Dunlop Aerogel 4D 300 Tour Racquet Review
James Blake is one of the more flamboyant players on the ATP tour. His fearless, all out attacking style of play has won him many fans around the world.
Blake's super aggressive style of play demands a stick that will help him keep shots between the lines. For Blake then, precision is the name of the game. To meet his needs, Dunlop has created the Aerogel 4D 300 Tour.
Offering a flexible response (63 RA), lots of feel and a control oriented 18x20 string pattern, the Aerogel 4D 300 Tour seems to have the specs to fit the bill. With its 98 square-inch headsize, standard length and 20mm box beam construction, the Aerogel 4D 300 Tour has a lot of classic player's racquet traits, albeit at a slightly lighter weight (11.3 ounces strung).
To put the Aerogel 4D 300 Tour to the test we hit the courts for a month-long playtest. We did our best to swing as aggressively as Blake.
Groundstrokes - Score: 83
The Dunlop Aerogel 4D 300 Tour was a great fit for our playtesters. We loved the combination of control, spin and maneuverability this racquet provided. Spencer loved the feel of the racquet from the outset. "Weight-wise, the 300 Tour is right in my wheel-house, so I was very eager to get on the court. Much to my delight, it did not disappoint. At just over 11 ounces, the 300 Tour felt great in the hand, and equally great when hitting from the baseline. The swingweight was good for me. It was light enough for good maneuverability, yet had enough mass to provide a solid feel with sufficient stability. I had good directional control along with good depth off both wings. When strung up with a soft poly (my preference), the spin I was getting was great. I found this stick to be versatile when hitting groundstrokes, as I felt confident mixing up pace and depth, not to mention hitting with a lot of spin or hitting flat."
Taking big cuts at the ball was Chris. "The faster I swung, the better this racquet performed, and I was taking big cuts at the ball while flirting with the lines. I was getting a lot of feel from the stringbed, and the lightness of this stick meant I needed to swing fast to get some plow through. Needless to say, with all that racquet head speed I was finding lots of spin. I liked the amount of hop my topspin groundies had and I was able to keep my backhand slice low. The feel from the stringbed enabled gave me a lot of control on drop shots. I liked this stick with both multifilament and co-poly string. Usually I find the ball to fly a tad when using a multi, but with this stick I could still keep shots within the lines."
Jason had great success from the baseline. "I loved this racquet from the baseline. Even when strung with poly, I still got plenty of pop on my shots. This racquet felt a tad more powerful than my own stick (great for putting away shots), but it does not have as much control. I preferred hitting crosscourt shots more than down the line with this stick. The feel of the racquet was great. It felt crisp and had plenty of feedback. Even with an 18 x 20 string pattern my slice and topspin shots had loads of spin. This stick was maneuverable enough to easily hit shots on the run as well as hitting high bouncers to either wing."
Controlling her shots well was Tiffani. "This was a great fit for my game off the ground. The tight string pattern offered me loads of control, so I could put the ball right where I wanted it. Maneuverability was a huge plus as well. I loved stepping in for a backhand crosscourt or down the line. I also didn't experience an extra firm stringbed sensation I sometimes find with the tighter string patterns, so I liked the feel. Though control was the standout feature, I still was finding enough power off a full swing. I could really feel the racquet flex against a big hitter. I felt, however, that if I kept up with a fast swing the racquet could handle it and swing through without vibrating or jarring my arm."
Relative to his own racquet, Granville appreciated this lighter stick. "I was comfortable with this racquet after just a few swings. Instantly noticeable to me was the lighter weight of the racquet compared to my regular 12.5-ounce Wilson KSix-One 95 18x20, yet the head light balance felt very familiar. That one less ounce of weight made for a significantly more maneuverable racquet. The racquet seemed to cut through the air as if it were more aerodynamic; of course it was simply the weight. Of special interest to me was impacting the ball with that reduced mass. To my delight, the racquet was pounding the ball and offering the same stable feel of a heavier stick. The 18 main strings offered that little bit of extra friction on the ball to give me an extra dimension of control."
Volleys - Score: 80
At net, the Dunlop Aerogel 4D 300 Tour's maneuverability proved to be an asset. Performing well up at net was Tiffani. "I took this out for some doubles and was more than pleased with it at net. As I've said in other reviews, I struggle with touch, but for me touch was easier to find with this Dunlop. The response was always clean off the stringbed, and the power level was decent. Overall, I was really getting good control at net as well as plenty of mobility."
Chris was able to hit a varied selection of shots with positive results. "This was a very maneuverable stick at net. I loved the feel and control I was getting. I was able to cut some nice angle volleys and bleed pace off passing attempts when needed. If I were to continue using this stick I would likely add some weight for a little added punch on deep volleys, but even in stock form I was impressed with the results I was getting."
Granville was impressed with the mobility of this stick at net. "Once again, I was enjoying the benefits of that missing ounce of weight. More maneuverability translated into faster reflexes at the net. It was simply easier to move this racquet around, and this racquet had a very nice, soft pocketing feel. That feel opened up a few extra options, like a touch volley or drop shot that might have gotten away from me with a heavier/slower racquet."
