Rarely does a racquet come along that garners as much attention and mystique as the professional players that use it.
The HEAD Prestige, in its various incarnations, is such a racquet. It has been the go to choice for some of the game's most entertaining, artistic and popular players.
Marat Safin, Gustavo Kuerten, Goran Ivanisevic and Henri Leconte head the list of players revered as much for their charisma and mystique as their on-court achievements. Each of these players possesses the shot making skills capable of inspiring a standing ovation, and each of these players has chosen to use a form of the Prestige racquet during their careers.
The Prestige is renowned as a racquet offering exceptional feel and control, so it's not surprising many professional level players have used it. The appeal of the Prestige line has also successfully made the transition to the amateur ranks. The same feel, control and precision enjoyed by the pros has long been pleasing Prestige fans of all ages in amateur competition and club play.
Looking to the future, as HEAD Tour players Donald Young and Gael Monfils move away from junior competition towards professional play, they have chosen the latest Prestige as their racquet of choice. While their place in tennis history is yet to be written, when we hit the courts with their favored Flexpoint Prestige racquets, we were sure HEAD had another winner in the making.
Here we test all three versions of the Flexpoint Prestige: the Mid, Midplus and Midplus XL. Read on to find out how this latest development in the Prestige legacy holds up.
HEAD Flexpoint Prestige Mid
Our team found a controlled response from the Flexpoint Prestige Mid when trading groundstrokes. Finding the precision he's come to expect from midsize racquets was Granville. - "Kind of like hearing a favorite old song, the Mid has that familiar crisp response. The Mid also has a small sweet spot, but when you key into it it's something to remember. Anyone considering this racquet knows what to expect, a performance racquet created for the highest levels of competition. Your game needs to be in order to get the most out of this racquet. Precision is very high and power is on the low side. This racquet is created for the player who generates their own power and wants nothing from a racquet other than putting the ball on a dime." Enjoying some nice slice with the Flexpoint Prestige Mid was Brad. "Control was the first thing that came to my mind when I first started hitting with this racquet. Right out of the gates it was easy to see why many consider the Prestige line to be a part of the upper echelon of player's racquets. Off the ground I felt that I needed to have early preparation and make good contact with the sweetspot in order to get good depth on my groundstrokes. I found that the sweetspot on this racquet was small and when I did hit the ball off-center, I was not nearly as accurate or powerful. The thin beam of this racquet made it easier to slice the ball, especially on backhands. I soon found myself slicing a lot of balls back when hitting my backhand."
Finding the Flexpoint Prestige Mid to be the most powerful Prestige Mid he's used was Chris. "From the first forehand I hit, there was no doubt that this was the most powerful version of the Prestige Mid I've used - and I've had the pleasure of hitting with almost all of them. The racquet felt noticeably firmer than any previous Prestige Mid. Gone is the soft and buttery feel of the Prestige Classic 600. I found it to be replaced by a much firmer and more solid feel. While I have always loved the feel of the Prestige Classic 600, I must say the bump up in power was quite welcome. I found all the classic control of a midsize racquet, but I enjoyed some added pace and weight on my shots. One downside was spin. Switching between the Flexpoint Prestige Mid, the Liquidmetal Prestige and the Prestige Classic 600, the Classic version just felt more spin friendly - especially when hitting with slice." Jon found a solid response from the racquet. "The Mid was very stable and very solid from the baseline. I enjoyed the added control of the dense string pattern and small head size. From the baseline this was my flavor of choice from the Flexpoint Prestige lineup."
We found lots of control, touch and feel to help us finish off the point at net with the Flexpoint Prestige Mid. Chris enjoyed a crisp response from the racquet at net. "At net, the Flexpoint Prestige Mid felt much crisper and firmer than previous Prestige racquets. I thought this version offered a much cleaner and more solid feel compared to the Liquidmetal Prestige it replaces. While I enjoyed the Liquidmetal Prestige, its feel was a tad hollow at net. With the Flexpoint Prestige, HEAD has remedied that, and this one feels nice and solid on the volley. Control was exceptional and I felt like I could park my volley on a dime with this racquet." Granville found the racquet to reward good form with solid and precise results. "This is one of the few racquets that I affectionately call a 'scalpel'. It is a tool for the craftsman at net. The head-light balance made it feel quick in my hands and the crisp response offered positive feedback. When well prepared with the racquet out front and weight moving forward - there's nothing better. The heavier weight allowed the racquet to do much of the work."
