Pure Drive Roddick Review

If you're old enough to remember the days of wood racquets, then you'll remember the days of Signature racquets. Back in the day, racquets by all the leading brands were named after both male and female players. Everyone who was anyone had a Signature racquet.

Such notable players as Don Budge, Pancho Segura, Jack Kramer, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert represent a short list of those having a Signature racquet.

Sometimes you didn't even have to be a successful tennis player to have a Signature racquet - take for instance, the Joe Namath racquet of 1970.

For some reason, racquets stopped being named after popular players and started being named after things like weather conditions (Storm, Lightning, Thunder, Cyclone), animals (Hornet, Shark), space age technologies (Titanium, Nano), tools (Hammer), and perhaps the hardest to comprehend, a combination of letters and numbers that have little meaning to anyone other than the manufacturer (RDX 300, Ki 5 PSE).

Well, with the Babolat Pure Drive Roddick, we at last see the return of the Signature racquet (Roddick uses the Plus, 27.5 inch long version). It has been awhile since we've seen a new racquet named after a top ranked player, and we're glad to see this tradition come back to tennis.

As well as featuring Roddick's signature, the Roddick Pure Drives feature an all-new Babolat technology. Called Cortex, the technology is located just above the handle and is designed to filter out harmful racquet vibrations and shock without taking away the feedback needed for control and feel. The Pure Drive Roddick racquets are also made to a similar weight and balance as Roddick's personal racquets. This means these two additions to the Pure Drive family swing with more heft, with a weight and swingweight closer to a traditional player's racquet.

Whether you like the idea of Signature racquets or not, we're glad this new version of the Pure Drive has Roddick's Signature on it. With the updated Pure Drive Team Series racquets sharing the same Cortex filter technology and an almost identical cosmetic (the only differences being a different grip color and a gloss to the paint in the upper hoop), the Roddick signature on the side of the Pure Drive Roddick is about the only way to tell these racquets apart.

With plenty of inspiration to play like a top pro, we hit the courts for a three-week playtest to see if we could blast serves and forehands like the racquets' namesake.

Groundstrokes

We found the Pure Drive Roddick to offer a solid feel, some nice pop and a very spin friendly response from the baseline. Enjoying the response of the racquet from the baseline was Drew "I thought the Pure Drive Roddick was a good racquet and I found it to be very comfortable and stable from the baseline. I felt it had a similar feel to foam-filled racquets. This racquet has power, and I needed to hit with spin to keep my shots in. When hitting with spin I could stay in a rally, then switch gears and use the power to go for winners. My favorite shot was hitting big forehands, but I also liked the racquet when hitting an aggressive slice backhand." Also having fun unloading on some forehands with the Pure Drive Roddick was Jon. "The added weight over The Pure Drive Team made all the difference. This racquet has a lot of pop, maybe too much for my style of play, but I enjoyed hammering forehands at my opponents. However, I found the best fit was on my backhand. I thought the Pure Drive Roddick was a very friendly stick for two-handed backhands. It offered a generous sweetspot and was also very spin friendly."

Josh found the racquet more maneuverable than he expected. "I thought the racquet had a nice balance of pace and control. The spin potential was what one would expect from the Pure Drive Series, and topspin was most evident when I would take a ball at shoulder level. However, I thought it was lacking the feel off the strings that makes a solid backhand or forehand feel so good. The racquet was maneuverable along the baseline, and I was able to hit sharp angles from both the forehand and backhand sides. The racquet was easy to swing on forehands and I was able to take the ball well in front of my body, adding a little extra pace to my shots. Though it's listed at 11.7 ounces, the racquet swung much lighter."

