Prince Ozone Pro Tour
Switching racquets can be a bit of a gamble -- especially if you're a professional player.
For the pros, a racquet is the tool of the trade. The racquet connects the player to the ball, and players, such as Boris Becker, have told us their racquets feel like an extension of their arm. Arguably, then, a racquet is the most important piece of equipment a player carries onto the court.
When switching racquets, most pros do it in the brief off-season before the Australian Open. Few change mid-season right before a big event. Nikolay Davydenko is the exception to the rule. At the 2008 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Davydenko took a gamble and entered the event with a brand new racquet. The gamble paid off as Davydenko added a second Masters Series title to his resume. On his way to capturing the Sony Ericsson title, Davydenko posted impressive wins over Andy Roddick in the semifinal and Rafael Nadal in the final.
The racquet Davydenko switched to is the Prince Ozone Pro Tour. The Ozone Pro Tour features a denser 18/20 string pattern, as well as more weight, when compared to his previous racquet, the Ozone Tour.
According to Prince, Davydenko playtested the Ozone Pro Tour between the Pacific Life Open and Sony Ericsson Open and immediately liked the feel of the denser string pattern. He went into the tournament with a couple of the new racquets in his bag but favored one frame in particular, sticking with it throughout the tournament. During the trophy presentation Davydenko told on-court reporter Mary Joe Fernandez that he would "keep this racquet forever".
If switching to the Ozone Pro Tour could fill Davydenko with such on-court confidence, we just had to hit the courts to see what it could do for us. After three weeks of testing, our team of dedicated playtesters reported back with the following findings.
Our testers enjoyed the solid response of the Ozone Pro Tour from the baseline. Chris enjoyed the feel from the tight string pattern. "I liked the response of this racquet off the ground. I was able to find lots of feel from the stringbed thanks to the tight string pattern. I prefer the added feel and control of a tight string pattern in the O3 racquets, as the Speedport Pro White also felt good to me. I was able to find ample topspin and slice when working the ball from the baseline. There was still that soft feel from the O3 ports, and I was finding plenty of power."
Liking the consistency of depth from the baseline was Granville. "After a brief warm-up I was hitting deep, penetrating groundies with consistency. Of special note is the comfort and ease with which I was doing it. There is ample power, which I attribute to the O3 Ports extending the stringbed for more trampoline and the 100 square inch head. The string was in tune with the racquet, as well, and I could feel some good pocketing adding to my accuracy. Additionally, I found a shot that I am not accustomed to hitting with such opportunity and ease, that being the inside out forehand, which I used to good effect.
Spencer liked how the weight of the racquet helped him hit through the ball. "This racquet provided a solid feel. The weight helped with plow-through and kept the ball on line. Though the dense string pattern helped with directional control, I had occasional issues with depth control. The lack of feedback led to some shots landing inside the baseline and some flying long, though they felt the same off the racquet head. I just felt the consistency was lacking when hitting from the baseline, as I thought the ball sometimes got lost in the stringbed." Having difficulties finding the groove was Jackson. "This stick was a particularly picky one. Groundstrokes off both sides were pretty inconsistent for me, especially off the forehand side. For those used to Prince's O ports, it shouldn't take too long to adjust your swing speed to end up with a pretty shot. If I swung too fast or used too much wrist action, I found the ball sinking into the bottom of the net. On the other side, if my strokes were spot on, the ball would graze the net, land deep, and take off the second it hit the ground. I found the racquet to be lower on the power side due to the dense string pattern, but amazing with spin potential because of the larger headsize (relative to other player racquets)."
The Ozone Pro Tour continued to impress our testers at net. Feeling a nice combination of power and feel at net was Granville. "The Ozone Pro Tour provides a very soft feel with a lively stringbed. It may lack that 'crisp' response which I like at the net, but the power and feel of this racquet make it very comfortable and familiar. It offered good touch for a 100 square inch head." Feeling comfortable when volleying was Jackson. "Whatever gripes I had with this stick on groundstrokes were made up for by the performance at the net. The racquet was very maneuverable, and I found myself hitting volleys I didn't know I could hit. It made me feel like a natural net player. Directing shots was easy, hitting low balls back deep was effortless and each ball that came off the stringbed felt like a solid shot. I never had any issues with the racquet feeling unstable or slipping in my hands against heavy shots."
