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.