Quickly finding himself addicted to the power of the Pure Drive Roddick was Chris. "I loved hitting with this racquet from the ground. I found more power and pace on my shots, with less effort required. I was really able to unload on some big forehands with this racquet. While this racquet is far more powerful than anything I would typically use, I soon found myself addicted to the extra power. I was able to rally with good pace and depth by just letting the powerful response of the racquet keep the ball deep and at rally pace. The most pleasing thing was, that I always had an abundance of power on tap for when I wanted to unwind and really rip a forehand or backhand. The amount of topspin I found on my groundstrokes with this racquet was insane. I haven't hit my groundstrokes as big since college, and I enjoyed an almost unbeaten run during the playtesting of this racquet. Slice was also impressive. I was able to take a very aggressive cut at the ball, finding enough spin to keep the ball in and make it skid very low off the bounce. When on the defensive, the racquet provided enough power for me to stay in the point. The racquet felt much heavier than the Pure Drive, but once in motion it seemed to really cut through the air and allow for very high swing speeds. I was finding all the spin friendliness of the Pure Drive, but with added stability at impact, better comfort, and more weight and pace on my shots."

Granville found some adjustment needed when hitting with the Pure Drive Roddick due to the power difference compared to his regular racquet. "The first few groundies were tough as this racquet felt very different compared to my Wilson Hyper ProStaff 6.1s. After warming up it got better, but in no way was this an easy racquet for me to use. I was not getting good pocketing, and it felt like the ball was flying off the string prematurely. Because of the stiffness of the frame I could feel the strings stretching with every hit, rather than feeling the customary flex of the racquet. The spin potential seemed high due to the strings cutting into the felt of the ball rather than the ball sinking into the stringbed."

Volleys

The Pure Drive Roddick offered a solid and crisp feel at net. Enjoying the response of the racquet when volleying was Chris. "The Pure Drive Roddick felt very solid at net. The racquet felt crisp like the regular Pure Drive, but the added weight made for a much more solid feel at impact. I was able to punch volleys deep and found excellent power to put away high volleys. The racquet did not provide the touch and feel I find with my Yonex RDX 500 Mid, but I soon made the adjustment needed to hit short angle and drop volleys with good consistency." Finding good pop and a crisp response, but struggling to get his volley fully dialed in at net was Josh. "At net the racquet had a crisp response, but I couldn't find the groove to handle passing shots hit with firm pace or added spin due to the power of the racquet. The racquet performed well on mid-court volleys, and overheads were easy to put away."

Continuing to enjoy the solid feel of the racquet when he attacked the net was Drew. "I found the same solid feel at net as I found at the baseline. It never felt like the racquet was getting pushed around. The racquet felt good when blocking volleys, and with a compact stroke I had good control. However, if I let my swing get a little long I had control issues due to the powerful response of the racquet." Granville would have liked a more head-light balance from the racquet for his net play. "Simply as a function of the mass, the racquet was very solid at the net. Maneuverability suffers a bit due to the weight and the mere 5 points head-light balance. I felt with the racquet at 11.9 ounces, a more head-light balance might have improved the maneuverability." Finding a good level of control and comfort at net was Jon. "With the 100 square inch headsize, I had plenty of real estate to volley or drop volley. Control and comfort were good. This was not my favorite stick at the net, but it did get the job done. I just didn't feel I had the feel that my Dunlop Muscle Weave 200G gives me."

Serves

While our team may not have reached Roddick proportions on serve with the Pure Drive Roddick, everyone found plenty of pace and spin. There was no doubt from our group of testers that the racquet offered plenty of performance for hitting big serves. Josh found a very high percentage of points won on both his first and second serves with the Pure Drive Roddick. "I found my serving with the Pure Drive Roddick was much like when I used the original Pure Drive; plenty of pace and spin potential matched with a confidence that the opponent won't be able to return my first serve. For me, that's what the Pure Drive is all about, and this version didn't disappoint. I found many of my first serves were virtually untouchable, and my second serves had plenty of kick to put my opponent on the defensive." Granville found good targeting when serving with the Pure Drive Roddick. "The stringbed seemed to offer a very true hitting surface and I found I could place the ball where I needed. It offered power on every shot, and it would take some added time for me to tame this stick when hitting the heater. No doubt that with some more time I could begin unloading on some big serves, as the power was there." Drew found the Pure Drive Roddick a fun racquet to serve with. "I preferred the feel and response of this racquet to the past Pure Drive. Again, it offered a solid feel and was a fun racquet to serve with. I found lots of spin, good power and more comfort on serve."

