclone is still available in black, yellow, and orange. Serious players would probably choose by playing characteristics, but then there's also aesthetics, and price.

Between the different colors, I found that prices can differ up to about 30%. So for example, should one just buy the cheapest one?

Volkl Cyclone on Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph in yellow, black, and orange

Here's a quick comparison of playing characteristics of the available colors - but first, the setup:

Racquet: Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph

Tension: 23/22 kgs (~51 / 49 lbs) via a Wise Tension Head, constant pull

Gauge: 1.25mm / 17, which has always been my top choice.

Black Cyclone - Surprisingly the softest of the bunch. Playing-feel-wise, it's probably the most similar to the RPM Blast, even though the Blast is much stiffer. Does not snap back as loudly as the other 2. Seemed like the most powerful too.

Yellow Cyclone - To me, the most generic feeling - I remember nothing really stood out to me. When I tested, it seemed to sit right between the comfort and power of the black and the spin of the orange Cyclone. If you want an allrounder, this might be worth a try.

Orange Cyclone - Most audible snapback, suggesting it's the most spin friendly, and feels like it to. Still appears somewhat plasticky to me, maybe the least powerful of the 3. Combined, that makes it the most predictable, which is why I stuck with orange for a while (and came back to it in 2018 after playing the Hyper-G for a couple of seasons).

Price-wise, around $100 / €100 for a 200m reel seems fair. I've seen some colors offered for as low as €90. In the US, the current market price seems to be ~$120. That's still only half of what the RPM costs over there, however starts to creep up on other popular choices such as the Solinco Tour Bite
or Hyper-G (~ $160). So if I was Völkl I'd probably make sure to keep that gap...

Compared to some of the competition, I'd say less spin but more power and comfort than the Tour Bite, a bit more spin but less pop and worse long-time playability compared to the Hyper-G, and softer playing than the black Moto and certainly the Black Widow.

Finally, quick note that a review and comparison of the V-Torque, V-Torque Tour, and V-Star is next on the list, probably happening sometime later this summer (2018). Also, I had already tried the Cyclone Tour a few times, and found it softer, less spinny, but mostly sucking a bunch of power on impact!

More regarding other stings in this comparison.

If you'd like to dig into the Cyclone topic some more, you can take a look at my 50+ Cyclone stringjobs with ratings and commentary...

What are pro racquets like?

[BETA POST to get the content out there, will build out if there's interest]

Now that we have somewhat of an overview of mainstream racquets, it's probably interesting to compare that to what the pros are playing with.

Most top level pros use frames built upon proven basis, so called "pro stock" frames. Those are then build up to the pro's liking. As a final step, they receive the paint job of a current mainstream racquet that needs endorsement.

That established conduct is quite misleading (unethical?), and *maybe* apart from the RF97, you cannot really buy a racquet similar to what your favorite pro is using. (There's also the underlying question if that racquet would be best for your game...)

So what are pro racquets like, roughly? In summary, they tend to be a lot heavier and a bit more headlight, resulting in a hefty swingweight premium over mainstream racquets. The frames are also significantly softer, i.e. bend much more on impact.

Here are the averages of key properties, based on information I have gathered across the web and from conversations over the years - probably directionally correct:

Male pro racquets / ATP

Weight: ~370 grams, +/-15 (vs. 309 grams across all mainstream)
Balance: ~315 mm, +/- 10 (vs. 334 mm)
Swingweight: ~360 kg cm²  (vs. 317 kg cm²)
Flex: ~60 RDC, +/- 10 (vs. 66) (guestimate, few data points)
Beam width: ~20 mm, +/- 2 (vs. 23.7)

Female pro racquets / WTA

Weight: ~327 grams, +/- ~30 (see averages above)
Balance: ~344 mm, +/- ~25
Swingweight: ~342 kg cm², +/- ~50
Flex: ~60 (guestimate, few data points - might be a bit higher than the men's)

So if you want to get a mainstream frame close to a pro frame without plastering it with tungsten or lead tape, there are not a lot of racquets to choose from. The closest mainstream frames are probably the RF97 (although that one is pretty stiff), or the 330g Yonex VCORE Duel G 97.

