Tennis Racquets

The Best Beginner Tennis Racquets For 2021

Most manufacturers have a line of racquets targeted at beginners, but should you use them?

If you are new to the world of tennis, it can seem like a pretty daunting task to figure out which racquet to start using. 

Ask for advice from a well-meaning seasoned player, and you will likely be bamboozled with terms like swing weight, frame stiffness, and string pattern.

Other beginners pick up the cheapest racquet they can find and start trying to hit some balls.

That's fine if it's a twice a year hobby, but if you are looking to improve and play more frequently, you will enjoy the sport more if you make a more considered purchase and start with the right equipment.

With this short guide to beginner racquets, I will make the racquet choosing process much simpler for you.

Let's take a look.

What is a Beginner Racquet?

beginner racquets

All the main manufacturers produce a line of what they classify as beginner or game improvement racquets. Wilson make the Triax racquets, Head make the Ti.S6, and Yonex make the Astral line.

While they are all different in cosmetics and ‘technology', they generally share the same characteristics: lightweight, large head sizes and a head heavy balance (more on that below). This makes it easy to play with.

But are they really the racquets that a beginner should be using? The answer here is it depends, and the question you need to answer is what type of beginner you are?

Are you someone who is looking to play a few times a year over the summer and have a bit of fun by whacking a few balls?

If yes, a racquet marketed as a beginner or game improvement frame is the type of racquet you will get the most out of. 

If that is the case, you don't really need to read this guide in full or understand anything about the physics involved; buy a game improvement racquet that catches your eye from my top 5 list below and hit the courts.

I like the Wilson Triad Three, or the Yonex Astrel best, but there is very little to separate them.

My Top 5 Beginner (Game Improvement Racquets)

Remember, the racquets below are purely recommendations for recreational players who will play a handful of times over the summer.

For players looking to go from beginner to intermediate and then to advanced, make sure you read this guide in full.

Racquet Standout Feature  
Wilson Clash 108
wilson clash 108
Arm-friendly CHECK PRICE
Babolat Pure Drive Lite

babolat pure drive lite

Power CHECK PRICE
Yonex Astrel 105

yonex astral 105

Maneuverability CHECK PRICE
Head Titanium Ti.S5

head titanium ti.s5

Bestseller CHECK PRICE
Wilson Triad Three

wilson triad 3

Comfort CHECK PRICE

On the other hand, if you are starting tennis from scratch but have plans to turn it more into a regular hobby, join a club, try to improve your level, play competitively in your local area etc.

Then no, a beginner frame is not something you should be using. We'll go into why that's the case below, and you should read this guide.

Why Beginner Tennis Racquets Are Not Always a Good Idea

Murray Head

If you fall into the category of a beginner who wants to become a competent tennis player who can give anyone a half-decent match, then just about the worst thing you can do is learn tennis with a ‘beginner' frame.

The reason here is that game improvement racquets don't lend themselves to developing correct stroke mechanics or the right technique to hit solid shots on both the backhand and forehand.

By learning to play tennis with a beginner racquet, you end up picking up bad habits.

When it comes to then trying to take your game up a level, you have to re-learn the stroke from scratch.

Therefore it makes sense to start with the right equipment.

It might be harder to swing, find the sweet spot, or generate easy power initially, but if you have a few coaching sessions, alongside some self-learning via Youtube, TopCourt, etc., it becomes a far more rewarding game.

What Specification of Racquet Should Beginners Use?

Rf97 Autograph Specs

If you look at the professional game, the vast majority of tennis players use racquets anywhere between 93-100 sq inches that are head light in balance and weigh anywhere from 300g to 360g unstrung.

So should you copy their specs and play with the racquet Novak Djokovic uses? Not quite. 

The ideal racquet for a beginner lies somewhere between the specs the pros use, aka ‘players frame', and the racquets advertised as ‘beginner frames'.

These are sometimes called tweener racquets, but I usually find that tweener frames have specs that err more towards beginner racquets than a players racquet. I recommend picking racquets that err more towards players frames.

Therefore, for a beginner, I would recommend you pick a racquet that falls in between the following specs:

Male

280-320g unstrung, 5-12 points headlight, 16×19 string pattern, 98-100 sq in head size. Stiffness to personal preference after demoing.

Female

270-310g unstrung, 3-8 points headlight, 16×19 string pattern, 98-105 sq in head size. Stiffness to personal preference after demoing.

My specific racquet recommendations further down the page all fall within these spec ranges.

What Do The Different Specs Mean?

balance board

I've covered the physics behind tennis racquets in much more depth as part of my best tennis racquets guide, but as a quick recap:

Head Size

A tennis racquet's head size is a square inch or centimetre measurement of a racquet’s hoop.

A larger head size makes it somewhat easier to make good contact with the ball and increases your margin for error as the stringbed is larger. This means that it's more stable on off-centre hits.

So should you get the biggest head size possible? No, beyond a certain point, the racquet becomes unwieldy and hard to manoeuvre.

As a beginner seeking competence, as we discussed above, I recommend a minimum of 98 square inches and a maximum of 100 square inches (maybe 105 for some players).

Weight

A racquet's weight is the static weight when you put it on a set of weighing scales.