Enjoying the response of the racquet on serve was Jon. "The Pure Drive Roddick has huge power potential, great spin, and was a very lethal serving tool. I serve mostly kick serves, and I will say the spin and power was awesome with this racquet. This was the strongest area of my game when playtesting this racquet. Maybe too powerful, as I did have some trouble getting my flat serve in, but I wasn't missing by much and the power was incredible. With a little more practice, I could probably harness this power and have a pretty tough service game." Finding his serve much improved with Pure Drive Roddick was Chris. "I loved serving with this racquet. Since injuring my arm last year I've been missing some power and aggression on serve. With the Pure Drive Roddick, I was finally able to tap into the power and spin needed to hit aggressive serves without without putting a lot of stress on my arm. With this racquet, it felt like I was able to find power from both the stiffness and weight of the racquet. I was able to serve very aggressively while still holding plenty back. My spin serves had plenty of kick, and I was much more aggressive with my second serves. It was nice to be finally winning some easy points on serve and starting off most points being the aggressor."

Return of Serve

Our team found the Pure Drive Roddick to offer a combination of maneuverability and stability that was well suited to returning serve. Finding good maneuverability with the Pure Drive Roddick was Josh. "The racquet had a fast swing speed that definitely helped my return game. I was able to jump on serves hit to my backhand, and whip through serves hit to the forehand side. First serves were a little difficult to handle due to the power of the racquet, but overall the Pure Drive Roddick performed well when I was returning." Chris enjoyed the maneuverability and comfort of the racquet on return. "I found a great fit for my return game with this racquet. Being a standard 27 inches in length, it was much easier for me to get around the ball with this racquet compared to the longer Plus version. I'm used to playing with a 12 ounce racquet, and found the weight and balance of the Pure Drive Roddick to feel very maneuverable in comparison. I enjoyed good pace and spin on my returns. The racquet always felt stable at impact and there was no harshness on off center shots. I'm not sure if it was the increased weight or the new Babolat Cortex System, but this racquet felt much more comfortable on the return compared to the regular Pure Drive."

Taking an aggressive cut at slower serves was Jon. "As with groundstrokes, I noticed the extra weight over the Pure Drive Team provided increased stability and control. Against hard flat servers I still found myself blocking the serve back quite often because my full return stroke was not predictable. On second serves or kick serves, I could take a normal swing and confidently place the ball. Serves with a lot of pace seemed to give me trouble. The power of the racquet forced me to hit with a lot of topspin and I found myself without the needed time to brush up on the ball against fast serves. When I did overhit it was mostly from the forehand side, and I found the power of the racquet more beneficial to my backhand wing." Granville found the Pure Drive Roddick effective on return both when hitting aggressively and defensively. "I found this racquet to be very effective on returns. I was able to block the biggest serves my opponent could throw at me. When given the opportunity I could get over the ball and take the offensive."

Overall

Our team found the Pure Drive Roddick to offer improved stability and comfort from every area of the court compared to the Pure Drive Team. There's no doubt that the increased weight of the Pure Drive Roddick was a better fit for our "player's racquet" loving test crew. While we welcomed the added weight, we were also pleased to find the power and spin friendly response we loved with the Pure Drive to still be very much intact. If you are an aggressive player who loves hitting big forehands, it doesn't get much better than this. There's no doubt the Pure Drive Team has redefined the player's racquet category by attracting more advanced players to stiffer, lighter racquets, and this version just sweetens the deal. Advanced players who may have found the Pure Drive family too light in the past may find this Roddick version an ideal fit.

Last Shots from our playtesters

Chris - "During this playtest, it was not long before I found myself wanting to play with the Pure Drive Roddick whenever I hit the courts. My level of play picked up noticeably whenever I had this racquet in my hand and my fondness and enthusiasm for this racquet became a running joke with some of the other playtesters. With the Pure Drive Roddick, I'm playing my best tennis in years and I have no intention of letting that go. While I'll always love the touch and feel of the RDX 500 Mid, I just cannot resist the power, spin and consistency I find with the Pure Drive Roddick. In fact, you could say I'm addicted. I'm switching to this racquet, it's as simple as that."