You may be able to somewhat emulate the pro racquet feel by building up something like the Prince Tour 95, a heavier Head Prestige (e.g. the Pro), or some of the other thin Yonex beams (e.g. the VCORE Duel G 97 (310g). Prince's old Rebel 95 might have actually been quite close, as it was quite hefty, headlight, and noticeably bent back on impact.

Handles are sometimes customized too, accommodating the pro's hand. Leather grips are still popular. Some pros then add the overgrip in unique fashion - Richard Gasquet for example only wraps it halfway up the handle. The overgrip that seems most noticeably on tour is still the original, light blue Tourna Grip.

Pros also tend to opt for tighter string beds to better control the ball at high speed. The most popular string jobs are hybrids of natural gut and a poly (often a Babolat VS in the mains, and some Luxilon string in the crosses), or a full bed of a firm poly such as the Luxilon Alu Power or the brand's 4G. The Solinco Hyper G is worth a mention too, as Sam Querrey for example chooses to play with the string without getting paid for it.

The softer and heavier frames make these relatively stiff poly strings easier on the arm than a firm and light mainstream racquet would. Due to strings having become stiffer, I would triangulate that the average tension has probably dropped a couple of kg's from 25 to 23 kgs (roughly 51 lbs).

Finally, if you'd like to have a frame built to your preferred (pro's) specs, take a look at Head's and Vantage's offerings.

The "Champions Choice" string job

Just a few lines about the popular (and quite expensive!) "Champions Choice" string job - a hybrid of Wilson's own gut and Luxilon's Alu Power Rough.

Of course Roger made it famous. Like a few other top pros like Novak and Andy, he has the gut put in the mains for power. If you want to prioritize spin, you'd put the Rough there (since the racquet head mostly brushes up on the ball sideways).

I've had a few hits with it, mains in the crosses, and can confirm that it gives a bit of a power premium over a full bed of a poly. Maybe 10-20% based on your poly? Other playing characteristics were alright. Didn't get the impression that it could keep up in spin production with the likes of the Hyper-G, Cyclone, and surely not the Tour Bite.

While these days, you usually cut out polys before they break, the Champions Choice job says goodbye somewhat quickly, especially on surfaces like clay or HarTru. Would give it somewhere in the range of 5-10 hours. So that adds to the expense.

If you'd like to mimic Roger's setup, note that he still uses Power Pads (leather inserts) on the throat grommets and even puts in a few string savers slightly north of the sweet spot...

You can probably save a bit of money and get similar results by buying another proven gut and pair it with the Tour Bite. I read somewhere that Ana played a setup like this for a while.

Personally, I've tried and tried, but putting 2 different strings in a racquet is just not for me! 

Prince TeXtreme Tour 95 review

Took me a while to get hands on this one, but the demo was worth the wait: playing with Prince's 2015-year Tour 95 reminded me a bit of the Wilson Tour 90 - a fun to play, fast, precise, can-do-anything frame.

The TeXtreme material was a very positive surprise to me. Out of the last 100+ racquets I've taken for a spin, I'd put the TeXtreme 95 in the top 3 of "most pleasant hitting sensation".

However, that wand-like feel also comes with a familiar tradeoff for these kinds of racquets: despite the solid mass of ~325 grams strung, I found it tough to put serious weight behind the ball, and to really hit through the court. In other words, the racquet helps create a pleasant game for both you and your opponent :)

One of these days, I'd like to string one up with a Hyper-G or Tour Bite at or slightly below 20 kg. I could see that solving most of the power issue, while keeping control at a sufficient level (partially thanks to the strings' bite). For the Tour Bite, TeXtreme is probably one of the few current materials that could swallow some of that string's harshness.