Generally, retailers express a racquet's weight as the strung weight (when it has strings), whereas manufacturers provide the unstrung (without strings) specs.

Weight is the most defining characteristic of a tennis racquet, and most beginners are often told to buy a light racquet as this will give them more power. But this is false.

The heavier the racquet, the more powerful it is. All other things being equal.

Just like head size, though, beyond a certain point, the weight becomes too much to handle, and you won't be able to swing the racquet fast enough, for long enough.

I recommend a male choosing a racquet between 280g – 320g unstrung (or 295g – 340g strung) and a female choosing 270-310g unstrung (285g -330g strung).

A question I get asked often is which weight is best for me? My answer is never about technical ability; it's all down to your physical conditioning.

The ideal racquet weight for a player is the heaviest racquet they can swing equally well on all planes of contact (e.g. high balls, when at full stretch) for the duration they intend to play for. It's no good being able to smoke winners for 10 minutes but then get fatigued.

That 280g – 320g range is what most adult males can handle comfortably. The best thing to do would be to demo a couple of racquets that fall within those specs and see how they feel. 

Remember, it's much easier to add weight to a racquet than to take it away, so even if you feel like you can handle a lot more weight, I wouldn't deviate too far away from the top end of my recommendation. 

Balance

Racquets are either head light (HL), head-heavy (HH), or equal balance (EB), which represents the distribution of weight in the racquet. The figures are either given in a points-based system, e.g. 4 PTS HL or in mm or cm, e.g. 31.2cm balance.

Head light means more weight is towards the frame's handle and thus makes it easier to swing. Think of an axe when chopping wood – swing it the normal way and then hold it at the blade end and swing. 

Virtually every pro on the ATP tour uses a head light balanced frame, and this is one area where you should copy them.

Head heavy does offer more power, but it places far more torque on the wrist, elbow and shoulder. So when choosing your first racquet, make sure it's head light.

Swingweight

This is a measurement of how heavy a tennis racquet feels when swinging it and is a useful metric for comparing one racquet to another. It's given as a decimal figure such as 343.

The swing weight is closely tied to the balance as the further away the weight is from the handle, the higher the swing weight becomes.

For example, you might see a racquet with a static weight of 350g, but because that weight is distributed towards the head, it's swing weight is 360g.

When looking at racquet specs, I'd recommend looking first at the head light or head heavy figure quoted, and then if you have two closely matched racquets, compare the swing weights.

Stiffness

A stiffness or RA rating represents the amount of flex a tennis racquet has. It is given as a numeric value, i.e., 67. 

The stiffer a racquet, the more power or energy will be returned to the ball, while a frame with higher flex will result in less power and subsequently more control for a player.

Personally, stiffness is not a huge area to focus on, and much of it boils down to personal preference. The general consensus is that a stiffer frame is harsher on the arm but this isn't clear cut.

I've spoken to plenty of high-level club players before that say a racquet feels so stiff, yet it is one of the softest on the RA scale, while others have told me a racquet at 70RA has lots of flex and is super comfy. 

String Pattern

The string pattern of a tennis racquet refers to the number of main or vertical and cross strings.

The most common are 16×19, an open string pattern (more spaces between the strings) and 18×20, a more closed string pattern.

An open string pattern tends to increase power and spin, while a denser string pattern typically provides more control.

For a beginner, I recommend 16 x 19 due to the enhanced spin potential. 

What About Grip Size?

racquet grip sizes

When you buy a tennis racquet, you’ll have the option to select a grip size, which is a measurement of the circumference of the handle. They come in the following sizes:

US Sizes European Sizes
4 inches 0
4 1/8 inches 1
4 1/4 inches 2
4 3/8 inches 3
4 1/2 inches 4
4 5/8 inches 5
4 3/4 inches 6

To measure your grip size, this guide from Tennis Warehouse is all you need:

If in doubt, or you feel like you fall in between two grip sizes, go for the smaller grip, as it's easier to make a grip bigger than it is to make it smaller.

Does String Matter For Beginners?

String Tension Choice

Another piece to add to the already complex puzzle is the type of tennis string you use in the racquet.

Rather than go into the various strings available and their characteristics. I'd recommend choosing one of the following strings:

All five of those strings an ideal starting point for anyone learning the game. Plenty of advanced players use those strings as well, so they're not beginner strings per se, but they are soft, arm friendly, durable and won't break the bank.

If you pick one of the racquets I've highlighted below, it will come to you unstrung. However, most retailers have the option to pick a string, and they'll string it for you before it ships.

Choose one of the strings above at the mid-range tension the racquet manufacturers suggest. E.g. if they say the racquet should be strung between 50-60lbs, do it at 55lbs.

If you purchase from a physical retail store, they'll usually offer a cheap string as part of the package, such as Prince Synthetic Gut. I'd get your bartering hat and ask them to use one of the above strings instead to sweeten the deal.

My Top 8 Beginner Racquets for 2021

Babolat Pure Drive 6 Pack Bag

Below are my top 8 picks for beginner racquets that you should consider if you're taking up tennis this year. I've purposely picked racquets that are readily available across the globe. As a result, most of them are the latest models and carry a higher price tag.

