One of the game's cleanest techniques helped propel Dominic Thiem to his maiden Grand Slam victory at the US Open in 2020, chalking up yet another big title that his racquet sponsor Babolat can lay claim to playing a part in.
But which frame from the French outfit does Thiem use when he's blazing backhand winners? Let's take a closer look at the Austrian's tennis racquet.
What Racquet Does Dominic Thiem Use?
Thiem is Babolat's face of the Pure Strike line of racquets, and he's currently a customised version of the 3rd Generation Pure Strike 18 x 20.
While many pro players, for example, Djokovic and Murray, tend to use pro stock frames with unique drill patterns, with Babolat you often see their sponsored players using retail frames that they customise to spec.
Even Nadal uses a lightly customised retail frame; all be it one from the early 2000s and Thiem is the same.
With a player like Dominic, we start with an exchange with his coach and our performance teams in the lab on the characteristics of the current racket. We discuss the situation together and notably the evolution to be made on the racquet according to the orientation of the style of play or certain technical adjustments.
Depending on the answers, we provide solutions, without forgetting, of course, the impact of the stringing (50% of the racquet’s performance comes from the frame and 50% from the string).” In Dominic’s case, we brought more stability at impact to allow him to play the ball earlier after the rebound.
The evolution of the racquet’s frame has allowed us to change the customization, lowering the weight added. As a result, the racket has greater manoeuvrability while maintaining the control-power ratio. This improved manoeuvrability allows the racquet to generate more spin and confidence on impact with the ball.
The string pattern has an impact on the control level. An 18×20 string pattern will reduce the string bed flexibility and therefore provide more control. We call this the trampoline effect. The larger and more open the string pattern is the bigger the trampoline effect, so, providing more power. Olivier Carlier, Babolat Global Marketing Manager
What Specification is Thiem's Racquet?
Thiem's third-generation Pure Strike is not too dissimilar to the retail racquet, but he has the frame customised with four strips of lead tape at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, and 2 more strips under the head guard at 12 o'clock. This is counterbalanced with silicone in the handle.
He's currently using around 3 inches of lead tape at 3 and 9, but in the video, further down the page, he had 4 inches of lead tape (in his first-gen Pure Strike). 1 inch of 1/4 inch lead tape weighs 0.25 g.
Thiem's grip is also moulded to his specification, and it's actually a Head rectangular grip shape, a frame he used in his younger days. You can see his full racquet specs below:
|Head Size||98 in²|
|Unstrung Weight||317 g|
|Strung Weight||335 g|
|Unstrung Balance||31.4 cm (9pts HL) / Around 4pts HL when strung)|
|Swing Weight||310 kg.cm2 (unstrung) / 345 kg.cm2 (strung)|
|String Pattern||18 x 20|
|Grip Style||Custom grip pallet (Head shape) + Tournagrip|
|Grip Size||4 1/4 in (L2.5)|
Has Thiem Changed Racquet Specs In His Career?
Thiem has been quite the tinkerer when it comes to racquets, and he's played with three different brands since he was a junior.
As a junior, he used the Wilson Six One 95 Team, a lighter version of the Six One 95 that several players in Thiem's age range use even to this day.
Interestingly he used the lighter model, which I assume is because he was never the most muscular guy out there and has been somewhat of a late developer physically.
After leaving the Wilson behind, Thiem moved over to his home country's racquet manufacturer, Head, using the control orientated Head Prestige MP for several years in an 18 x 20 string pattern.
Then in 2014, Babolat launched the Pure Strike racquet. Like Nadal's Aero Pure Drive Original, this racquet was practically designed for Thiem, and he has used that racquet ever since.
Babolat updated the frame in 2017, but Thiem stuck with the older design despite the new cosmetic for branding purposes.
When the third generation racquet was launched in 2019, Thiem made the switch to the updated model. That's the racquet he uses right now.
Why Does Thiem Use The Babolat Pure Strike?
The Pure Strike is a control orientated racquet, and with Thiems full, fast swings, that is the sort of frame he needs; otherwise, he would be spraying the ball all over the place. Which he even manages from time to time with a lower-powered frame like the Pure Strike!
The 18 x 20 string pattern also helps him provide a more predictable response, and amongst the next-gen, there seems to be a trend towards using the denser string patterns.
Interestingly, compared to many other top guys, Thiem's static weight and swing weight are a bit lower than the average. For example, Djokovic is using a racquet that is 19 grams heavier with a much higher swing weight, which is a significant difference.
You'd think that weight difference would result in a lack of power for the Austrian, but given his swing speed and technique, he's capable of hitting one of the heaviest balls on tour with a ton of spin on both wings.
What String Setup Does Thiem Use?
Thiem has experimented heavily with strings over the years, switching them around frequently.
When he first moved to the Pure Strike, he used a full bed of Babolat RPM Blast; then he moved over the RPM Blast Rough seemingly for more spin and power.
Then, he switched to a hybrid with Babolat VS Natural Gut in the mains and RPM Blast Rough in the crosses for a brief period. In several interviews, he revealed being a big fan of the setup.
However, it wasn't long before those strings were cut out and he started experimenting using Head Hawk and Head Experimental Tour.
Given that setup brought some impressive results including beating Federer to win the Indian Wells title, you would have thought it'd stick around.
But Thiem again soon changed, this time to a full bed of Babolat RPM Power 1.25mm (17), this is his current setup and helped land him his maiden Grand Slam at the US Open in 2020. He strings it at 55 lbs/ 25kg.
Can You Buy Dominic Thiem's Racquet?
Dominic Thiem's racquet is readily available at most major tennis retailers, the model you want is the Pure Strike 18 x 20.
To mirror his exact specs, you'll need some lead tape, a full set of Babolat RPM Power and to be able to add some weight into the handle.
Rather than using silicone, I would recommend using rolled-up lead tape or some putty in the butt cap. This is easier to work with and adjust if you need to.
You'd need someone to remodel the handle if you wanted a replica which would require shaving it down and building it back up in the Head rectangular shape, but this is overkill.
Your final option would be to track down a match used Thiem frame, but this will not be easy.
Are you a fan of the Babolat Pure Strike? Got a question about Thiem's racquet? Let me know in the comments.