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Babolat Pure Drive GT Review

When the Babolat Pure Drive first hit US shores in the mid-nineties it gained a huge following for its signature blend of power and control. if there was one criticism of the Pure Drive family in those early days it was that the racquets felt somewhat hollow.

As the Pure Drive family matured, Babolat introduced technologies to address the hollow feel. First came the Woofer technology to enhance string interaction and reduce vibration. Next, Babolat developed the Cortex dampening system.

In this latest generation, Babolat has introduced Graphite Tungsten to the Pure Drive line, again a move to improve feel and stability. The playtest team went out to see how this newest Pure Drive stacked up against its predecessors. Here is what our team had to say about the Standard and Plus versions of the Pure Drive GT.


Babolat Pure Drive GT Standard

Groundstrokes - Scores: 81

From the baseline, our testers were impressed with the familiar power and control, as well as the more solid feel of this latest Pure Drive.

After dialing in the power, Kana enjoyed the feel from the baseline. "The power level of the Pure Drive GT is a bit higher than what I'm used to. My shots were flying out at first, but once I gained an understanding of how the racquet's power and projection worked with my strokes, my groundstrokes felt solid. With its 16x19 string pattern I was able to put more spin on the ball, landing it deep into the backcourt. It felt great at the baseline."

The consistency of the Standard pleased Jackson. "Despite the stiffness rating of this racquet, it actually felt relatively soft from the baseline. I could feel the strings cradling the ball, strike after strike. My consistency was more noticeable than it was with the Plus model. I felt confident that I could keep a rally going while still hitting deep, heavy balls. Hitting winners was a little more difficult to do with the Standard, but that was almost a moot point because I was able to create angles with enough velocity to run my opponent off the court. This either forced an error or set up an easy put-away into the open court. And though I could feel the stiffness in the racquet, the feeling when striking the ball wasn't nearly as jarring as its stiffness rating might suggest."

Sean was impressed with the solid feel. "The blend of power and control offered was exactly what I was looking for when it came to hitting groundstrokes with this stick. The open string pattern offered great access to spin and allowed me to hit through the ball while keeping it in the court. I was very impressed by the solid feel I got from either wing."

Noticing a more solid feel from the previous version was Chris. "From the first hit, I noticed a more solid feel from this latest Pure Drive. I think Babolat has done a good job of making this stick more solid and comfortable feeling over the years - first with Woofer grommets, then with Cortex and now with the GT technology. I found that same level of power and spin that impressed me with previous versions. As usual with a Pure Drive, this one felt exceptional, both when pushing forward with aggression and when having to find depth and pace from a defensive position. During rallies, I was able to control the depth, direction and spin of my shots with little effort. I've always enjoyed the maneuverability of the Pure Drives and felt I could add some weight to this one without compromising its fast feel."

Spencer agreed, "I was extremely happy with the feel and results I got from the baseline. The Standard GT offered a stable feel with good power. I was also getting a good amount of spin to boot. There was a good combination of depth and directional control. It performed similarly to the previous Cortex version, but it seemed to have a more solid feel. I felt confident hitting off both wings, while being able to mix up the topspin and slice on the backhand side. Being a baseliner, I will have to contemplate putting this racquet in my bag. That's how good it felt to me."

Volleys - Scores: 78

The Pure Drive GT Standard offered plenty of maneuverability while maintaining good punch and stability.

Enjoying the mobile feel was Chris. "I was impressed by the fast feel of this racquet at net. I felt like I could react very quickly to the ball and also change the direction of the racquet face to quickly find an angle. Although this will undoubtedly be very popular with baseline players, I found this to be a dynamite doubles stick. Its maneuverable feel and solid power made it great for quick exchanges at net and when I had to pick up tough mid-court volleys."

Kana enjoyed the midplus headsize. "The overall feel felt solid and comfortable at the net. I love the 100 sq. in. head size when it comes to volleys. It seems I am more consistent, and I have a heightened confidence level in executing touch shots with sharp angles."