Brad enjoyed the maneuverable feel of the racquet at net. "I played mostly doubles while playtesting the Flexpoint Prestige Mid. When I was able to get the ball on the sweetspot and make good contact with the ball, my volleys landed deep into the court and they felt crisp and solid. However, if I didn't strike the ball cleanly, I found my volleys landed short and with less pace. The maneuverability of the Flexpoint Prestige Mid made it easy to get the racquet around and into place, and I felt that volleys were one of the better shots with this racquet." Jon would have liked a larger lot on which to build his net game. "Volleys were comfortable, but I would have liked a larger sweetspot and a few more square inches to the racquet head. Sometimes on off-center hits the ball would just drop short, whereas if Ihad had slightly more hitting surface I felt my volleys would be more effective. Control was great, though!"
The controlled response of the Flexpoint Prestige Mid made for some consistent serving from our playtesters. The Mid was Chris' favorite of the three Flexpoint Prestige racquets when it came to serving. "I found the racquet to cut through the air very well when serving. The feel of a midsize on a fast swing is one of the reasons I've always enjoyed hitting with sub 95 square inch racquets. Again, the Flexpoint Prestige Mid offered more power than previous versions and I found decent pace on my serves. Out of the three headsizes tested, this one was my favorite on serve. I found the most amount of spin from the racquet when serving. I think the faster racquet head speed helped me keep some height to my kick serves." Finding more control, but less pace on his serve with the Flexpoint Prestige Mid was Brad. "I found that my serves lacked a little bit of power when serving with this racquet. The extra weight, compared to my RDX 500 Midplus, made it harder to generate racquet head speed. I did find that I had a lot more control and was able to place the ball out wide easier than usual. I really struggled with my second serves with this racquet. I normally hit a kick serve for my second serve, but I found it hard to generate much kick/spin with the smaller headsize and tighter string pattern."
Finding more power from the Flexpoint Prestige Mid compared to its Liquidmetal predecessor was Jon. "I enjoyed serving with the Flexpoint Prestige Mid. Power was good and control was excellent. I could keep my first serve in the service box more consistently than with the other versions. The Flexpoint Prestige Mid did feel slightly stiffer and more powerful compared to the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid." Granville found the racquet to offer a very controlled response on serve. "When I served with the this racquet, I had the sense I could place the ball on a dime. Underpowered when compared to most of the racquets on the market today, I did not gain much when going for a heater. Also, timing was critical. If I was a little off the racquet the feel was unforgiving and my shots ended up slightly short of the mark."
The Flexpoint Prestige Mid offered our team a solid and control oriented response on return. Jon enjoyed the control he found when returning with the racquet. "I felt confident returning serve with this racquet. It had excellent weight and balance and the control was awesome. The power level was noticeably lower than its Flexpoint Prestige siblings." Granville offered, "Here is where the weight of the racquet comes into play. If I got the racquet in front and got my weight moving forward then the racquet's mass alone would get the ball over the net and on target. If I was ahead of the ball and could take a good swing at it, I could take the offensive right away. This is a racquet where you won't be generating a lot of your own speed, but will be using the pace of the ball to generate your power."
Finding a solid response from the racquet was Brad. "Like all other aspects of this racquet, it was all a matter of making good contact with the ball. When I did strike the ball cleanly it was easy to place the ball where I wanted. The weight and solid feel of this racquet made it easy to block the ball back, but the smaller headsize and sweetspot made it difficult to always get good pace and depth on my returns. I noticed quite often that my opponents were able to get my returns back with more pace than I returned it to them with." Chris found the weight and mobility of the racquet a good fit for his returns. "I thought this racquet offered a nice balance between mass and maneuverability. There was enough heft to keep the racquet stable when returning big serves, yet I was able to take a good cut at the ball when given the opportunity. I found plenty of control and found myself more confident when stepping up to receive serve. I enjoyed the firm feel of this racquet on the return. The firm feel seemed to fall somewhere between a Prince Diablo Mid and a ProKennex Type C Mid."