Drew - "I liked the solid feel of this racquet and it was fun to play with. The comfort reminded me of hitting with a foam filled racquet. There was lots of spin and good power, which made it a good match for aggressive hitting."

Granville - "For such an extremely stiff racquet I did find some good touch. I did not miss a drop shot during my testing and I was able to hit deep, effective approach shots."

Jon - "The Pure Drive Roddick is a solid racquet. It's not really my cup of tea, as I prefer a more flexible feel from the racquet, but I would not hesitate to recommend this racquet to other players."

Josh - "The Pure Drive Roddick is a steady performer that maintains the tradition of the popular original. I would have just liked a little more control at net."

Babolat Pure Drive Roddick Standard scores

Babolat Pure Drive Roddick Standard
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size100 square inches645 square centimeters
Weight11.7 ounces332 grams
Balance Point12.875 inches
33 centimeters
5pts Head Light
Construction22-26-23 Tapered Beam
CompositionGraphite / Kevlar
String Pattern16 Mains / 19 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating71Range: 0-100
Swing Weight330Range: 200-400

Pure Drive Roddick Plus

Groundstrokes

Our team found some added weight and power on their groundstrokes when switching to the Pure Drive Roddick Plus. Enjoying the power of the racquet from the baseline was Chris. "Off the ground it was a tough call for me as to which racquet I preferred, the Plus or the regular length Pure Drive Roddick. When trading groundstrokes, the added length and higher swingweight did not seem to provide any maneuverability issues. I found even more power and stability than I did with the standard length version. I think it's safe to say that I hit some of the most powerful forehands of my life with this racquet. While I wasn't quite as consistent with this racquet on my forehand, it sure was fun to try and rip the felt off the ball at every opportunity. I also found some extra pace and depth with my backhand, and I think players with two-handed strokes will really like this racquet. Spin was impressive off both wings. I found lots of topspin, which enabled me to be very aggressive on lobs and angles. The racquet also felt very solid when hitting slice shots. I got a lot of spin and bite on the ball, which enabled me to hit with more power yet stay consistent." Struggling to find the groove with the longer Pure Drive Roddick Plus was Granville. "That extra half inch is most noticeable to me during the backswing. It felt a bit hefty and forced me to adjust my stance for the hitting zone. The extra length just does not suit my game."

Josh found increased power without any compromise in maneuverability with the Pure Drive Roddick Plus. "The racquet felt similar to the original Pure Drive Plus and seemed more evenly balanced than 5 points head-light. Whereas the Pure Drive Team Plus was lacking a bit of substance, this version offered a little too much spring. Once I adjusted to the power, I felt very comfortable hitting from either side of the court. As mentioned on our site, the Plus has some heft to go with its longer length, but for me the maneuverability wasn't compromised." Finding the racquet a good fit for his topspin backhand was Jon. "The Pure Drive Roddick Plus felt much weightier in my hand than the standard length version. Like the standard, it also had a generous sweetspot and was very spin friendly. The one area which I enjoyed the added length was with the two-handed backhand. The increase in length, weight and power made this racquet a good fit for hitting topspin backhands."

Drew found impressive power and accuracy on his shots when given the time to set up. "I had even more power on my forehand here than with the standard length Pure Drive Roddick. The spectacular winners I hit were even more spectacular. On the other hand, missed shots missed their mark by a greater margin. Like the standard length version, I found good stability, with a solid and comfortable feel. I was able to generate both topspin and slice in impressive quantities. I definitely had more trouble catching up to high topspin backhands with this longer version. Likewise, on the forehand side, I had a little trouble picking up deep shots that landed near my baseline. With the standard length version I had good success returning them, but with the Plus my shots tended to land long."