Feeling he could hit volleys with ease was Jackson. "Volleys were as effortless as spreading soft butter over a warm piece of toast. Consistency off the ground wasn't the only area where it excelled. Volleys felt natural, and they were coming off the face of the racquet smoothly, with very few off-center shots. The maneuverability of the standard length was no doubt a big contributor to the ease of volleying."

Sean found good punch and forgiveness. "Volleys felt great with this newest version of the Pure Drive. I was able to punch volleys deep in the court, and even off-center hits were able to find their mark. With the generous sweet spot and lightweight frame, this racquet proved great for reflex volleys, although I felt that a more headlight balance would definitely improve maneuverability at net."

This racquet boosted the confidence of Spencer. "I'm not the most comfortable guy at net, but this stick certainly helps me feel more confident when I am there. The off-center volleys I hit did not lose too much oomph and stayed on the path intended more often than many other racquets. Hence, it makes me look a little better than I actually am when it comes to volleying. There are other sticks that may have better feel, but I prefer this one as it has a good combination of stability, punch and forgiveness."

Serves - Scores: 81

Good power was evident when serving with this racquet. Our testers also noted that access to spin was easy to come by, offering good control and consistency.

Finding a healthy dose of power on first serves was Sean. "I found great feel on serves with this racquet. I definitely found some added pop on my first serves and was impressed that I could hit bigger serves than normal without sacrificing control. When hitting second serves, I could generate a lot of spin that helped greatly with control and placement of the shot."

Chris was in the same boat. "Serving and big groundstrokes are what it's all about for me hitting with the Pure Drive GT. On serve I was able to generate a lot of pace and spin with little effort. I had fun mixing up serves with pace and spin. Most of the time I was able to start off the point aggressively, no matter if I were hitting a first or a second serve."

The racquet's control pleased Spencer. "I felt the Standard offered excellent spin and control. It does have nice power, though it certainly wasn't as substantial as the Plus version. I enjoyed the consistency and placement, then in turn, the confidence it bred. I felt I was able to gamble a bit more on first serves because I could rely on a more effective second serve."

Kana was thrilled with the combination of power and spin. "Spin is the first thing I noticed when serving with this racquet. I could get more pop on my first serves while my second serves gained more spin. The power level felt great when I was going for a big serve."

The extra power didn't take a toll on the shoulder of Jackson. "Even though I couldn't get the same amount of mustard on serve with this racquet, it still lived up to its Pure Drive name. I was able to hit booming serves, even without the added benefit of the extra length of the Plus model. It was even easy on my shoulder, which I sometimes have issues with when it comes to serving; the combination of the balance point and weight matched well with my service motion to produce a smooth rotation that resulted in devastating power."

Serve Returns - Scores: 81

The characteristics of this racquet offered a lot of variety for our testers' service returns.

Spencer loved the variety of effective options. "Return of serve is where this racquet really shined for me. This stick allows so many options; from chipping back to coming through with a penetrating shot and being able to control direction. When letting the racquet do the work, my returns felt very solid, particularly on the backhand side. I was able to hit topspin backhands that were more effective than usual, as they seemed to dive down over the net. This was particularly effective for returning against a serve and volley player. I was very happy and confident when returning."

Finding plenty of power and spin was Chris. "I loved this racquet on returns. I was able to find lots of pace and spin, which opened up a lot of the court. I had plenty of control and was able to return aggressively a lot of the time. I also enjoyed the level of power I was finding when blocking back serves. Both the depth and direction of my shots remained predictable."

Kana was impressed with how aggressively she could return. "For big serves I was able to react with a quick punch to execute an aggressive return. On slower paced serves, I could take my time and use the spin this stick produced for a nice, deep return."

In agreement was Jackson. "As long as I made sure my feet weren't cemented to the court, return of serve was a pretty reliable shot. Though I couldn't get the same power on the return as I did with the Plus model, directing the ball was as easy as it was off the ground. The maneuverability of the racquet made preparation almost like a reflex, without me noticing what the racquet was doing until it made its move. Even though I didn't hit as many winners or force as many errors off the serve, I was able to start the point off with an aggressive shot, making the setting up of the point much easier."

