Dunlop Aerogel 4D 200 Review
If you've been to the movie theater recently, especially this past summer, you've probably noticed a movie or two being shown in 3D. It's the latest technological craze in cinema.
While 3D may be good enough for the movies, it's not good enough for Dunlop racquets. Why settle for 3D when 4D is available?
Dunlop calls it 4D Braided technology, and it has nothing to do with visual perception and everything to do with racquet performance. Four braided, super light fibers wrapped in an aluminum alloy sheath provide the same torsional stability in one layer as four layers of carbon, providing more strength and stability without adding weight. This also helps the racquet have a softer feel with less bulk, according to Dunlop.
The Aerogel 4D 200 adds Dunlop's new 4D Braided technology to a very popular frame. The MuscleWeave 200, the M-Fil 200 and the Aerogel 200 were all big sellers for Dunlop. Will this 4D iteration carry the 200 into the next dimension of success?
Our playtest crew did their best Roger Ebert and Gene Shalit impressions, taking the Aerogel 4D 200 out for four weeks to see if this Dunlop gets a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Read on to find out if the Aerogel 4D 200 is worth the price of admission.
Groundstrokes - Score: 85
One thing all the testers agreed upon was the high level of performance the Aerogel 4D 200 had from the baseline. This racquet possessed a stable feel with excellent control when hitting groundstrokes.
Chris now holds the 4D 200 close to his heart. He said, "I loved this racquet from the baseline. It was just so, so solid. I loved the plow through I got, both on topspin and slice shots. The 4D 200 is also a great racquet for hitting the ball flat. The tight string pattern offers a ton of feel and control, which allowed me to hit flat, aggressive shots with confidence. The comfort was amazing, yet I still felt connected to the ball and found a high level of touch. All of these attributes added up to make this one of my three favorite racquets (actually, No. 2 behind my Volkl Power Bridge 10 Mid and one ahead of the Prince EXO3 Rebel). I used a variety of strings in the racquet and found the best results with Volkl Cyclone 16 and Isospeed Axon Mono, both at two pounds below mid tension."
Troy made comparisons to his customized racquets, saying, "The weight and swingweight of this racquet are nearly identical to how my KBlade 98s are customized, so I felt comfortable swinging out from the baseline. I loved the responsiveness that this racquet gave me during baseline exchanges. I was placing the ball well in the court. The only problem was that it was a bit underpowered for my ability level. I found the 95 sq. in. head and the low stiffness rating made it hard for me to keep the ball deep in the court. For a strong baseliner who can rip the ball off both wings, control doesn't get any better than this!"
Granville enjoyed the friendly feel and performance. He offered, "This 4D 200 is right in my sweetspot. The specs match my preferred racquet very closely, but this 200 is softer and a bit friendlier. I was immediately hitting my backhand with greater pace and confidence. It's one of those racquets I can pick up and immediately hit with confidence."
Spencer was brimming with confidence while hitting groundstrokes. He said, "I was quickly reminded of how well the 200 series racquets from Dunlop hit from the baseline. From the M-Fil to the Aerogel to the current Aerogel 4D 200, the stable, solid feel is undeniable. The directional control was outstanding on both forehands and backhands. I felt equally confident in hitting both topspin and slice from the backhand wing. For a 95 square inch headsize, the 4D 200 has a nice sized sweetspot. With good stability and a forgiving sweetspot, I always felt I was hitting a solid ball. This, in turn, helped my confidence. Another thing that helped was the ball staying inside the lines due to its nice, low-powered control."
Volleys - Score: 82
This head light, maneuverable racquet provided our testers with good versatility at net. The ability to solidly put away volleys, while at the same time handling tough passing attempts, made this one a winner.
Using the mass and stability to be aggressive at net was Troy. He said, "The stability of this racquet made it easy for me to feel comfortable volleying. The same responsiveness I felt from the baseline was increased. While playing doubles I found myself creating angles and putting my opponents in a defensive position more comfortably than usual. The mass of the racquet was allowing me to hit more penetrating volleys, forcing tougher returns."
Chris marveled at the versatility, saying, "This racquet was rock solid at net. It offered the kind of response that allowed me to punch volleys aggressively, as well as find the touch needed for drop volleys. Again, comfort was excellent. Even though the stringbed features a tight pattern, the feel and response was surprisingly soft -- even with a co-poly string. "
Noticing a ton of control at net was Granville. He said, "The feeling at net when volleying with the 4D 200 was control. The soft flex gave me that little bit of extra dwell time on the strings that gave me the impression I could place the ball on a dime. The head light balance (7 points) seemed a good balance for the weight and lay-up of the frame. Sometimes the planets align, and this delicate balancing act produces little gems like this 4D 200."
Spencer loved the solid feel, offering, "Much like on groundstrokes, I thought the volleys felt extremely solid. I had the confidence to hit solid, controlled volleys. Though the racquet weighs close to 12 ounces, the head light balance helps keep this stick maneuverable."
Serves - Score: 78
While our playtesters agreed that this stick offers excellent placement, it seemed to lack some firepower for some.