Volleys

We found the Pure Drive Roddick Plus to offer a solid and stable response at net. Finding an impressive level of comfort was Josh. "The one thing that hasn't changed with the Signature line is the feel at net. The racquet was comfortable and stable on off-center shots, but the touch just didn't exist for me. I couldn't get much going on volleys, especially those hit at shoulder level. The extended length was nice to have when defending passing shots, but to me the racquet felt best suited for baseliners." Granville also liked the solid feel off the stringbed. "This racquet felt solid and stable. Again, I found myself wishing for more maneuverability. The added length and mere 5 pts head light balance just enhanced the hefty feel and the increased length."

Finding excellent power for finishing off high volleys and overheads was Chris. "I definitely noticed the added length at net. The racquet did not feel as fast and maneuverable as the standard length version. I did enjoy the solid response and found good power on my shots when needed. It was very easy to dispatch a high volley or overhead with this racquet. Just a simple punch or flick of the wrist would send the ball away with ample pace for a clean winner. When the pace picked up and my opponents started to rip their passing attempts, the racquet stayed solid and comfortable." Drew preferred the feel and response of the racquet on compact, block volleys. "The racquet was very comfortable at net. There was a solid feel at contact and I was finding good accuracy when blocking volleys for angle and touch shot. As with the standard length version, I got in trouble if I was tempted to take a bigger swing at the ball. If I got carried away and swung at a high volley, I tended to miss long due to the power of the racquet." Finding the Pure Drive Roddick Plus a good fit for his net game was Jon. "I liked the extra length at the net. I had a little extra reach and a little more weight in the head giving me more control when volleying. I didn't sense much difference in maneuverability at the net between the Pure Drive Roddick Plus and the standard length version."

Serves

With its longer 27.5" length, the Pure Drive Roddick offers even more power and reach on serve. Hitting some deep, penetrating serves with the racquet was Josh. "Anyone needing a lift in their service game will appreciate the Pure Drive Roddick Plus. The extended length gives players enough extra reach to hit serves deeper in the box and keep opponents honest on the baseline. The original Pure Drive Plus offered more pace on serves, but this Roddick model offers a little more weight behind the ball. The spin potential is generous, and both my first and second serves felt solid and controlled." Finding more power and spin, but less consistency on serve was Jon. "I couldn't seem to get into a good groove serving with the Pure Drive Roddick Plus. I rarely hit with longer racquets, so it took some time to adjust. I got great spin and excellent power, but my consistency suffered."

Also struggling to serve with consistent pace and power was Chris. "I never felt like I truly tapped into the potential of this racquet on serve. I failed to consistently use the added length to find more power and spin. It was harder to get the racquet around the ball and my swing speed felt slower with this racquet. While I was still serving very well, I never found the pace and spin that I found with the standard length version. I was serving at about the same level I would with my RDX 500 Mid, which just seemed like a huge letdown when compared to the results I was having with the standard length Pure Drive Roddick." Granville enjoyed the weight and feel of the racquet on serve. "I was consciously tossing the ball a bit higher in hopes of capitalizing on the added length but never really got it dialed in. The weight felt good and I thought it felt very solid when serving."

Having the best results on serve with the Pure Drive Roddick Plus was Drew. "I served better with the Pure Drive Roddick Plus compared to the standard length version. I felt like I was hitting a heavier serve and had less first serves come back when using this racquet. I found good spin on topspin and slice serves. It didn't matter if it was a first or second serve, every serve I hit had me starting the point on the offensive."

Return of Serve

When returning serve with the Pure Drive Roddick Plus our team found a solid, powerful and comfortable response. Taking an aggressive stance when returning second serves was Drew. "I could take a good swing at the ball on slower serves, especially with my forehand. On faster serves I had the most success blocking the ball back and using the server's pace. I thought the racquet offered a comfortable and solid feel with enough mass to handle heavier serves." Finding the most success when blocking the return was Granville. "I returned well with this racquet - blocking the ball with confidence both cross court and down the line, short or deep. On the flip side, I was hesitant to really hit out with this racquet as the any error in timing resulted in the ball flying long."