Sean was able to return deep into the court. "This racquet performed better than I had expected on serve returns. With its lighter weight I expected a less than solid return. However, I was pleased to find that even on big serves I could return the ball deep in the court and give my opponent problems. Even when I was forced to slice returns back, I was able to control them and play a solid shot to begin the point."

Overall - Scores: 81

In this latest edition of the Pure Drive, our team found the addition of Graphite Tungsten to provide an even more solid feel from all areas of the court. From the baseline, this racquet offered a nice combination of power, depth and good access to spin. The 100 square-inch headsize was forgiving at net, while providing solid stability and punch. Serving was a snap, as it responded well to various types of serves. The performance didn't discriminate between a hard flat serve and a spinning kicker out wide. All in all, the Pure Drive GT Standard offered a solid feel with good spin and control, while offering plenty of power when called upon. Its versatility can suit a variety of levels, making it effective for intermediate players up to the professional ranks.

The "Likes" of the racquet.

Chris "I liked the spin, power and maneuverability the most. This was such a versatile racquet. I felt comfortable with it from all areas of the court."

Kana "The added spin to my shots was an offensive and defensive plus!"

Jackson "The consistency off the ground was reassuring, and it added a level of confidence to my game that seemed to grow exponentially."

Sean "Overall, the racquet felt solid from all areas of the court and didn't disappoint in any one department. Being a baseline player, groundstrokes were by far my favorite hit with this racquet, especially with the added stability from the GT technology."

Spencer "The solid feel and the balance of performance from all areas of the court."

The "Dislikes" of the racquet.

Chris "None really. I would have liked it more with some extra weight, but then I'd just go with the Roddick version, which is heavier."

Kana "The Graphite Tungsten helped the overall frame feel more solid. Nevertheless, the Pure Drive still felt a little on the hollow side."

Jackson "No huge dislikes with this racquet. If anything I would've preferred to be able to hit more winners from the baseline."

Sean "Some added maneuverability could have improved my volleys and some added weight might have been helpful for returning heavy serves. Other than those minor adjustments, I loved the racquet and would highly recommend that players give this frame a try."

Spencer "I didn't have any."

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size100 square inches645 square centimeters
Weight11.2 ounces318 grams
Balance Point13 inches
33 centimeters
4pts Head Light
Construction22-25 mm
CompositionGraphite Tungsten
String Pattern16 Mains / 19 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating70Range: 0-100
Swing Weight327Range: 200-400

Babolat Pure Drive GT Scores

Pure Drive GT Scores
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Chris' Scores
Power 8.2 Serves & Overheads 8.2
Control 8 Groundstrokes 8.2
Maneuverability 8.5 Returns 8.3
Stability 7.8 Slice 7.7
Comfort 7.8 Topspin 8.2
Touch/Feel 7.5 Volleys 8.1
Overall 8
Sean's Scores
Power 7.6 Serves & Overheads 8
Control 7.5 Groundstrokes 8.2
Maneuverability 7.2 Returns 7.8
Stability 7.8 Slice 7.7
Comfort 8 Topspin 7.8
Touch/Feel 7.4 Volleys 7.4
Overall 8
Spencer's Scores
Power 7.8 Serves & Overheads 8.4
Control 8.2 Groundstrokes 8.3
Maneuverability 8.1 Returns 8.7
Stability 8.3 Slice 8.1
Comfort 7.9 Topspin 8
Touch/Feel 7.5 Volleys 7.9
Overall 8.1
Kana's Scores
Power 7.5 Serves & Overheads 7.5
Control 7 Groundstrokes 7.5
Maneuverability 7 Returns 7.5
Stability 7 Slice 8
Comfort 6 Topspin 8
Touch/Feel 7 Volleys 7.8
Overall 7.5
Jackson's Scores
Power 8.5 Serves & Overheads 9
Control 9.3 Groundstrokes 8.8
Maneuverability 8.9 Returns 8.2
Stability 8.4 Slice 8.5
Comfort 9 Topspin 9
Touch/Feel 9.3 Volleys 9.2
Overall 8.7

Babolat Pure Drive GT Plus

Groundstrokes - Scores: 81

The extra half-inch in length provided more power than its Standard counterpart, resulting in better put-away potential.

