Over recent weeks I've been reviewing the new Wilson Blade v8 range of rackets, which includes the Blade 104 v8.
The Blade 104 v8 is an oversized 104 square inch racquet, and it's also extended in length compared to most tennis racquets on the market.
In this case, it's 27.5 inches in length (69.85cm), whereas the standard length of a tennis racket is 27 inches (68.58cm).
This was the first time I've used a longer racquet, but what is the reason for that extra half an inch? Does it help your game or hinder it? Would I switch to it?
This post will explain everything you need to know about extended length tennis racquets.
What is an Extended Length Racket?
An extended tennis racquet is self-explanatory. It's a tennis racquet that's longer than the standard 27-inch racquet.
The extra length is added to the handle, and they typically come in at 27.25 inches, 27.5 inches, and 28 inches in size.
The extra length is either part of the manufacturing process like the Yonex EZONE 98+.
Or a standard 27-inch racquet is customised by a racquet technician by adding length to the grip and then reinstalling the butt cap.
What are the Advantages of an Extended Racket?
An extended length racquet has several advantages. One of the biggest is that it gives you extra reach on the serve, the return of serve, overheads, on double-handed strokes and up at the net.
By making contact with the ball higher up on serve, you can achieve a higher margin of error and produce more ball speed, which is why Michael Chang opted for a 28-inch frame.
With the racquet being extended, the swing weight of the frame increases, which also gives you increased power potential.
That means you can use a more flexible frame and gain more controlled power rather than obtain it via a higher stiffness standard length racquet.
Other advantages include:
- More stability against heavy topspin balls
- A higher swing weight without an increase in static weight
- A higher recoil weight, so potentially more arm friendly
What about Disadvantages?
With a list of advantages so long, why aren't 28-inch racquets the standard size everyone uses?
Like everything in tennis, there's a trade-off, and by extending the racquet, you sacrifice manoeuvrability. The racquet becomes harder to swing and slower through the air.
Adding 0.25 inches to a standard length frame adds about ten swing weight points to a racquet, although this can vary.
For example, a Babolat Pure Drive has a swing weight of 320 kg/m2, whereas the Babolat Pure Drive Plus, which is just 1/2 an inch longer, has a swing weight of 324 kg/m2.
This is still quite a big difference even though they are identical racquets and have the same static weight.
The other disadvantage is that getting used to an extended racquet, finding the sweet spot, getting your spacing between your body and the ball, etc., takes some adjustment.
I found the Blade 104 v8 different to play with, especially on the backhand, as I'm using a one-hander, so it will take some recalibration to play well with.
That's why I think the most significant disadvantage for most players is that it takes quite a while to get used to. Whereas some players might instantly click, others will not.
Who Should use an Extended Racket?
There is no set formula for who should use an extended racquet as we see players of all game styles using them, from the 5ft 7″ Schwartzman to the 6ft 3″ Gael Monfils.
As with most things tennis racquets, it is a matter of personal preference.
In general, I think long-bodied racquets are more suited to experienced intermediate and advanced players with fully developed strokes.
Extended racquets generally have a higher swing weight, so you need good (early) preparation and solid stroke mechanics to adjust for spacing and timing.
If you are a player who likes weight and often adds lead to a racquet, then a Blade 98 with 6 – 8 grams of lead at 12 o'clock will be just as easy/difficult to swing as an extended 27.5 inch Blade 98, so for you, that extra length could be a good thing.
Usually, I'd recommend demoing a racquet, but to get to grips with an extended frame, you'll need to use it for an extended period.
Hence, a long term demo or temporarily adjusting a standard racquet which I explain below, is one solution.
What about new players? Should they start with a 28-inch frame? Maybe, it depends on their natural abilities and how they intend to play. I'd recommend asking a coach after one or two lessons, and they should be able to advise you on the way forward to get the best out of your game.
Can You Extend a Standard Length Racket?
Yes, you can. Several DIY methods are available on youtube showing how this can be done using balsa wood and epoxy glue.
There is also a dedicated product called the XTP Extended Length Butt Cap, a piece of plastic that slips over the end of your racquet and replaces the existing butt cap.
I haven't tried this product, but it looks like the easiest and most cost-effective way.
Just be aware that it will add a little thickness to the bottom of your grip.
You could file some of your grip away to get a more flush fit, although I'd recommend testing it first without a permanent type install. That way, you can switch back if you do not like it.
You can see an example of the XTP heat fit process below:
What is the Best Extended Racket?
If you've read my other posts here, you'll know that there's no such thing as the best tennis racquet.
That is no different for extended racquets, and the best racquet is the one that suits your game.
Is it the Pure Drive Plus due to its playability? Or is it the EZONE 98+ thanks to its plough through?
The only way you'll know that is by finding a racquet that has specs that match your preferences, ability and playing style.
The best racquet for you is always the heaviest racquet you can swing equally fast on all planes of contact for the duration you intend to play for.
The good news is that, unlike the racquet market as a whole, extended frames are more of a niche product, and manufacturers typically only have one or two in their range, which makes choosing slightly easier.
Some of the most popular extended frames on the market right now include:
Which Professional Players Use Extended Rackets?
Extended length racquets first gained popularity when Michael Chang started using the 28-inch Precision Graphite Michael Chang in the early 1990s.
