Yonex RD Ti-70 Racquet Review

Yonex's two new player's racquets, the RD Ti-70 Standard and RD Ti-70 Long have generated almost as much excitement and discussion among players as their SRQ Ti-700 Long. We've received several inquiries, asking how these racquets perform and how they compare to the Wilson ProStaff 6.0 85 & 95, which we recently reviewed.

Before we get into comparisons of the Ti 70s and 6.0s, let's clarify what the RD Ti-70 racquets are not. They aren't replacements for the Yonex Super RD Tour 90 & 95, Yonex's most popular player's racquet of recent years. Like many of you, we wondered what could possibly replace such solid performers. Before we could say Isometric Headshape, Yonex had introduced the RD Ti-70 Standard and RD Ti-70 Long. According to Tom West, Yonex National Sales Manager, the timing was coincidental. He explains, "We had been planning to introduce a new player's racquet all along. The decision to discontinue the SRD Tours was based on a decrease in worldwide sales of these racquets. The RD Ti-70 was not intended to specifically replace the Tours. They were introduced to stand on their own, offering different playing characteristics and benefits."

The introduction of the RD Ti-70 racquets also provided an opportunity for Yonex to showcase their new material technology, Ultimum Ti. (originally known as Ultima Ti.) Yonex's West continues, "Ultimum Ti. is a nickel/titanium alloy that acts somewhat like a springboard, stretching and then returning quickly to its original form. The Ultimum Ti material used in the RD Ti-70 racquets is in the form of elastic-like strands, laid over the high-modulus carbon/graphite in the shaft. Because of it's elastic, memory-like qualities, the use of Ultimum Ti results in more comfortable and controllable power than increasing stiffness, which is the more traditional way of increasing power. Testing performed at the Yonex factory in Japan has shown a 5% increase in ball speed using Ultimum Ti." Expect to see more Ultimum Ti. in Yonex's Spring 2000 introductions.

At first glance, the RD Ti-70s resemble the SRD Tour 90 & 95 - similar head sizes (88 & 98), similar weight, balance and swingweight specs. Even Richard Krajicek switched from the SRD Tour 90 to the RD Ti-70 Standard this past summer season and made an impressive showing at the US Open, losing a 5-set squeaker to Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the quarterfinals. This provided the RD Ti-70 with excellent visibility and credibility as an appropriate replacement for the SRD Tour 90.

Despite all this, and the fact that the RD Ti-70 racquets are solid racquets in the right players' hands, they are measurably different from the SRD Tour. How? First, the Ti-70s feature a Box Cross Section, as opposed to Yonex's signature Triangular Cross Section, resulting in more racquet "feedback". Then, there's the string pattern density. For the first time, Yonex has incorporated an 18 main string pattern into both midplus racquets.

We wondered what prompted Yonex to deviate from their long-standing 16 main string pattern. Jun Hirasawa, Yonex Pro Player Liaison explained, "we received feedback from our pro players that they wanted a racquet with more control, particularly in the area of the strings. We built some prototypes and they were immediately popular. Since introducing the racquets, we've found that non-professional players also like the increased control and extended string life."

The combination of the Box Cross Section and denser string pattern in the RD Ti-70s resulted in a racquet design that offers less power and comfort but more control than the SRD Tours. Is this better or worse? Our 2-week playtest session provided some good insights.

Yonex RD Ti-70 Standard

Like the ProStaff 6.0 85, the RD Ti-70 Standard is designed for players who generate their own power and are seeking maximum control. Drew comments, "the 88 felt similar to my ProStaff 6.0 85 on groundstrokes - similar control but perhaps not quite as much power due to the denser string pattern. It did offer more cushioning, though, without sacrificing feel."

Another ProStaff 6.0 85 user was a little less enthusiastic. Granville offers, "it is the rare occasion when a midsize racquet is introduced and the RD Ti-70 Standard is a good example why. The combination of an 88 square inch head and 18 main strings results in a small sweetspot and very stiff feel. Not very forgiving." It became quickly evident that the RD Ti-70 Standard requires early preparation and proper stroke mechanics. Otherwise, balls don't have much pace and land short.

Dan continues, "groundstrokes required some major muscle to help them along. I have long, loopy strokes off both sides but the gun powder just didn't seem to be there. I really paid the price on off-center hits - the sweetspot is very small and low in the stringbed. However, control was a plus - just point and pull the trigger. It's getting the ball to the mark on time that's the problem."

