The general perception among players is that Babolat rackets are primarily great for boosting power and spin, but in fact they make some excellent control-oriented rackets too. This is particularly important for advanced players with a lot of power, who may not need assistance with hitting the ball hard, but who do want a little help with keeping it inside the court.
Control rackets typically have fairly dense stringing patterns, to discourage an excessive ‘trampoline’ effect, and modest-sized heads to support maneuverability. They will not be excessively stiff. So, what are the best Babolat rackets for control?
In general, the 3 Babolat rackets that offer the best control are the Babolat Pure Strike 18×20 3rd Gen, the Babolat Pure Drive VS – the control version of the mighty Pure Drive – and, finally, the Babolat Pure Strike VS 2022.
The Pure Strike 18×20 offers a 98 square-inch head size, and weighs a solid 323g. It has a stiffness rating of 66, putting it close to the middle of the range, and combines a head-light balance with an 18×20 string pattern. The Pure Strike 18×20 is particularly suitable for players who generate high levels of racket-head speed, as it offers a good combination of power and control.
The dense string pattern and compact head help players to reduce inaccuracy. There is another benefit of a dense string pattern for players who are prone to frequent (expensive) string breaks: string life is substantially enhanced. This may not matter to players on the main tours, but for aggressive players at lower levels the saving can be substantial! The swingweight of the racket, measured at 334, probably makes it more suitable for physically stronger players: some female testers have found that the Pure Strike 18×20 feels a little underpowered.
If you want a solid racket which offers a combination of power, spin and precision, the Pure Strike 18×20 may be just what you are looking for,
The Pure Drive is Babolat’s flagship power racket. For those who find it a little too difficult to play accurately with the Pure Drive, Babolat have created the more control-oriented 318g Pure Drive VS . The VS has a reduced 98 square inch head, compared to the 100 square inches of the Pure Drive, which aids maneuverability.
It retains the same head-light balance and open 16×19 stringing pattern, so it will still allow a lot of power and spin to be generated, despite a slightly reduced stiffness rating of 68. The smaller head enhances control, which may be a significant benefit for bigger hitters, given the power produced by the standard Pure Drive. The Pure Drive VS is slightly lighter than the Pure Drive and features a thinner beam, which some reviewers feel affects its stability.
Aggressive baseliners who find that the Pure Drive lacks the control they need will definitely benefit from trying the Pure Drive VS. The power has been toned down a little, but playability is a real strength for the VS.
The Pure Strike VS is another control-oriented member of the Pure Strike family. It is heavier than the Pure Strike 18×20 at 332g, and has a slightly smaller 97 square-inch head. It has a markedly head-light balance for added maneuverability, meaning that it actually has a lower swingweight of 322.
The frame is more flexible than the Pure Strike 18×20 with a Babolat stiffness rating of 63. The Pure Strike VS has an unusual 16×20 string pattern, with the additional cross string contributing to control without substantially reducing power.
Reviewers suggest that, whilst the Pure Strike VS is not as powerful as some other rackets, its precision leads to players having the confidence to attack the ball and possibly therefore hitting even more heavily. Testers gave the racket good scores across the board, with the only real reservations being expressed concerning inconsistency of response across the racket face, which can be addressed by restringing with alternative string at a different tension.
The Pure Strike VS is a racket that offers precision and control along with good all-round performance. It would certainly be worth testing.
Any of these rackets would represent a good choice for an advanced player who would value the confidence that a racket with high levels of control and precision can give. All three are solid performers across the board, so the only real way to decide is to test them all and see which suits you best.