The heavier swingweight of the GT Plus was a better fit for Chris. "The swingweight of this racquet was better suited to me than the standard length version. I was finding a little more plow through, and the racquet felt even more solid. I had no issues with the length of the racquet when I had time to set up for the ball, but this one isn't as whippy as the Standard version. When I was set up I was finding more power and spin on all of my groundstrokes. I thought this was an especially dynamite stick when I stepped inside the court and was looking to finish the point with one shot."

Kana also opted for the GT Plus. "Comparing the GT Plus to the GT, the specifications of the GT Plus fit me better. As the balance of the GT is 4 points headlight, the 6 pts head light of the GT Plus is more comfortable for me to swing. With this difference I can maneuver the stick a little better when it comes to certain angle or flick shots. One of my favorite backhand shots is a flick-of-the-wrist to produce a sharp angle shot to the service box. This stick really let me execute that shot in an aggressive fashion."

Expectations were met for Jackson. "Being a very solid racquet from the baseline, it was everything I had hoped for in the new Pure Drive series. It had much better feel than the first generation of cortex. I hit the pre-cortex racquet side by side with the new GT model and found that the new model is truer to the original Pure Drive than the first cortex model was. Feel was my biggest complaint when the cortex technology was introduced into the market. While trying to reduce the vibrations of the frame, Babolat effectively dampened most of the feel on the racquet. This new GT edition flaunts the cortex technology while improving feel from the previous generation of frames. The Graphite Tungsten material seems to transmit feel from the stringbed without transmitting the delinquent vibrations. With that being said, for the original Pure Drive junkies out there, this new stick didn't have quite the same solid, plow-through feel the original did. It's separate but equal -- getting similar results off the stringbed but with a slightly different feel. The power was still there and the extra half-inch definitely helped put the balls a little deeper into the court. With the light-feeling swingweight, I was able to generate the topspin needed to land the ball within inches of the baseline."

Sean felt the extra length improved his groundstrokes. "Luckily I was able to find the range. The added length actually improved my groundstrokes compared to the Standard version. Hits had a great, solid feel at impact and the feeling of the extra swingweight really increased the amount of power and spin I could generate. On the defensive end, I was able to run down a few extra balls and use a good slice shot to keep myself in the point."

Finding more consistency and power on his forehand was Spencer. "I really enjoyed the solid feel, as well as the power. As with most extended racquets, I sometimes feel I get handcuffed from time to time, feeling the racquet is too long. The forehand was my preferred shot with this one, as I felt I was more consistent with more power. On the backhand side I had consistency issues coming over the top, which is no surprise, as I've had this issue in the past with other extended length racquets. On the flip side, I enjoyed hitting the slice backhand and felt I could hit it pretty effectively."

Volleys - Scores: 77

Our playtesters were in agreement that the GT Plus offered superb punch and depth on volleys.

Sean liked the extra coverage he got at net. "Volleys definitely proved to be easier with the added length, and I found I had greater coverage, which was great for stretch volleys and overheads. With the added leverage, volleys had some extra punch when I needed it while still offering some good control and touch. Anything into the body was a little more difficult to deal with, though."

Finding extra punch was Chris. "I was getting some extra punch on volleys at net thanks to the added length of this racquet. There was enough control to help me find my targets, and I was volleying well. I didn't get tangled up by the added length and felt pretty comfortable with this racquet at net."

Kana felt more sure of herself when volleying. "I felt more confident with the half-inch at the net. With my height, lobs tend to be a consistent play when I come to the net. The half-inch and headlight balance really let me snap up to the higher shots and execute overheads. The touch of angles and the punch of deep volleys felt great."