If you can find the previous iteration of the racquet I recommend, e.g. the previous generation Pure Drive and not the 2021 model, I would recommend you go for that. You'll be getting a cheaper product that's not hugely different.

So do hunt around in the clearance section online or at your local store if you are one of the few places left that are lucky enough to have brick and mortar stores.

I haven't linked to any sale products online as they're here today, gone tomorrow, but if you find a racquet on sale and want my thoughts, leave a comment below, and I will get back to you.

Quick Comparison

The racquets are in no particular order, and they are all very similar in specs.

Racquet Strung Weight Headsize  
Babolat Pure Drive 2021

babolat pure drive

11.2oz / 318g 100 in² / 645.16 cm² CHECK PRICE
Wilson Burn 100 v4

wilson burn 100 v4

11.2oz / 318g 100 in² / 645.16 cm² CHECK PRICE
Yonex EZONE 100

yonex ezone 100

11.2oz / 318g 100 in² / 645.16 cm² CHECK PRICE
Babolat Pure Aero

pure aero

11.2oz / 318g 100 in² / 645.16 cm² CHECK PRICE
Prince Ripstick 100 300g

ripstick 100

11.2oz / 318g 100 in² / 645.16 cm² CHECK PRICE
Head Gravity S 2021

head gravity s

10.6oz / 301g 104 in² / 670.97 cm² CHECK PRICE
Wilson Pro Staff 97L v13

prostaff 97l

10.8oz / 306g 97 in² / 625.81 cm² CHECK PRICE
Dunlop CX 400

dunlop cx400

10.7oz / 303g 100 in² / 645.16 cm² CHECK PRICE

Let's take a closer look at my top eight beginner frames for 2021.

It's also worth noting that all the racquets have alternatives within the lineup to suit different preferences.

For example, if you like the Pure Drive look but feel like you're not a naturally athletic or coordinated person, there's a Pure Drive 107, which has a 107 square inch head size making it easier to make good contact with the ball. 

Are you a slightly built female? Then there's a Pure Drive Lite which is a lighter weight version and easier to swing.

Babolat Pure Drive 2021

Babolat Pure Drive

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The Pure Drive is one of the best selling racquets of all time and it's a frame that you will find all level of a player using from weekend warrior through to ATP touring pro.

In most of my racquet reviews on this site, I've discussed feel, how muted it might be, launch angle, weight distribution, string spacing etc., but for someone just starting the game, I'm not sure if those characteristics will be understood or useful to you.

Instead, I'll say why each racquet is good for a beginner, and the Pure Drive 2021 fits the bill because it's easy to play with. At 100 square inch, it's forgiving, offers plenty of power, and it sits nicely in the middle between game improvement racquet and traditional players frame.

Why It's On My List

  • Easy to play with for all manner of game styles
  • Great cosmetics
  • Provides plenty of power

Pure Drive 2021 Strung Specifications

Head Size 100 in² / 645.16 cm²
Length 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight 11.2oz / 318g
Balance 12.99in / 32.99cm / 4 pts HL
Swingweight 320 kg/cm²
Stiffness 71
Beam Width 23mm / 26mm / 23mm
Composition Graphite
Racquet Colors Blue
Grip Type Babolat Syntec Pro
String Pattern 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension 50-59 pounds

Wilson Burn 100 v4

Wilson Clash 100

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The Wilson Burn 100 v4 has one of the higher swingweights of the racquets on this list and it's targeted at players who hit a heavy ball from the baseline.

I was torn between including this or the Wilson Clash 100 but I chose the Burn as the Clash is more of a marmite racquet, you get people who love it, but others who think it's the worst racquet ever made.

Whereas the Burn 100 is a no-nonsense frame and is somewhat similar to the Pure Drive which is also on this list. So expect good power and lots of spin.

Why It's On My List

  • Similar to the Pure Drive but with a lower price tag
  • It offers good stability despite its weight (this is useful if your opponents hit a heavy ball)
  • High-ish swing weight so offers good plough through the ball

Wilson Burn 100 v4 Strung Specification

Head Size 100 in² / 645.16 cm²
Length 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight 11.2oz / 318g
Balance 13.1in / 33.27cm / 3 pts HL
Swingweight 328 kg/cm²
Stiffness 71
Beam Width 23.5mm / 25mm / 23.5mm
Grip Type Wilson Pro Performance
String Pattern 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension 50-60 pounds

Yonex EZONE 100

yonex ezone 100

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I've long been a fan of the Yonex Ezone 98 racquet, and it's a continual pick in my best racquets of the year roundups. The Ezone 100 is it's ever so slightly bigger brother and just a tad easier to play with.

Why do I like it for a beginner? Once you develop your technique, this frame offers a great blend of power, spin and control. If it's not your first ever racquet, the isometric head shape does take a bit of getting used to, but I'm seeing more and more players switch over to Yonex frames and stick with them as they are such good all-rounders.