Fans of midsize racquets should drop everything and get out and demo this racquet RIGHT NOW! Offering surprising pop for a mid, this version of the Prestige line seems a most fitting update. Players are hitting with more and more power these days, and we feel this racquet gives midsize fans the chance to keep up. While the focus is still on control and precision, there's a noticeable bump in power compared to other versions of the Prestige Mid. We also found the solid response and stiffer feel made for less racquet twisting on off center shots, resulting in increased comfort compared to the previous Liquidmetal version. All in all, a solid option for advanced players.
|Last Shots from our playtesters|
Chris - Doesn't feel much like a Prestige Classic, but it is a great midsize racquet. This one was my favorite to serve with out of the three head sizes. From all areas of the court I found some nice pop, a solid feel and felt I got plenty of feedback for touch and placement shots. All it needed was a leather grip.
Granville - "This is one of the few racquets where you can easily detect the flex of the frame. It felt good, but I was left wondering how the racquet would respond if it did not flex so much."
Brad - "I found this racquet to be too demanding for my playing style and power level. You have to be pretty accurate and consistent to play everyday with a racquet like this."
Jon - "I liked the control and feel of this racquet. It was my favorite out of the three."
Our team found the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus to offer greater comfort, more margin for error and a tad more pop when compared to the Mid. Brad found the larger headsize a better fit for his game. "I felt a lot more comfortable playing with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus. The bigger sweetspot was noticeable right away and I didn't have to be as accurate when striking the ball. The most noticeable thing for me on groundstrokes was the increase in power and spin. I found that more of my shots landed deeper in the court, which gave my opponent less time to set up for their groundstrokes. The bigger sweetspot made it easier to hit my topspin backhand and I didn't find myself slicing the ball back as much. My backhand slice was still effective, but I felt that I couldn't cut the ball as well as I did with the midsize racquet. Although I noticed that the control with this racquet was not as precise, the level of control was still very high." Finding a solid blend of spin, control and pop was Jon. "The Flexpoint Prestige Midplus had noticeably more power than the Flexpoint Prestige Mid. Topspin was great and control was good. It did feel a little stiffer and more powerful than any version of the Prestige Midplus I have hit to date. This racquet was spin friendly and it was easy to take advantage of this strength while hitting deep groundies. I was able to keep my opponents deep and push them off the baseline."
Chris enjoyed the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus the most out of the three head sizes when it came to trading groundstrokes. "My favorite of the three off the ground, this one offered me the best combination of control, feel and spin production. I was able to hit with good consistency with this racquet. I didn't find any areas of my game where the racquet didn't feel solid. I was able to hit my slice backhands with good spin and accuracy, my topspin forehand had good pace and spin and I found good spin and control on my two-handed backhand. The racquet felt well weighted and offered a much firmer response compared to the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus. This Flexpoint version of the Prestige Midplus just felt solid on every hit - much more so than the previous Liquidmetal version." Granville also found the racquet a great fit for his groundstroke game. "I felt the Midplus was really the perfect headsize for this racquet model. With the Midplus the ball seemed to sink a little deeper into the stringbed, offering that extra millisecond of dwell time, which can make a huge difference in confidence and control. I also found the stringbed accommodated more topspin potential. In addition to the added control, I could generate a bit more pace with a full swing and end the point with one stroke, given the proper opportunity. I was most confident with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus as my shots were landing deeper into the court."
The Flexpoint Prestige Midplus continued to impress our team when it came time to attack the net. Jon found a solid fit for his net game with the racquet. "This was my favorite of the three we tested for volleys. This Midplus version was solid at the net. The weight and balance was very comfortable and the racquet was very maneuverable. Control was on par with my Dunlop Muscle Weave 200G." Chris also preferred the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus at net. "This one was my favorite of the three at net, too. It was a pleasure to volley with this racquet. I loved the solid response and found some nice pop on punch volleys. Similar to the DNX 10 we recently tested, this racquet offered some nice 'plough through', and never felt overpowered by the ball. Power came from the weight of the racquet. When I was moving forward with the racquet out in front, I was hitting some solid volleys. I also found excellent touch and feel at net with this racquet. On a good day, the racquet felt very much like an extension of my arm - I couldnŐt ask for more than that."