Also enjoying the feedback from the racquet at net was Jason. "I liked the feel of this racquet at the net. Because of my inconsistency at the net, I noticed the racquet to be a bit unstable outside the sweetspot. Maneuverability was good, but when shots landed near the frame there was a noticeable drop in power. On the plus side, I especially liked the mobility of this stick while hitting volleys."
Spencer liked the combination of characteristics from this racquet at net. "I found a nice balance of punch and feel when at net. The maneuverability was good, which helped me get the racquet into the proper position before impact. From there, the balance of power and feel was very fair."
Serves - Score: 84
Our TW playtesters were most impressed with how the Dunlop Aerogel 4D 300 Tour performed on serve. Allowing for power, control and spin, this stick was a good fit for all. Jason loved the predictability and dependability he found on serve. "Probably my favorite aspect about this racquet was serving. I was very consistent serving with the 300 Tour. I found a nice blend of power and control on my first serves, and I was able to spin in a high percentage of second serves."
Finding solid results on serve was Spencer. "I felt I served well with this stick. It didn't seem to matter what string was in there, I felt that I was able to get good action on the ball. (Okay, I might have gotten a little bit more sizzle with a co-poly). Like most player's sticks I hit with, I find more consistency and success when I let the mass of the racquet work for me."
Chris found plenty of racquet head speed when serving with the 4D 300 Tour. "Thanks to the light feel of this stick I was getting lots of swing speed on serves. With all that speed I was able to get lots of slice and topspin. My slice kicker out wide was hopping off the court nicely. The best part of serving for me was that I was able to move the ball around the service boxes with a variety of spin. I felt there was plenty of room for some added weight to improve the penetration of my serves without losing maneuverability."
Loving the response of the racquet on serve was Tiffani. "This is one of my favorite shots with the 4D 300 Tour. Usually my preference is to serve with extended length racquets because I feel I get the extra pop that I want. Though I found the 4D 300 Tour to be a control-oriented stick, I felt this one coming around on serve nicely, giving me some power that I wasn't expecting. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but it seemed there was a bit more action on my serves than usual."
Granville was finding some added pace and hop on his serves with the 4D 300 Tour. "This is the shot that really opened my eyes to the possibility of switching. I love serving with this racquet. First and foremost, I am more consistent with it. Second, being lighter I can get the racquet around faster, generating more spin and more kick. Lastly, I think I am serving harder with this racquet than my heavier racquet. Balls are regularly hitting an extra foot or two higher off the back fence -- maybe it's the greater swing speed or maybe it's the braided graphite launching the ball? One thing I know for sure, I served very, very well with this 4D 300 Tour and have never been more confident with another racquet."
Serve Returns - Score: 80
The maneuverable feel and control oriented response of the 4D 300 Tour proved to be a perfect fit for hitting service returns. Chris was able to be aggressive on returns. "I was able to get the racquet around the ball quickly. Again, I was finding lots of spin and I felt confident going for aggressive targeting. When going for a deep return I could whip this stick through contact to get some nice spin. When playing doubles I was able to easily bleed pace off the serve to drop the ball at the net rusher's feet. This was a nice stick to return with."
Spencer continued to enjoy the broad reaching performance of the 4D 300 Tour. "This racquet offered a lot of options on returns. With impressive mobility, power, spin, and stability from the 4D 300 Tour, I could handle all types of serves and servers. This is definitely a racquet I like in my hand when on the receiving end of a serve."
Finding a solid response from the racquet was Jason. "This racquet was very solid in this area. When returning against big servers I was able to just take a half swing and get the ball back with pace. On slower serves I was really able to tee off on the ball."
Tiffani was hitting with consistency while returning with the 4D 300 Tour. "The maneuverability of the racquet stood out here. I didn't have any problems getting it around on serve returns, and I got the same control I had found on groundstrokes. I didn't hit many attacking returns, but I was able to get into points with ease."
Enjoying the blend of mass and maneuverability was Granville. "I'm always one to believe you should play with the heaviest racquet you are comfortable with. This 4D 300 Tour has just enough mass to handle all but the biggest serves. If returning 102mph plus, I may want to add some lead to assist with stability - anything under that and this racquet is stable, nimble and reflexive feeling. As with the best player's sticks, I could get over the ball early and take the offensive, or hang back and bleed some pace off the ball with some precision and placement. I was slicing my backhand returns and approaching to take the offensive very effectively with this racquet."
Overall - Score: 83
At the conclusion of this test it came as no surprise to us that this is James Blake's racquet of choice. With its maneuverable and control oriented response, this is the ideal stick for the player who likes to attack, attack, then attack the ball some more. Our testers found the feel and control from this racquet to be top-notch. The response from the stringbed proved to be 100 percent predictable, allowing for full, aggressive swings from all areas of the court. The maneuverability also had our testers swinging fast, making spin production a snap. Despite the varied playing styles and level of our testers, the Aerogel 4D 300 Tour proved versatile enough to appeal to all. We were impressed enough to say you've got to add this one to your demo list no matter what type of player you are.
Review date: APRIL 2009. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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