Chris was impressed with the level of control. "This racquet felt very solid at net. The level of control I was finding was excellent. I loved the way the racquet remained stable, even when I was volleying hard hit shots. I found more feel from the stringbed than I expected from a racquet with O Ports, as they usually feel a bit muted. I attributed the added feel to the tighter string pattern. The Ozone Tour with its more open pattern doesn't have the feel of the Ozone Pro Tour." Spencer liked the available punch offered at net. "A healthy stringbed with a large sweetspot certainly helped with power and being able to keep volleys on line with good punch. Maneuverability was so-so, but the weight of the racquet made it easier to handle faster paced shots."
On serve the Ozone Pro Tour impressed our testers with easy access to pace and some solid plow-through. Granville liked the extra power he found with the racquet. "While providing a soft and powerful feel, the Ozone Pro Tour allowed me to get a bit more power compared to my regular racquet - without sacrificing control. Power and control always make a nice combination. The 18 mains gave me that little extra bite on the ball, which I enjoyed seeing on the wide kickers." Enjoying the pace and spin he produced was Chris. "I was able to find ample pace and spin on serve. Again, the racquet felt solid going through the ball and it felt like my serves were penetrating the court. It never felt like the ball was going to fly on me, and I felt confident I could remain consistent even when being aggressive."
Spencer liked how the racquet came through the ball. "The power and control were good, though I didn't get as much spin as I normally like. I did like how the racquet came through the ball, allowing me to put a smooth swing on it, helping my consistency." Seeking more consistency when serving was Jackson. "I didn't get the desired results when serving with this racquet. I was able to serve bombs from time to time when I put full effort into them, but after a while I found my shoulder giving me problems from trying to get the racquet head at the balls apex in time. The balance and movement of this racquet just seemed to not fit my service motion. As a result, I would hit the ball late and most of my serves would land long. The racquet inherently added more spin to my serve and took off some power, but it never added the surprising amount of spin that it added to my groundstrokes. Even on kick serves, I didn't notice too much additional spin."
The solid and stable response of the Ozone Pro Tour made for some solid hitting on service returns. Happy with the versatility when returning was Chris. "I liked the solid response of the racquet on returns. There was enough mass to block hard serves back with depth. When taking a cut at the ball I was finding ample control to get the job done with power and consistency." Granville enjoyed the options available when returning with the racquet. "On the return I looked at different possibilities. First, I can take the offensive by getting on top of the ball and driving it down the line. The Ozone Pro Tour allows me to do this with a bit more ease as the headsize is slightly larger than conventional midplus racquets. The other option was blocking or slicing the ball down the line, short cross court, or to my opponent's feet. Again, all options remained open with the Ozone Pro Tour."
Jackson returned well against hard servers. "I was solid on the returns as long as it was against someone whose power I could use to help the return. Any shot requiring me to put my own power into the ball was a risk. As I said earlier, I have to make sure all mechanics are flawless to hit a good shot with my own power. With that said, I had absolutely no problem hitting beautiful returns against heavy serves. If I utilized spin well, hitting out on returns was worth it since the spin brought balls down that would otherwise sail to the back fence. In short, I felt that I hit returns back more consistently and was able to put more pace on them against strong servers."
In agreement was Spencer. "Though the racquet felt sluggish at times, I had no issues getting the ball back. It handled hard serves with good stability."
The Prince Ozone Pro Tour's weight and feel reminded us we were hitting a player's racquet. The 100 square inch head size added plenty of forgiveness and power, while the weight of the Ozone Pro Tour provided good plow-through. Most of our team enjoyed the tighter string pattern as it seemed to add more control. Our testers found good results when hitting from the baseline, but all were very impressed with how this stick performed at net. With the success experienced on groundstrokes and at net, the Ozone Pro Tour is a great option for all-court players as well as those looking for the feel of a player's racquet. With plenty of forgiveness from all areas of the court, the Ozone Pro Tour is well worth a demo.
Review date: July 2008. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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