Chris said, "Towards the end of the test I was sure I was switching to a Pure Drive Roddick. The only question that remained was which one? While I loved both off the ground, every point must start with a serve or return. It was largely those two shots which helped me make my decision. With the Pure Drive Roddick Plus I was finding myself late on too many returns. The racquet was not as maneuverable and I did not find myself set up well enough to consistently exploit the potential of the racquet. To have all that power and spin on tap, yet not be able to use it brought on a level of frustration I can only imagine must be felt by Porsche drivers when they get stuck behind my 1968 VW Bus on a long, twisty road. When everything did click, I hit some big returns. I was able to hit some clean winners as well as put the server immediately on the defensive. I just found myself being consistently more aggressive with the standard length version."

Enjoying the stable response of the racquet was Josh. "The Pure Drive Roddick Plus was an easy racquet to return with. The biggest feature on returns was the stability of the racquet. The Plus seemed to handle various spin and pace with ease. Slice returns were a little tough to keep down, but the spin potential made returns tough to handle for my opponent. Compared to the Pure Drive Team Plus, the Signature model outperforms without question." Jon said, "Returning serve with this racquet was not all that different from the standard length Pure Drive Roddick. If anything, this version felt slightly heavier and seemed to have more power, but for me there was not a huge difference between the two."

Overall

The Pure Drive Roddick Plus offers more power and weight on shots compared to its standard length brother. Our team found a solid feel, impressive stability and a comfortable response from this racquet. The higher swingweight makes this longer version a little more demanding when the player has less time to set up for a shot. However, not all of our team found the extra length and swingweight a challenge, and those with two-handed shots especially liked the feel and weight of the racquet. If you're a fan of longer racquets (or have always wanted to try one) the Pure Drive Roddick Plus should be at the top of your demo list.

Last Shots from our playtesters

Chris - "If I only ever played groundstroke games, I'd switch to this racquet in a heartbeat. I really loved the response of this racquet from the baseline. However, I was never able to click consistently with it when serving and returning. While I liked this one a lot, I loved the standard length version."

Drew - "I found the Pure Drive Roddick Plus to offer even more power than the standard length version. Again, comfort was good and I liked the solid feel of the racquet. I was able to hit some big first and second serves and felt I started all my service game points on the offensive."

Granville - "This racquet plays very much like its standard length brother but feels a bit more hefty due to the extra 1/2 inch length."

Jon - "The standard length version seemed to do everything this longer version did, and did it better. I personally prefer the standard over the Plus."

Josh - "I have never been a big fan of Andy Roddick or the Pure Drive racquets, but this Signature model has been tweaked enough to change my outlook. Players "driven" by their success with the original should give the new arrival a test drive. The subtle changes are definitely a welcome update."

Babolat Pure Drive Roddick Plus scores

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

Technical Specifications

Length27.5 inches70 centimeters
Head Size100 square inches645 square centimeters
Weight11.7 ounces332 grams
Balance Point13.125 inches
33 centimeters
5pts Head Light
Construction22-26-23 Tapered Beam
CompositionGraphite / Kevlar
String Pattern16 Mains / 19 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating71Range: 0-100
Swing Weight340Range: 200-400
Playtester Profiles
Chris 5.0 baseline player now using the Babolat Pure Drive Roddick. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a two-handed backhand.
Josh 4.0 all court player currently using a Wilson ProStaff Original 85. Josh has a long, loopy swingstyle, hits with a one-handed backhand and a semi-western forehand.
Drew 4.5 All court player currently using the Liquid Metal Radical Mid Plus. Drew has a fast swing style, semi-western forehand and a one-handed backhand.
Jon 4.5 baseline basher with a big kick serve currently using a Dunlop Muscle Weave 200G. Jon uses a semi-western forehand grip, has a full fast swing style and hits a two-handed backhand.
Granville Granville 5.5 all-court player currently using a Wilson Hyper ProStaff 6.1. 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.

Review date: June 2006. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2006 Tennis Warehouse.

return
to home
Toll Free in the U.S. 1-800-8-TENNIS  |  U.S. Customer Email info@tennis-warehouse.com
International Email twint@tennis-warehouse.com