Why It's On My List

  • Easy to swing fast and generate power + spin
  • Yonex makes high-quality racquets – the paint quality is second to none.
  • Vibration Dampening Mesh eases vibrations felt in the arm

Yonex Ezone 100 Strung Specification

Head Size 100 in² / 645.16 cm²
Length 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight 11.2oz / 318g
Balance 13in / 33.02cm / 4 pts HL
Swingweight 322 kg/cm²
Stiffness 69
Beam Width 23.5mm / 26mm / 22mm
Grip Type Yonex Synthetic
String Pattern 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension 45-60 pounds

Babolat Pure Aero

babolat pure aero

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One of the best selling racquets out there, thanks of course to Rafael Nadal. Like the Pure Drive, the Pure Aero is a racquet you will see players of all abilities using.

Whereas the Pure Drive is marketed more as a power frame, the Pure Aero is the lineup's spin-friendly frame. Its aerodynamic design and FSI string spacing are all done to make topspin generation the order of the day.

Assuming you will get a bit of coaching and learn to generate topspin, this racquet, combined with the right technique, will help you get plenty of RPM's on the ball.

Why It's On My List

  • It cuts through the air, allowing you to whip the ball.
  • Mid-range swing weight means it's easy to swing but still stable when required.
  • If you take some lessons and learn topspin, you'll enjoy this racquet

Babolat Pure Aero Strung Specification

Head Size 100 in² / 645.16 cm²
Length 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight 11.2oz / 318g
Balance 12.99in / 32.99cm / 4 pts HL
Swingweight 324 kg/cm²
Stiffness 67
Beam Width 23mm / 26mm / 23mm
Grip Type Babolat Syntec Pro
String Pattern 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension 50-59 pounds

Prince Ripstick 100 300g

prince ripstick

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The Prince Ripstick is new for 2021 and after watching Tennis Nerd's first impressions video I thought it'd be a good addition to the list.

It's a very funky design and is similar in attributes to the Pure Aero, so to get the most out of this racquet, you need to be a beginner with a view to becoming an intermediate who plays with topspin.

The frame has O ports which is a different grommet design and are done to aid comfort and cause the strings to move more, which aids spin generation. 

I put this one in the list because this racquet is going to be fun to play with, it has a fairly thick beam, and for a player who wants to go out there and try to hit the felt off the ball, the Ripstick (perhaps the clue is in the name) will help you do that.

Why It's On My List

  • Quite beefy specs so plenty of power
  • Open string pattern so offers a ton of spin
  • O-port design helps with its arm friendliness

Prince Ripstick 100 Strung Specification

Head Size 100 in² / 645.16 cm²
Length 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight 11.2oz / 318g
Balance 13in / 33.02cm / 4 pts HL
Swingweight 325 kg/cm²
Stiffness 64
Beam Width 27mm / 25.5mm / 22mm
Grip Type Prince ResiTex Pro
String Pattern 16 Mains / 18 Crosses
String Tension 50-60 pounds

Head Gravity S 2021

head gravity s 2021

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The Head Gravity S packs a 104 square inch head size which is the largest on this list, so this frame delivers slightly more power and forgiveness than my other selections.

For all you racquet nerds, yes, I know a larger head size ≠ more power but for the sake of this post, let's keep it simple. 😁

Beginners will be able to make good use of this frame due to the sub 310 swing weight, allowing them to generate plenty of pace on the swing, translating into both power and spin.

It's also a relatively low 61RA on the stiffness charts, giving it a more arm-friendly feel than many other racquets in this spec range.

Why It's On My List

  • Arm friendly
  • Low-ish swing weight so easy for a lot of different builds and physiques to swing
  • Larger head size offers more forgiveness on off centre hits

Head Gravity S Strung Specification

Head Size 104 in² / 670.97 cm²
Length 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight 10.6oz / 301g
Balance 13.18in / 33.48cm / 3 pts HL
Swingweight 307 kg/cm²
Stiffness 61
Beam Width 24mm / 24mm / 24mm
Grip Type Head Hydrosorb Pro
String Pattern 16 Mains / 20 Crosses
String Tension 48-57 pounds

Wilson Pro Staff 97L v13

wilson pro staff 97ls

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I reviewed the standard Pro Staff 97 V13 last year and this is the lighter or L version which shaves a few grams off the static weight.

Despite the lighter weight which makes it easier to swing fast, it's still a racquet that can provide control thanks to a slightly denser string pattern.

Whereas the Pure Aero and Ripstick are more spin generation racquets, this is more for a player looking for precision on their shots and playing more of a flatter game.

I like the Pro Staff line for beginner's as they require the user to learn to swing, not just pat the ball back. You have to do the work to get the ball where you want it.

Why It's On My List

  • Very nice cosmetics
  • A lighter ‘players' type racquet
  • Still has the classic Pro Staff control and stability despite being 280g unstrung

Wilson Pro Staff 97L Strung Specification

Head Size 97 in² / 625.81 cm²
Length 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight 10.8oz / 306g
Balance 13.12in / 33.32cm / 3 pts HL
Swingweight 311 kg/cm²
Stiffness 69
Beam Width 23.5mm / 23.5mm / 23.5mm
Grip Type Wilson Pro Performance
String Pattern 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension 50-60 pounds

Dunlop CX 400

dunlop cx 400

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The final racquet on my list is the Dunlop CX 400 and this a light and versatile racquet that suits players of all abilities.