Increased feel impressed Jackson. "It performed almost exactly as I expected. This frame had a little bit of increased feel when compared to the old model, allowing for hitting dying drop shots and deep, penetrating volleys that skidded inches above the court. The Plus model really showed its extra length at the net with a slight decrease in maneuverability. I noticed there were stretch volleys that I was just a fraction of a second slower getting the racquet to when compared to the Standard."

Spencer enjoyed the power. "Once again, the put-away power was nice. The racquet is pretty maneuverable and the extra length seems to help get the stringbed on more balls, but I was more consistent with the Standard."

Serves - Scores: 83

The leverage created with the extra length along with the specs makes this stick a weapon when serving.

Feeling this is the best serving racquet he's tested was Jackson. "Out of all the racquets I've tested, I still haven't found a racquet that puts up as many aces or serves as well as this one. It felt unfair to whoever was on the other side of the net. With a last minute pronation of the wrist, I could spin the ball out wide or flatten the ball down the center, put a kicker right into the body or put enough beef on it to get the ball above the shoulders of my opponent. Second serves went deep, with enough spin to make the return very difficult."

In agreement was Spencer. "Serving was my favorite aspect of this stick. I felt I could get the ultimate combination of power, action and placement. This was one of my favorite serving sticks of the year, if not the favorite. "

Chris especially liked the kick he obtained with this racquet. "The power and spin I found on serve was addictive. I felt like I was ripping the ball, and I was finding fewer serves were coming back. I loved the kick I could get on the ball with this stick. I had one of our test racquets strung up with Kirschbaum's Spiky Shark co-poly, and the spin from this set-up was awesome. What a fun stick to serve with."

Gaining a more offensive serve was Kana. "Considering my whopping 5'1" height, One of the weaker aspects of my game are serves. With the added half-inch, the GT Plus allowed me to reach higher while snapping up at the ball. I gained more spin and pop on my serves, creating a more offensive shot."

Sean felt the biggest asset of the extra length was on serves. "By far the biggest improvement with the added length was on serves. I found a ton of extra power and spin, which was great for aggressive serves. I felt confident that I could go for some bigger serves and even use my second serve as a weapon if needed. I did find that my first serve percentage increased, and that I could rely on my second serve as well. This racquet seemed to lend itself to serve and volley tactics, where a big serve and a good volley could end the point quickly."

Serve Returns - Scores: 79

This racquet helps create aggressive returns with plenty of pace and depth.

Chris liked the depth and pace he was getting. "The level of power was solid on returns. The racquet felt like it had more mass when in motion compared to the Standard, and I felt like I was getting more pace and depth with less effort. I felt like I could maneuver the racquet well and was confident on returns."

Happy with the variety of returns she could produce was Kana. "This stick felt comfortable on returns. Whether it be a quick punch or defensive play, it seemed to play into any shot I wanted to produce."

Jackson was thrilled with the power. "The extra length made stretching for wide serves a breeze. With the extra power, all I had to do was make sure that the stringbed intercepted the path of the ball, and I was left with a return of serve that was deep and heavy. With proper timing I had the ability to direct the ball to any part of the court, regardless of the angle it came at me."

Sean got aggressive with his returns. "Just like the Standard version, I had a lot of success hitting aggressive returns. The added length allowed me to get the ball back in play on some tough serves, the only exception being serves into the body, which were exceptionally difficult to fend off with this frame."

Spencer enjoyed the solid feel. "Like with groundstrokes, the solid feel was good. When I had time to set up I could hit a penetrating return. However, I had difficulties hitting solid returns against a harder server. I couldn't seem to get the ball to the sweetspot as easily as I could with the Standard. "

Overall - Scores: 80

Like the Pure Drive GT Standard, the Pure Drive GT Plus added a more solid feel than the previous Pure Drive Plus model. The added half-inch, as well as a slightly heavier static weight and swingweight, gave the GT Plus excellent penetration and put-away power. We found the finishing power to be evident from all areas of the court, but it seemed to shine the most when serving. This racquet offers a controlled power, and is a must try for those interested in an extended length racquet.