For now, I'd say if you enjoy constructing points and/or consider the person across the net more of a partner than an opponent, playing with this frame could be a lot of fun. Maybe even hand your opponent the same frame to even the odds?

2018 post update: If you're looking for similarly maneuverable alternatives with more plowthrough, Wilson has re-released a relatively cheap (hoping price only, not material) Six.One 95, although only with an 18 x 20 pattern. I tried it and it plays nicely enough.

The (new) Yonex VCORE PRO 97 (330g) looks like another more hefty option on paper, though I found that it felt quite light in the head. Didn't seem to make much of a plowthrough difference to me, either. Would even recommend taking a loosely-strung 310g version out for a hit.

Not many player sticks left on the market! Maybe try one of the new Srixons?

2018 update: not much more power but also great feel, more flex, and a bigger head with the Phantoms. Also, the Tour line is getting a refresh in January 2019...

The tennis racquet spectrum

These days, it's thankfully easy to look up specs for individual mainstream racquets. One good resource is Tennis Warehouse (RF 97 example), who also offer their Racquet Finder to find racquets within custom ranges.

However, I haven't found a nice overview showing the current spectrum of what you can buy, so I took a first pass at creating one. The below charts are derived from roughly 250 frames that have been on the market over the last couple of years. The list is not comprehensive, but the decent sample size should give us a good idea of how the world of tennis racquets looks like.

Weight & balance (mm)

Graph of tennis racquet weight and balance correlatation

This scatter plot nicely shows the correlation between weight and balance. Generally, the lighter a racquet, the more head-heavily balanced, and the heavier, the more head-light. The general correlation here is that for every increase of 10 grams, the balance point moves down by about 5 mm.

On the heavy, more head-light end we find some classic-spec frames, such as the Wilson SixOne 95 or Roger's RF 97. Fully loaded, the stock RF 97 can come in over 360 grams. The lightest racquet I found on the market is the Donnay Superlite 114 at 238g, which is the outlier in the bottom left. So the spread here is about 120g, or a possible weight increase of up to ~50%.

In regards to balance, the most head light racquets are classic player's sticks like Pete's Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85, the Völkl Power Bridge 10 Mid, and the Vantage BC20, all balanced at around 310mm. At the other end of the spectrum we mostly find game improvement / comfort racquets, such as the Head Titanium Ti.S5 Comfort Zone or Wilson Hyper Hammers, balanced at and even above 385mm. So we're seeing more than a 75mm range, or about 10% of total racquet length.

In the chart, we find the biggest cluster at around 325g and 325mm - probably a proven combo for players who have developed sound technique, and would like a versatile racquet allowing them to hit any shot in their repertoire. Good examples here are the Wilson Burn 95 FST, the Head Prestige Pro, or the Yonex Ezone Ai 98.

There's also a bit of a cluster around 280g and 350mm, where we find racquets such as the Dunlop Biomimetic S 3.0 Lite, the Head Graphene XT Speed REV PRO, and the Wilson Burn 100 ULS. Easy-playing racquets that should help develop more fluid swings and/or get the ball into the court.

Again, the biggest takeaway here is the correlation between weight and balance. The combination of the 2 lead to swing weight:

Swing weight (kg cm²)

Swing weight distribution of tennis racquets on the market

The max value at 412 is the Gamma RZR Bubba. If you look again at the weight / balance scatter plot above, you'll find it out on its own at roughly 300g and 390 mm. This combo leads to the highest swingweight of any mainstream racquet I found.

Min: 282 - Völkl Team Speed Orange, 283g and ~334mm.

Average: 317 (e.g. Babolat Pure Drive, Dunlop Biomimetic F5.0 Tour, Prince Textreme Tour 100T)

Median: 316 (e.g. Yonex Vcore Tour 97 310g, Wilson Steam 105S)

Note: You can even go deeper here by looking at twist weight and recoil weight. Those measures are harder to get and may be more interesting for high end players who also care about optimizing their racquets.