As I said in the intro, I've selected ‘tweener' racquets in this list but focused on ones that err more towards players racquets, and the CX 400 fit's into that ballpark.

While it has less plough through and stability than some of the slightly heavier frames in this list, it still managed to keep some of the characteristics usually only found in a heavier player's racquets. 

Why It's On My List

  • Easy to swing
  • A lighter ‘players' type racquet
  • Great manoeuvrability, good power, easy spin

Dunlop CX 400 Strung Specification

Head Size 100 in² / 645.16 cm²
Length 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight 10.7oz / 303g
Balance 13.38in / 33.99cm / 1 pts HL
Swingweight 319 kg/cm²
Stiffness 71
Beam Width 24.5mm / 24.5mm / 24.5mm
Grip Type Dunlop Synthetic
String Pattern 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension 40-60 pounds

Frequently Asked Questions

Your theory is contrarian; most guides tell beginners to get light, large head size racquets?

If you want to step on the court and hit the ball without any real focus on where it lands or how it traverses the net, I would agree with the advice to buy a super light racquet with a big head size for $75. 

However, I am basing my advice on getting the most out of your game and improving over time.

My theory is that if you gave 10 players a wooden racquet from the 1970s and 10 players a Gamma RZR Bubba 137, all of whom had never played the game before, then I have no doubt that after a little bit of coaching the players using the Gamma would get a rally going quicker and make more balls in play, but the players using the wooden racquets would develop a better technique over time.

Match them up against each other a year down the line and assuming everything else was equal, the players who started with the wooden frames would wipe the floor with the other group.

So it really depends on what you want, instant gratification? Follow conventional wisdom. Want to play better? Follow mine 😉

When should I buy a racquet?

If planning on getting some coaching, I would recommend doing a few sessions with a loaner racquet first and asking your coach for some racquet recommendations. You can note the eight I recommend and ask your coach, which one would best suit your game.

Should I demo a racquet first?

I typically recommend demoing a racquet before you buy, but if you're an outright beginner it might be hard to discern between different racquets or really know what you like.

The eight racquets I've picked above were selected because you could put any one of them in the hands of a player, and they would be able to play with it.

What weight racquet should I get?

The weight of racquet that will work best for your game does not depend on your ability, it's depends on your physical conditioning. 

I covered this in the weight section above, but the ideal racquet weight for a player is the heaviest racquet they can swing equally well on all planes of contact (e.g. high balls, when at full stretch) for the duration they intend to play for. 

For the vast majority of people, I recommend a male choosing a racquet between 280g – 320g unstrung (or 295g – 340g strung) and a female choosing 270-310g unstrung (285g -330g strung).

In your early twenties and able to bench press your girlfriend? Then you can probably use a heavier weight racquet. Struggle to lift a full mug of tea without your arms shaking? You probably need to go lighter.

One thing to note is that it's easier to make a racquet heavier than it is to make it lighter. So even if you're feeling like the Incredible Hulk, don't go buying the RF97 off the bat, you can always use lead tape at a later date, but that's another blog post for another day.

So there you have it, my guide on picking a tennis racquet if you're a beginner. I've done my best to explain everything but if you have questions, are unsure about terminology, leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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39 Comments

  1. What about Best Racquets For 40+ Pro Players, Jon? 40 is a critical age for men. Generally in life. Maybe in tennis too? Which racquet can help if you have no chance anymore to move like before?
    BTW – I think, it’s not a good concept for Fed to go back (!) to training for a long time again instead of playing. What have done some other top players in similar situations (Murray,Nishikori, Wawrinka)? They did start the comeback playing Challengers. Would it not better for Fed to play Challengers but so many matches possible, than to try in high level ATP tournaments and lose in first or second round?
    In all those comparable cases the way back was quite long. Even if all these players are a lot younger.
    Con you imagine Federer have a 2-3 year comeback, meanwhile falling deep in the ranking (of course getting WC everywhere, but not seeded anymore? I’m not optimistic about Federer’s comeback. Doha was actually setback, not comeback. Evans-match was … tricky in the sense, Fed played his paid hitting partner. Basilashvili is lower ranked but it made the difference, he was not a paid servant.
    There are more and more hard hitting players coming and if he starts to lose to guys ranked 50-150, what then?

    1. A 40-year-old can use a racquet that a 20-year-old can use no problem.

      You can move like you can before at that age, in fact, there is very little drop-off in that regard. The drop off is the recovery time, so while the 20-year-old can recover to move great the next day, the older player cannot recover as quickly.

      Murray played 1 challenger purely because he was barred from the AO. Since then he’s snapped up every wildcard going. Maybe Thiem should enter a few challengers after his setback in Doha and Dubai? 😁

      Not sure I buy Doha being a setback. He hasn’t played in a year and got six sets in, winning one match. Basilashvili has 4 career titles now, Evans has 1.

      I think if you swapped the matches around, Fed would have beaten Basilashvili, then lost to Evans. Assuming the first match was a tough three-setter.

      Whether he can reach the heights of yesteryear remains to be seen, but Doha neither proves nor disproves it. It just showed he is able to step on the court and play a match, the more that happens, the more it will reveal. So maybe playing smaller events would be a good idea, but I guess he feels like he needs more focused training to make sure he can sustain play.