Troy utilized the precision of this stick when serving. He said, "I enjoyed being able to swing as fast as I could on serves and still be in control. I noticed that when going for a kick serve I was in full control and there was a very consistent response. I found no extra power coming from the racquet, so the more racquet head speed the better. But I don't think I could generate enough racquet head speed to reap all the benefits this racquet has to offer on serve. Placement of serves was precise, whether out wide or down the T."
Not finding any extra spin or pace when serving was Spencer, who said, "This was probably the low point of the playtest for me. I didn't feel I could get much velocity when serving, and I couldn't get any desired effectiveness with spin. The tight string pattern didn't allow for as much spin as I can generate with most open string patterned racquets. Though I had good control, I wasn't getting the amount of 'free points' that I can usually expect when serving with some other racquets."
Granville was thrilled with the accuracy he got on serve. He said, "The confidence continued with the serves. I was feeling that deep pocketing in the stringbed. It seemingly offered me some new spots to hit in the service court -- excellent control! I did not, however, get anything extra on my serve -- maybe a little less pop than I am accustomed to. This would be a trade-off decision on the serve for me, more control at the expense of a bit of power."
Chris liked that he was able to get a high percentage of serves in. He offered, "I liked the pop and consistency I found on serve with this racquet. I was able to stay aggressive with both deliveries and maintain a solid percentage. I really liked adding some slice to my first serves with this racquet. I was able to either pull the ball wide of the player or pull it into my opponent's body to jam them. This was a fun racquet on serve. I could see it getting a little taxing in a tournament situation. If I had to play several matches each day it could get tiring, as it takes a little more effort to swing than my current stick. Once I got the racquet moving, though, the power was there for me."
Serve returns - Score: 82
We found that the Aerogel 4D 200 handled all serves well. The mass of the racquet kept it stable when returning well paced serves, while still providing good control when looking to swing out.
Granville returned with a lot of confidence. He said, "When playing with a racquet like this, and playing well, I felt I owned the court. I developed an attitude that I could get anything back. And if my opponent didn't hit it well, I was going to. It made for a good tennis day time and time again. This racquet is one that provided several days of memories and enjoyment."
The torsional stability was a hit with Chris. He offered, "The control and comfort of the racquet were the standout features for me on returns. Both revolved around the solid response. The racquet resisted twisting very well, which was a big help when up against stronger servers. The solid feel really allowed me to make aggressive returns and find good consistency when doing so."
Spencer had good results when returning serves. He said, "Offering good maneuverability, the 4D 200 provided a good response when returning serve. I enjoyed, once again, the stability of the racquet. I felt my returns went where I was aiming."
Troy had issues with not being able to get his returns deep into the court. He said, "I noticed the lack of power the most when returning serve. I was having a hard time getting the ball deeper than the service line. It was likely due to my ability, but this stick wasn't giving me the power I needed. When serves were in my strike zone I had no problems creating heavy returns, but I just wasn't consistently returning deep into the court. This was leading me to be on the defensive early, and this wasn't helping me win points, no matter how much of a defensive player I am."
Overall - Score: 84The Dunlop Aerogel 4D 200 seemed to be a good fit for our playtest group. The well balanced mass of the frame, along with the tight string pattern, allowed our crew to put a good swing on the ball while penetrating the court with superb directional control. The solid feel continued at net. The stability of the racquet made it easier to handle hard paced shots, while also providing good maneuverability with its head light balance. The tighter 18x20 string pattern also allowed excellent placement and touch for more delicate volleys. Accuracy on serve was excellent, though most of our testers were seeking added pace.
All in all, the 4D 200 more than satisfied our playtesters with its level of control, feel, comfort and stability. We feel it would be an excellent choice for intermediate to advanced players looking for the highest level of precision on their shots.
Troy "The responsiveness and the control were top notch. This stick should fit into your game quite well if you're a player consistently generating tons of racquet head speed."
Chris "I loved the solid feel, the comfort, the control and just the feel of the ball coming off the racquet. This was a really fun playtest for me."
Granville "It has a soft feel, weighs about 12 ounces and has a complementary head light balance -- nice! I also like the cosmetic; it's a good looking racquet."
Spencer "The excellent all-around feel of this stick. I am actually a bit surprised I haven't put this stick in my bag."
Troy "Nothing, other than I'm not good enough yet to be effective with this stick."
Chris "None. Dunlop has made a close to perfect racquet for me."
Granville "If only it could give me an extra 10-15 MPH more!"
Spencer "The lack of effectiveness on serve."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Granville:5.5 all-court player currently using a Wilson K Factor Six-One Tour 95. Granville is an aggressive player who uses an eastern forehand grip and goes continental on everything else, hits with a flat swing and a one-handed backhand.
Spencer: 4.5 Baseline player currently using a Wilson K-Blade Tour. Spencer uses a semi-western forehand grip, and hits with a one-handed backhand.
Chris: 5.0 All court player currently using the Volkl Power Bridge 10 Mid. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a two-handed backhand.
Troy: 5.0 lefty all-court player with a full Western Forehand and a two handed backhand. Troy currently plays with the Wilson K-Blade 98.
Review date: August 2010. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2010 Tennis Warehouse.