Length (inches)

Length distribution of tennis racquets on the market

The standard length of 27 inches / 68.58cm is still the most popular, represented in ~3/4 of the racquets on the market.

The 27.0 - 27.5 range is somewhat popular too, mostly for game improvement racquets. Examples for 27.5 are the Babolat Pure Drive 110, or the Wilson Blade 104 that could be interesting for two-handers.

Notables in terms of length are the Head Graphene XT Instinct Rev Pro that is a bit shorter at 26.8 inches / 68.07cm, and at the other end again the Gamma RZR Bubba @ 29 inches.

Head size (in²)

Head size distribution of tennis racquets on the market

Max: 137 - again the huge Gamma RZR Bubba.

Min: 85 - that's the Wilson Pro Staff 85 you can still buy today. Followed by more recent frames such as the Yonex VCORE Tour F 93 (=> 93 in²) or the Head Graphene XT Prestige Rev Pro (also 93).

Average: 101 (e.g. Völkl V1 Classic, Donnay Pro One 102, Head Graphene Radical S).

Median: 100, such as the Babolat Pure Drive, Dunlop Biomimetic M 4.0, Head Graphene XT Speed MP A, Wilson Juice 100 / 100 S, Pacific X Fast Pro, the Prince 100 racquets, and many others. Probably the "sweet spot" in terms of head size these days.

Stiffness / flex (RDC)

Flex / stiffness distribution of tennis racquets on the market

Max: 75, e.g. the Asics racquets, such as the 109 or the Head Titanium Ti.S6. The Wilson Juice 100S is up there too, at 74.

Min: 45. Vantage frames come in pretty soft below or around 50. Some of the softer mainstream frames are the Head MicroGEL Radicals (~56), the Donnay Pro One GT 18x20 (57), the Babolat Pure Control 95 (58), or the Wilson Blade 104 at 59.

Related note: Wilson Triad racquets feature gel inserts between the head and handle, resulting in a very low stiffness measures (around 17).

Average: 66 (e.g. Wilson Six One 97 and 97S, Yonex VCORE Tour F 97 (290g), Head Graphene XT Instinct MP.

Median: 67 (e.g. Babolat Pure Strike 16x19 (Project One7), Volkl Super G V1 Midplus, Prince Textreme Warrior 107).

Other racquet properties

... to think of are frame width, string pattern, grommets, and price. So some quick thoughts for now:

Width: 22mm beam width seems is pretty standard these days. More classic frames can be as thin as 18mm (e.g. the Pro Staff 95S or Roger's "old" Tour 90). Donnay made a comeback a few years ago with frames that were 15mm thin in some places. The Asics 125 or the Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.3 Stretch OS come in at 28mm, and the Prince Textreme Premier 120 marks the high end at 30mm.

String pattern: Recently, more open patterns have emerged to promote spin generation - if you see a 16x16 combo, or even less strings in any direction, you've probably found one. Classic patterns like 16x18, 16x19, or 18x20 are probably still the most prominent. PowerAngle racquets are somewhat interesting in this context, since they're strung diagonally.

Grommets: Over the years, many manufacturers have played around with grommets too, mostly aiming to increase the sweet spot. This has been done e.g. by trying to reduce friction, giving the string more room to move, or inserting some elastic material. In the last racquet generation, Wilson drilled the holes parallel into the frame, which seems to have worked well for the SixOne 95 that I had played for a while.

Price: New top brand racquets usually cost around $200, last gen racquets tend to be reduced to around $100, and current discounted or 2nd tier brand racquets are around $150.

So there you go, for now. Maybe this can help you find the right racquet, save some money by buying a previous generation, and push the industry to innovate beyond the usual variables...

Happy to rework or tweak this based on feedback and interest. Cheers!