      1. Andy did play a challenger on his first comeback in 2019.
        Thiem? Why not, if it fits into his recovery schedule?
        I don’t know exactly, what’s his problem now, but I assume, he missed off-season prep or the prep was not good enough (for different reasons) and was not recovering well. He could not recover after Kyrgios match in Australia and then his (excellent) match vs. Agut in Doha was meant as the last match there, knowing he would not recover for the next one. In Dubai he had not even so much in the tank plus some (according to him) minor physical issues, to win the first match. He was actually dead in this one (but Harris played his best).
        Maybe you are right about Basilashvili Evans swap. All in all, Fed was ready for one match, so maybe not expecting more. He didn’t look well in the second – looked ill and tired.
        I don’t want to say, I know better than him, what can happen in the near future.
        Playing challengers was a joke – I can’t imagine Fed playing a challenger anytime in the future (but maybe some have more atmosphere than Rotterdam and Dubai so far and probably many more coming up. This is a huge factor for a player with his character.
        Well, we cannot know better than him. Probably he decided to play Doha&Dubai (than minus Dubai) to know where he is with his competitive play. Now he knows and has a good team to decide, what’s now better for him to have a chance for big titles. Taking WC’s all over the season or simply losing early every tournament cannot be his goal. What he decides, if it goes this way in next tournaments, who knows? For different (good) reasons he cannot make a 2-3 years comeback like Stan did or Andy is trying, but with no success. I have seen Andy playing Rublev in Doha and he was quite good in the first set. The tank is still half-empty and after a good game in first set (he was going to win it but lost), it’s over.
        BTW – Fed and Thiem could play a Challenger together, so they could play another final 😉

      2. I figure Thiem has some sort of injury, not a huge one but enough to knock is level down a tad. Anyway, clay is his goal, see how he goes when that kicks off in Mickey Carlo.

      3. Some injury is for sure on the line. Something in the foot. Now he wants to make an MRI, but the injury must be quite old. Just typical for him (like for Fed) to not tell anybody, including Massú and Stober until it gets really wrong.
        I suspect some other factors, including mental and first of all bad physical preparation before the season. This is inborn. In junior years he had an infection with Campylobacter. He didn’t tell even the father, fearing, he would need to stop to hit yellow ball. This ended after a year, when he was barely walking and decided to tell his family doctor. Then after some short cure it was over in a few weeks. The same in many other cases. He is generally intelectually quite matured and a serious guy (relaxed at the same time). I think, they are both (with Fed) somehow from the same clay 😉

  2. John – your advice needed. I am right now 32 years young😆 never played tennis before even though closely following it for more than 15 years. Plays badminton as a recreation. Not well muscle built at shoulders and arms😄and from India. Is it the right age to start playing tennis first time? Needless to say, if I play, will be employing single handed back hand only😄

      1. Ok, I don’t know a whole lot about where is best to buy in India but just looking now at tennishub.in.

        They have quite a lot to choose from in the sale section on that site that would be a good frame. Vcore 100 280g, Wilson Burn 100s, Ezone 100…

  3. What do you think about today’s Dubai final? No Fed. No Thiem. Even no Rublev. I think, both are heavy dopers. WADA probably disabled by pandemic.
    Karatsev has a bodybuild of a weight lifters – look his calves and upperbody.
    Good times for dopers. We will get more of that, I guess,

    1. I think Karatsev will win.

      Yeah, he is a stocky build. I guess the doping accusations will come thick and fast considering his rise happening so fast.

      Although he does have a very good backhand and gives up little ground on the baseline which is impressive.

      1. Yes, it is impressive. But look his career evidence. If someone starts to reach challenger finals at 26/27 (in 2020 (a year, I assume, WADA was disabled) after years of,playing under the Challenger level and then all of a sudden can reach GS SF and win ATP500. looks this to be clean? Simply not explainable explosion of tzalent? @DrEvil did remind here on Mariano Puerta. But such cases are only the pick of the iceberg. The time for such things (especially in Russia with it’s systemic doping) is perfect: WADA disabled, top guys frustrated about pandemic conditions (quarantines, no crowd).
        So how do you make a 27 years old outsider to top player during the pandemic year?
        Yes, I know, regular college or challenger players can be tricky for classic tennis players, because not having high skills, they use lot of tricks.
        But this is not the case for Karatsev. His only trick is to take the ball earlier (than Rublev) and hit winners or hit it back without missing. If this is so easy, why were/are so many stiupid guys (including Federer, Nadal, Thiem) work so hard to win their maiden slam just at 27 after having worked hard (and still working hard) over 20 years, with a trop coach a.s.o.
        I tend to not belief things, which have no logical explanation.
        There are hundreds of players with Karatsev’s potential, potentially able to show similar explosions and the classic tennis is over.
        Karatsev is Thiem’s agemate and Thiem says, they have player each other in juniors and adds, that Aslan has made a big progress during last year. Why not me or you?
        Karatsev is a killer. Once my tennis instructor told me, the power of the shot starts in legs. Compare Karatsev’s legs with any other player, including so muscular Nadal. Even Nadal must create the power of the shot with technical hand skills.