Mark adds, "this racquet felt a lot like the ProStaff 6.0 85 - heavy, standard length and a small sweetspot. If I had to choose between the two, I'd go for the ProStaff 6.0 85 because it offers a little more power and stability. Having said that, the RD Ti-70 Standard has a very solid feel to it and I felt very little shock or vibration. The weight of the frame did make my arm tired after awhile but that's to be expected."

Don concludes, "like the ProStaff 6.0, the RD Ti-70 Standard isn't powerful enough for me. This is magnified by the denser string pattern. I just couldn't get any zip on the ball without overswinging. Funny thing is that I could play with the Super RD Tour 90. The more open string pattern and Triangular Cross Section (on the Tour) provided more punch and comfort, without sacrificing control."

Serving with the RD Ti-70 Standard is similar to the ProStaff 6.0 85, but the denser stringbed doesn't allow quite as much pop or spin. Drew says, "there's enough mass in the 88 to serve effectively, although I couldn't get as much spin on my second serve." Don comments, "serving requires more strength than the ProStaff 6.0 85 for the same amount of pace. I got into a groove but my arm started tiring too soon." In the hands of a big server, the RD Ti-70 Standard is more at home. Dan adds, "serves found their mark and I had no problem generating pace. However, second serves took some extra swing speed to have any effect and kick/slice serves were average.

Overheads weren't a problem as long as the timing was there. If you're off center, be prepared to hit a second overhead or a volley.

Like groundstrokes, volleys require good form for best results. Dan offers, "volleys are where I felt this racquet excelled. Unlike groundstrokes, not much is needed here. Just meeting the ball is enough to stick a good volley." Don adds, " although the 88 square inch head doesn't allow much room for error, the racquet was stable on volleys, likely due to its weight. You really need to hit the ball in the center or lower-center of the stringbed, though, for good pace." Drew says simply, "I thought both models lacked a little in the volleying department."

Serve returns are stable but require a fuller swing for power and depth, except against the hardest serves. Approach shots also need a longer follow-through to be effective. Otherwise, they'll land too short and you'll feel like a teaching pro feeding easy approach shots for your student to practice his passing shots.

Overall, it's difficult to classify the RD Ti-70 Standard as either a baseliner's racquet or serve and volleyer's stick. Serve and volleyers needing Ultimumte control might find something here. Baseliners may have difficulties generating enough power but pinpoint accuracy is there. One thing's for sure - the RD Ti-70 Standard is best suited to 4.5-7.0 players, who generate plenty of power and are seeking control and string durability. It compares with the ProStaff 6.0 85, Head Classic Mid and Prince Graphite Original Midplus. If you play with or are considering these racquet models, the RD Ti-70 Standard merits a closer look.

Yonex RD Ti-70 Standard Technical & Statistical Data

Yonex RD Ti-70 Standard Play Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size88 square inches568 square centimeters
Weight12.3 ounces349 grams
Balance Point12.5 inches
32 centimeters
8pts Head Light
Shaft Width19-20mm
CompositionHigh Modulus Graphite & Titanium Mesh/Ultima Ti Shaft

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating66Range: 0-100
Swing Weight335Range: 200-400
Power53B
Control46B
Manueverability63A

Yonex RD Ti-70 Long

Like the ProStaff 6.0 95, the RD Ti-70 Long will appeal to a wider variety of players than the RD Ti-70 Standard. For most of us, the RD Ti-70 Long offers more forgiveness, improved power, maneuverability and comfort over the RD Ti-70 Standard.

Dan offers, "it's amazing what 1/2 inch of extra length and 10 square inches of hitting area can do to a racquet. The RD Ti-70 Long was a far more comfortable hit than the standard length, 88 square inch version. Off-center hits weren't as costly and the power boost on groundies was a welcome relief. Despite this improvement over the RD Ti-70 Standard, the Long is still a fairly flexible frame for players with Ultimumte control in mind." Granville agrees, "the 98 square inch head provides good control and a manageable sweetspot, while the thin beam affords the flexibility required for control."

On groundstrokes, the RD Ti-70 Long is easier to swing than RD Ti-70 Standard, despite the fact that it's only 3 grams lighter. This is due to it's more head-light balance, resulting in a noticeably lower swingweight (321 vs. 335). Granville noticed this difference, commenting, "at 27.5 inches, the RD Ti-70 Long is well-balanced and offers excellent maneuverability." Don adds, "I had trouble getting the RD Ti-70 Standard going on groundies but the Long was much smoother swinging. It doesn't offer as much power or comfort as the SRD Tour 95 but it's maneuverability is similar."