Granville's opponents were toast when he got to the net with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus. "Volleys with this racquet were bread and butter. I found a generous sweetspot with good pop, making my volleys crisp and decisive. It offered the same great maneuverability as the Midsize, but more pop as a result of the larger stringbed." Brad enjoyed the larger headsize at net too. "Like groundstrokes, volleys were easier with this racquet than the Mid. The Midplus had good touch and feel. I found my volleys were landing consistently deeper with greater pace."
The majority of our team found some extra pace, spin and consistency when serving with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus. Jon said, "I enjoyed the extra spin the Midplus generated over the Mid, making my kick serve more lively and harder to return. The extra pace was welcome on my first serve, too." Finding a consistent groove on serve was Chris. "My serves were very consistent with this racquet. I did not get exceptional spin or pace, but I was able to find my targets. I've never been a big server, and with this racquet even my stronger first serves were coming back. However, I was making a high percentage of first serves and I was able to start most points off from a slightly offensive position."
Brad found the needed confidence to go for the heater up the T with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus. "Serves with this racquet were a lot more enjoyable compared to the midsize version of the racquet. I felt like my power on serve was similar to when I play with my RDX 500. Also, I was a lot more comfortable hitting my first serve up the T." Finding some good pace and accuracy with his serves was Granville. "I found that the added headsize gave me that extra pop I need and have become accustomed to with Midplus racquets. Targeting was spot on and consistent. You can feel the flex of the racquet, and it feels good."
We enjoyed returning serve with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus. Our team found a solid blend of spin, control and stability. Chris said, "I found excellent control when returning serve. The racquet felt solid and stable both when blocking returns and on aggressive swings. I felt I could hit bigger returns with other racquets, such as a Flexpoint Radical or Instinct, as they allow me to take a bigger cut at the ball. This one offered a greater emphasis on control. Once I got the racquet moving, its mass provided depth and pace to my shots." Jon agreed with Chris's assessment. "I returned well with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus. It didn't matter whether I blocked a tough serve back or went big on the return, the racquet just felt solid. The added headsize over the Mid was a welcome addition."
Granville found the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus to allow for greater shot selection when compared to the Midsize on the return. "Like the Midsize version, this racquet had the mass to do much of the work for me - given the proper shot preparation. The added benefit of the larger head gave me a bit more pace to work with and allowed a bit more flexibility in shot selection." Brad also found increased confidence in his returns when moving up the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus. "The bigger sweetspot on this racquet, compared to the Flexpoint Prestige Mid, definitely made it easier to block the ball back. The increase in power made me feel more confident in my returns since I didn't have to worry about striking the ball as cleanly."
We found the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus to offer the broadest appeal of the three Prestige head sizes. Offering a larger, more forgiving stringbed compared to the Mid and a much more maneuverable feel compared to the Midplus XL, this frame proved popular with all playing styles. Our team appreciated the bump up in power compared to the Mid, yet still found plenty of control and touch. Our team especially liked this racquet at net, finding a high level of control, feel and plenty of pop to finish off the point. This racquet deserves to be at the top of the demo list for 4.5+ level all court players.
|Last Shots from our playtesters|
Chris. "This racquet fit my game better than the Mid or Midplus XL versions. I liked the solid and stable response from all areas of the court, and I was able to access more spin on a consistent basis compared to the other two. I also thought this was a great improvement over the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus, as it felt more stable from all areas of the court."
Granville - "It is really a fun exercise to compare the Mid and Midplus side by side. They play VERY similarly, with the Midplus offering just a bit more power."
Brad - "The lower swingweight and bigger headsize made this racquet my favorite of the three Flexpoint Prestiges."
Jon - "This was a good racquet overall. It is a good choice for a player who wants a classic feel, yet it offers slightly more power than the Mid."