  4. @PRF
    Thanks bro for quoting me.
    I fully agree to your theory, it’s as simple as that.
    Btw from that point of view even Stan the Man and Kevin Anderson should be under suspicion, right ? Late mover to the top….

  5. @DrEvil
    Nice, we finally could find somemmon language 🙂
    Stan and Kevin – not really. Stan made Top100 for the first time in 2005 being 20 years old, He needed 7 years to make Top20 (just at the age Karatsev has today). So he didn’t com from nowhere to make SF of a Slam or win ATP500. Yes, he was late bloomer catching his best form 2014-2016, just before the big injury. No, Stan is a perfectly regular career of a talented and hard working guy, but always living in a shadow of the Big Maestro, which could have had negative impact on his confidence.
    Kevin? Sorry, I’ not keen to watch/follow Big Boys – they are spoiling tennis and should be banned to play in their own tennis circus 🙁
    Best
    PRF

  6. Hi,

    I am about to begin my very first step into the tennis world. Consider me a blank sheet.

    Badminton is my main sport. Plays 5 times a week. Venturing into tennis so that i can also play with my tennis friends.

    I was recommended the ezone100 and clash100 to start. I will be getting lessons to fast track my progress rather than a trial and error approach. I am leaning more towards the yonex as the quality of their made-in-japan rackets are top notch.

    Between the 2, which will be a more forgiving racket to play with?

    1. Hi,

      Cool. Can you demo them or know anyone who has either model that you can test before buying?

      I think if you asked 10 people, 5 would say Ezone 100, 5 would say Clash 😀 so there’s no right or wrong pick. I believe most coaches would be happy to see a student with either of those frames.

      I’d probably go with Yonex here too though as I prefer that frame.

      1. Hello,

        I am in this exact situation. I used to play in a club 18 years ago and I am now back to the game. I would like to buy something decent that I can handle now and that I can also grow with.

        I am 34 and just joined a tennis club that has artificial grass. I am planning to play 2-3 times a week.

        I have been demoying a few racquets, 5 already and would like to try more.

        The one I have liked the most so far is the Babolat Pure drive which you have on the list but I find it a bit heavy. Maybe because I need to get used to it or maybe because my wrist is not too strong? My wrist used to hurt a bit when I played back when a teenager…
        I like this pure drive feeling of power but I might need to control it a bit more.

        That’s why I was thinking on the Babolat Pure Strike 100, do you reckon it could be a good option for me in terms of being a good racquet to start with or not that beginner friendly? What about the same racquet but with 98 head? Any of these 2 would be better for my wrist than the Pure Drive?

        The other one I was thinking of is the Wilson Clash 100. You mentioned above the burn 100 might be better than the Clash 100… question with this clash would be how would it be with my wrist? Might be a good option when looking for more control this Clash 100?

        Thanks,

        Omar

      2. Hi,

        Thanks for the comment.

        The Pure Strike 100 is a good racquet to start playing with yes, it is a lighter ‘players’ frame. A bit lighter than the Pure Drive and more headlight, so you’ll need to generate your own pace and develop good technique. The Pure Strike 98 is heavier than the Pure Drive, so you’d be better of with the 100 if you found the Pure Drive too heavy. You can always add weight to the Pure Strike 100 down the road if you needed to.

        The Clash 100 is very popular, I find it to be a bit of a marmite racquet as people either love it or hate it. But it’s been the top seller in a lot of places for the last 2 years so more players clearly like it than not.

        As for which is better for your wrist, it’s tricky to say. I think most would say the Clash will be more arm friendly due to its flex, but it’s very much horses for courses when it comes to comfort. Demo both of them and see?

  7. Hello,

    Ok, thanks for your answer.

    I will try to demo those and see how it goes… although I am afraid the shop that I am using for demoying might not have both to demo.

    Any other suggestions that I could take as per wrist friendly?

    Thanks

  8. Hi jonathan. I started playing tennis like 4 months ago. I have the Babolat Pure Aero 2020 but i dont like it. i had a wilson burn v2 and it was better, but it wasnt my favourite. i dislike the pure aero because i feel like is too stiff and hard to manouver, plus i make a lot of unforced errors with it. wich racket do you recommend? i really like the regular pro staff or the blade 98. but everyone says it’s for advanced players.
    i am 1,81 meters tall and weight like 62 kg. It’s hard for me sometimes to generate my own power, but mostly bc i feel it’s going to be long.
    sorry for my bad english, i am from argentina and thank in advance. hope you can answer.

    1. Hi,

      Are you able to demo any racquets in your city/town in Argentina?

      I would maybe try a Wilson Clash…

      How often are you playing? Are you getting any coaching?

      Cheers.

  9. What do you think of the yonex astrel 100 for a fit adult male new to tennis and wants something he can quickly improve his game with. Seems similar to the ezone 100 with just a smidge less weight. It’s. Very intriguing racquet that I will try to demo and compare against the ezone 100.

  10. Great article! I picked up tennis last year and am using the Head Titanium Ti S6 racket. I am at improver level and looking to upgrade my racket. I’ve been looking at the Wilson clash 100 (295gm) and Wilson clash 100L (280gm). Which of these two would you recommend? Would 15gm extra on the 100 make a big diff?