It gives me better trajectory on my serve, adding five to seven miles per hour. It gives me more of a margin of error on my serve and a better percentage on my first serves. I've had more aces than ever before Michael Chang on his Prince Longbody Racket
At the time, that caused Prince, Dunlop, Wilson, Weed and Spalding to rush into the extended racquet market, launching 28-inch, 28 1/4-inch, 28 1/2-inch and 29-inch long bodies as they saw it as a way to boost sales in a market that was flatlining.
However, the fanfare around long-bodied racquets was relatively short-lived. As of 2021, the vast majority of the racquets produced are the standard 27-inch racquets, with only a handful of extended racquets available.
So does that mean not many ATP or WTA players use them? It's the opposite, as they've decreased in retail sale numbers, at the professional level there's a significant number of professionals using them.
At the time of writing, somewhere between 10-20% of pros use extended racquets.
Check out the list below that contains both active and retired players, all of whom have used an extended racquet in their careers.
Most of them have used an extended racquet throughout their careers. Whereas some switched, Hewitt used a Prince long body but later changed to a standard 27″ Yonex racquet.
|Albert Costa||28 inches|
|Albert Ramos||27.5 inches|
|Andy Roddick||27.5 inches|
|Benoit Paire||27.5 inches|
|Bernard Tomic||27.5 inches|
|Bob Bryan||27.5 inches|
|Caroline Wozniacki||27.5 inches|
|Daniel Hantuchova||27.5 inches|
|David Ferrer||27.5 inches|
|David Nalbandian||27.5 inches|
|Diego Schwartzman||28 inches|
|Edouard Roger Vasselin||27.5 inches|
|Elina Svitolina||27.5 inches|
|Eugenie Bouchard||27.5 inches|
|Evgeny Donskoy||27.5 inches|
|Fabrice Santoro||28 inches|
|Fernando González||27.5 inches|
|Gaël Monfils||27.5 inches|
|Goran Ivanisevic||27.5 inches|
|Guillermo Coria||28 inches|
|Hsieh Su-wei||29 inches|
|Igor Andreev||27.5 inches|
|Jamie Murray||27.5 inches|
|Jarkko Nieminen||27.8 inches|
|Jelena Ostapenko||27.5 inches|
|John Isner||27.4 inches|
|Jonah Bjorkman||27.5 inches|
|Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||27.5 inches|
|Juan C. Ferrero||28 inches|
|Juan Martín Del Potro||27.25 inches|
|Julien Benneteau||27.5 inches|
|Jurgen Melzer||27.7 inches|
|Justine Henin||27.5 inches|
|Kei Nishikori||27.25 inches|
|Leighton Hewitt||28 inches|
|Li Na||27.5 inches|
|Marcelo Rios||28 inches|
|Marcin Matkowski||27.5 inches|
|Mardy Fish||27.5 inches|
|Maria Kirilenko||27.5 inches|
|Marion Bartoli||29 inches|
|Michael Chang||28 inches|
|Mike Bryan||27.5 inches|
|Nicolas Kiefer||28 inches|
|Nicolas Massu||27.5 inches|
|Nikolaj Davydenko||28 inches|
|Novak Djokovic||27.1 inches|
|Olivier Rochus||27.5 inches|
|Pablo Andujar||27.5 inches|
|Pablo Cuevas||27.5 inches|
|Paradorn Srichaphan||27.5 inches|
|Philipp Kohlschreiber||27.5 inches|
|Qiang Wang||27.5 inches|
|Raemon Sluiter||27.5 inches|
|Richard Gasquet||27.5 inches|
|Richard Krajicek||27.5 inches|
|Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo||27.5 inches|
|Sam Querrey||27.5 inches|
|Sebastien Grosjean||27.75 inches|
|Serena Williams||28 inches|
|Thanasi Kokkinakis||27.5 inches|
|Tommy Robredo||27.5 inches|
|Venus Williams||27.5 inches|
|Xavier Malisse||28 inches|
For additions to this list and any corrections, please leave a comment below.
Other Common Questions
Are extended racquets mainly for short people?
One misconception I've seen, primarily because Diego Schwartzman uses a long body racquet, is that they are designed mainly for shorter stature players.
While it's true that several shorter players have used them, they work equally well for taller players. As I mentioned, both Roddick and Ivanisevic used extended frames.
The tallest player I know of who uses them is Nikola Aracic, who runs the Intuitive Tennis Channel. He's 195cm and uses an extended Babolat Pure Drive which he's discussed his reasons for using in several videos.
Does he need extra reach? Not at all, but that's the frame he uses, and it helps him produce an ATP quality serve.
Is there a limit on how long a tennis racquet can be?
Yes, the maximum legal length of a tennis racquet is 29 inches.
This is from the ITF rulebook, which states: “any racket that exceeds 29 inches (73.66 cm) in overall length, including the handle, is non-conforming.”
The rule to limit racket length became an official Rule of Tennis on 1 January 2000.
Why are racquets 27 inches as standard?
There doesn't seem to be any real rhyme or reason why 27 inches is the accepted standard length for a racquet.
It is likely through trial and error that this length frame became the optimum for most players.
One explanation that has some logic is that the first racquets made were 27 inches in length and 9 inches in width, equal to the net's height, which is 3 feet (or 36 inches). When a player stood one racquet on end and the other on its side, you could verify the net's height.
Have you used an extended length tennis racquet? Got some opinions you'd like to share on using them? Or have questions about long-bodied frames? Let me know in the comments.