The "Likes" of the racquet.

Chris "The power and spin potential is amazing -- especially so with a co-poly like Kirschbaum's Spiky Shark. The added length really comes through on serves and big forehands."

Kana "The half-inch of extra length and head light balance was definitely to my liking. The spin this stick is able to produce is great for both offensive and defensive play, especially when attempting an effective slice."

Jackson "Booming serves went in consistently, without tearing my shoulder apart."

Sean "I typically stay with standard length racquets, although I found I prefer hitting with the Plus version of this racquet. The added weight and length seemed to really fit my game, especially when it came to hitting serves and groundstrokes. I really enjoyed being able to take full cuts at the ball, which is exactly what this racquet delivered."

Spencer "The torque, power and action I could get when serving."

The "Dislikes" of the racquet.

Chris "I'm not a huge fan of longer racquets, but this one makes me much fonder. No real dislikes for me."

Kana "The added Graphite Tungsten helped the overall frame feel more solid. Nevertheless, the Pure Drive still felt a little on the hollow side. If I had any sort of arm/shoulder pain on days I was playing I could really feel the impact of the ball on the string bed."

Jackson "Maneuverability was a little slow at the net, and there were remnants of vibrations that were detectable on groundstrokes."

Sean "The only area in which this racquet didn't excel was maneuverability. I felt like it was hard to defend myself when a shot was directed at the body, both at net and on service returns."

Spencer "I felt the extra length hurt my consistency."

Technical Specifications

Length27.5 inches70 centimeters
Head Size100 square inches645 square centimeters
Weight11.2 ounces318 grams
Balance Point13 inches
33 centimeters
6pts Head Light
Construction22-25 mm
CompositionGraphite / Kevlar
String Pattern16 Mains / 19 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating70Range: 0-100
Swing Weight330Range: 200-400

Babolat Pure Drive GT Plus Scores

Pure Drive GT Plus Scores
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Chris' Scores
Power 8.5 Serves & Overheads 8.4
Control 7.8 Groundstrokes 8.2
Maneuverability 7.9 Returns 8.2
Stability 7.9 Slice 7.8
Comfort 7.8 Topspin 8.3
Touch/Feel 7.3 Volleys 7.8
Overall 8
Sean's Scores
Power 7.6 Serves & Overheads 8.4
Control 7.4 Groundstrokes 8.2
Maneuverability 7 Returns 7.8
Stability 7.9 Slice 7.8
Comfort 8 Topspin 7.8
Touch/Feel 7.4 Volleys 7.4
Overall 8.1
Spencer's Scores
Power 8.5 Serves & Overheads 8.7
Control 7.4 Groundstrokes 7.8
Maneuverability 7.5 Returns 7.6
Stability 8.1 Slice 8.2
Comfort 8 Topspin 7.8
Touch/Feel 7.6 Volleys 7.5
Overall 8
Kana's Scores
Power 7.5 Serves & Overheads 8
Control 7 Groundstrokes 8
Maneuverability 7.5 Returns 7.5
Stability 7 Slice 8
Comfort 6 Topspin 8
Touch/Feel 7 Volleys 8
Overall 7.8
Jackson's Scores
Power 9.5 Serves & Overheads 9.9
Control 8 Groundstrokes 9.2
Maneuverability 8.2 Returns 9.2
Stability 8.5 Slice 8
Comfort 8 Topspin 9
Touch/Feel 8.8 Volleys 8.3
Overall 8.9

Playtester Profiles
Chris 5.0 All court player currently using the Becker Pro. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits 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.
Jackson 4.5 All court player currently using a Babolat Pure Drive Team. Jackson uses a semi-western forehand grip, and hits with a two-handed backhand.
Kana 5.0 baseliner with a western forehand and two-handed backhand. Currently using the ProKennex Black Ace 93.
Sean 4.5 baseliner using the Babolat Aeropro Drive Cortex. Sean has a semi-western forehand, 1 handed backhand.

Review date: July 2009. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2009 Tennis Warehouse.

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