    For context, I’m 37 male and 5’9 (athletic build)

    1. Hey,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Cool, can you demo any of them?

      I think moving from a Ti S6 to any type of ‘player’ frame is quite a big change but how big a one depends on how you generate your shots/style of play.

      I would demo the Clash 100 and see if you like it, I don’t think the weight will be a problem at all.

      Have you taken any coaching? You could always ask the coach for other recommendations…

      1. Thank you for your quick response.

        Not sure where I could demo the racket – I am based in London and tried doing a quick search and couldn’t find anywhere near me that offers racket demo.

        One of the guys I play with just got the Clash 100L yesterday and I held the racket – its got a good feel to it and i could notice the increase in weight when comparing to the Ti S6.

        I was particularly drawn to the Clash 100 Roland Garros version and was wondering whether the extra 15gm vs the 100L would be an issue given I’m coming from using a 225gm Ti S6.

        I only picked up tennis last year and took some casual coaching but with on and off extended lockdowns, wasn’t able to consistently carry on with the coaching so was practising regularly with others at a similar level instead.

      2. I think Tennis Nuts have a demo program, they have a shop just outside London.

        Also, Wimbledon Park Sports at Southfields have demos too. So I would definitely test before buying….

  11. Hi Jonathan, thank you very much for the useful article. I am a beginner and started playing some tennis since last year to give some practice to my 8 year old who has been learning tennis for past couple of years! I started Head Ti S6 racquet and it was great until now as I was mainly playing with Orange ball with my son. Now I am trying to play with my friends with yellow (regular) balls I feel this racquet may not be right for it. So looking to buy a new one – probably Head or Wilson from your list as I would like bit lighter racquet. Could you please help with the ‘tension’, what tension can I use to start improving my game with yellow ball?

    1. Hi,

      I would not recommend getting a lighter frame, the Ti S6 is only 252g. This is very light. But it’s head heavy which is probably why you feel the weight as it’s harder to swing. I think this racquet is fine for recreational level who just play a few times a year.

      But if you were looking to improve, I would get a headlight frame around 300-310g strung. My top 8 list is a good starting point. Clash 100, Pure Drive, Burn, Head Gravity S etc. Combine that with some coaching (or just try some Youtube learning), and you should be able to improve quite a bit.

      Tension – this is not something to worry about. Get your racquet strung with a synthetic gut or multifilament string at the mid-range recommended for the racquet and then play some more.

  12. The best setup for anyone who is well below the pro level is a flexible heavy headlight classic beam non-widebody with neither a dense nor open string pattern in 90-95 sq in. Beginners and intermediates need smaller racquet heads and more weight to stabilize their shots and force them to use better timing and mechanics. Male and female is irrelevant. Racquet stiffness is important. Too-stiff racquets have more drawbacks than benefits.

    Look at how hard Graf and McEnroe could play with the Dunlop 200G (a noodle by today’s mass-market stiffness numbers). No amateurs need to hit much harder than that to hang with anyone near their division level. Graf never hit a better forehand with the stiffer lighter bigger racquets she switched to.

    People also tend to play with grips that are too small these days, especially since men no longer can get size 6.

    Venus had the heaviest frame at Wimbledon and Roddick one of the lightest. Kids and old people used to use 12-13 oz wood racquets. These 10 oz featherlights with oversize heads are definitely suboptimal. Great for damaging the wrist and not developing good form, especially for volleys. No idea, really, how Roddick managed to play with a featherlight but I strongly recommend against it.

    The string should be Ashaway Zyex Monogut. It’s simply the best synthetic on the market. Zyex has gut-like dynamic stiffness. The hyped synthetic strings (mostly nylon) are big solely because of marketing money. They pale in comparison with pure Zyex. Pros can use poly and endure the pain and injuries but amateurs should avoid it.

    The power will come from the racquet weight and the slingshot strings. Better safety for the body and more control. I have played with super-oversize frames and won 6-0 6-0 and the Wilson T-2000 and won 6-0 6-0 in doubles. I’ve played matches with a wide variety of designs. There is nothing better than the solid reliability of a heavy flexible midsize with the Zyex for ball speed. After playing with huge and tiny heads a midsize becomes clearly where it’s just right (midplus for heavier topspin hitters — so around 95).

    That stiff granny stick caused my first and only wrist injury. I use a 90 sq in flexible 100% graphite frame from 1983 rated medium weight (can’t get that anymore) with the Zyex and had my best seasons yet. Oversize frames are harder to control, not easier. It’s much harder to predict how the ball will launch off the larger string bed, even with a Kevlar hybrid setup (not recommended at all). They’re like the way diet soda causes weight gain. Just say no to granny frames until you’re in your 60s or so. I have seen many elders play very well with WEED 135 sq in frames but that is a different game. The same goes for light racquets. They are harder for ball control because they twist/flop. Look at racquet-ball impacts in slow motion. Beginners and intermediates need stable racquets. That means weight, smaller heads, and high dynamic stiffness (gut-like) strings with grips that aren’t too small.

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