Dan commented on the benefits of the 98 square inch headsize, "the larger head allowed more spin potential off both wings by spreading out the 18 mains just enough. Slice sat up more than I like, particularly on approach shots, but it's nothing a drop in string tension wouldn't solve. This adds up to a racquet, I feel has just as much control as the Standard but with more horsepower from the baseline. The extra 1/2 inch was virtually unnoticeable - it felt like a 27 inch racquet."

Mark says, "the Long suited my game more than the 88. I could generate pretty good power with the 98, but not enough to blow someone off the court. The biggest problem I had was not being able to hit with spin. I felt like I had to swing straight up to get any topspin. A lot of my shots went long because none of the energy from my swing went into creating spin. This would be a good racquet for someone who likes to hit flat."

String breakers will appreciate the denser pattern. As Drew points out, "the most unique thing about the 98 is its string pattern, which will appeal to string breakers. It won't be as appealing, though, to players looking for good bite on the ball."

Volleys are pretty natural for the RD Ti-70 Long,with it's 98 square inch hitting area, head-light balance and 1/2 inch of extra length. It's certainly more maneuverable at net than the RD Ti-70 Standard. The larger head also helps in making those stab, reaction volleys. Dan says, "volleys were solid and quick and control was a plus. No need for extra juice or racquet manipulation to stick good volleys." Don adds, "good precision at net but power was still lacking a bit for me. My volleys landed short unless I made absolute solid contact each time."

Mark, on the other hand, had some control problems at net. He explains, "I have a pretty short volley stroke but I had to shorten it even more to keep the ball from flying long. Again, I couldn't get any spin on the ball so all the energy from my stroke was creating pace and I hit a lot of volleys long. Once I shortened my stroke I did OK and I liked the solid feel of the racquet."

Serves and overheads were noticeably improved for most playtesters over the RD Ti-70 Standard. Dan was especially impressed, saying, "if I had to define this racquet by just one stroke, it would undoubtedly be the serve. I have yet to find a racquet in the flex category that strikes such a nice balance between power and control. I couldn't have served any harder if I'd used a 29 inch widebody and the added control was a big plus. The RD Ti-70 Long felt like a precision rifle with a high quality scope. It doesn't get much better."

Don also preferred the RD Ti-70 Long on serves, adding, "similar to the ProStaff 6.0 95, I was able to generate more racquet head speed with the RD Ti-70 Long than the Standard. I could hit serves with good pace and place them at will. Very predictable serving racquet. Overheads were also easier to hit. The RD Ti-70 Long wasn't sluggish at all. Just set up and let er rip. Again, placement was very impressive but you need to provide the power."

The added maneuverability and slightly less dense string pattern of the RD Ti-70 Long make it more effective on serve returns, approach and reaction shots than the Standard. It's generally more user-friendly on off-balance shots for most players.

There's no doubt the RD Ti-70 Long will appeal to more of you than the Standard. You'll still need to deliver most of the power with this racquet but it will reward you with impressive control. While we believe it is better suited to serve/volley and all-court players, baseliners who like the ProStaff 6.0 95 or Head Classic Tour Midplus will find similar attributes in the RD Ti-70 Long.

Yonex RD Ti-70 Long Technical & Statistical Data

Yonex RD Ti-70 Long Play Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27.5 inches70 centimeters
Head Size98 square inches632 square centimeters
Weight12.1 ounces343 grams
Balance Point12.375 inches
31 centimeters
11pts Head Light
Shaft Width19-20mm
CompositionHigh Modulus Graphite & Titanium Mesh/Ultima Ti Shaft

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating62Range: 0-100
Swing Weight321Range: 200-400
Power50B
Control52B
Manueverability73A
Playtester Profiles
Granville 5.5 all-court player currently using the Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85
Dan 5.5 all-court player currently using the Gamma Tradition 18 MP.
Mark 5.5 serve & volleyer currently using the Prince Thunder Ultralite Titanium Oversize.
Don 4.5-5.0 all-court player currently using the Yonex Super RD Tour 95.
Drew 4.5-5.0 baseliner currently using the Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85.

RD Ti-70 Standard test racquets strung with Tecnifibre NRG2 17 at 58 pounds. RD Ti-70 Long test racquets strung with Tecnifibre NRG2 17 at 60 pounds.

Review date: October 1999. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 1999 Tennis Warehouse.

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