Our team found the added length and heft of the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL to bring some increased firepower to their groundstroke games. Immediately noticing the increase in power was Brad. "Out of the gates I noticed the increase in power between the Midplus and Midplus XL versions of this racquet. At first I struggled to control my groundstrokes, as I had to get used to the extra length and power. A lot of my shots were landing beyond the baseline, but once I adapted to the power and feel of this longer version, I didn't have a problem with over-hitting. I did notice an increase in spin compared to the others, but not enough to make a big difference. Also, I struggled with my slice backhand with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL, as I couldn't seem to keep the ball low." Chris enjoyed the feel of the racquet on his backhand wing. "I thought this was a great racquet for hitting two-handed backhands. The weight, length and solid feel fit my backhand very well. On the forehand it felt like there was much more racquet to get around. While I could hit my forehand with lots of pace, I struggled to find my crosscourt angles, and I wasn't as able to pull my opponents wide as well with this racquet. The racquet swings with noticeably more heft than the other two Flexpoint Prestige models, and the extra heft made it the most demanding of the three."
Granville struggled to find the groove with the Flexpoint Prestige XL. "The higher swingweight doomed this racquet for me. Some racquets are simply not meant to be XLs (longer), and for me the Prestige is one of those racquets. The added length made the racquet feel very sluggish on the backswing. Furthermore, I had to adjust my hitting zone on my groundies to compensate for the added length." Jon also found the Flexpoint Prestige Xl to feel hefty at the baseline. "The first thing I noticed was the added power of this racquet compared to the other two. It also felt almost head heavy due to the high swingweight and was less maneuverable from the baseline than its standard length siblings."
The Flexpoint Prestige XL drew mixed results from our team at net. Getting the most from the racquet on his volleys was Jon. "Volleys were comfortable and the level of control was excellent. I found the added length to be a welcome addition at net." Brad was not as comfortable at net with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL. "At net, this racquet was not nearly as effective as the Standard length Midplus. The extra length and higher swingweight made it harder to get the racquet head around where I needed it to be. Also, with the extra length, I lost some of the feel for the ball, which made it harder to hit drop and touch volleys."
Granville would have liked a more head light balance from the racquet at net. "Despite the similar specs on balance with the Mid and Midplus, the Midplus XL just felt head heavy, thus less maneuverable." Finding a solid response from the racquet at net was Chris. "Very solid at net but not as maneuverable as the others. I found plenty of pop and was able to stick some nice deep volleys with this racquet. I found good feel and control. There was a lot of mass to put behind a volley with this racquet and the racquet never felt overpowered."
With some extra length and heft to the racquet, the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL seems like a good racquet for big serving. However, our team struggled to find the groove and consistently tap into the racquet's potential. Granville said, "The serve is perhaps the one stroke where the added length could be a benefit. With some modifications to my timing and toss I was able to hit some powerful serves with good targeting. I just don't like changing my strokes to accommodate a racquet." Chris struggled with his timing on serve with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL. "I didn't find as much of an advantage with this longer version as I'd expected on serve. I almost never hit a hard flat serve these days, but was hoping to find some extra pace and spin from the added length of this racquet. While I did find some additional pace, it was not a huge improvement over the regular Midplus and I never served as well as I did with the Mid. Every now and then, I'd find the zone with this racquet and get some great pace and spin on my serves. However, those instances were just too few and far between for any real advantage."
After an initial adjustment, Brad served well with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL. "Serving with this racquet took a bit to get used to, but once I got my ball toss dialed in, the extra length really worked to my advantage. I found it easier to get my wide serves in with this racquet compared to the Mid or Midplus versions. I think the higher swingweight of this racquet made it harder to generate racquet head speed on my serves, but the extra bit of reach made up for it." Jon found it harder to get his serve dialed in with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL. "I noticed some added power but I had trouble adjusting to the length and heft of the racquet. I found myself choking up a bit in order to gain consistency. The spin and power were great, the control was my only issue - probably just me."
Our team found good stability and control from the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL on returns. Quickly finding the groove on his backhand was Chris. "My backhand felt very dialed in with this racquet. I liked the weight and feel. I liked the way the racquet head came around with good pace on my backhand. On the forehand, the racquet was harder to maneuver and took a longer adjustment. As with every Prestige I've used, this one offered plenty of control and good targeting." Granville struggled with the length and weight of the racquet on return. "Again, I felt somewhat handicapped with the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL on the return. The racquet felt somewhat sluggish due to the length and balance."
Brad found the racquet to reward good technique on the return. "Service returns with this racquet were decent as long as I didn't get jammed with the ball. Flat first serves coming into the body were difficult to get back. When I had extra time to set up for the ball on slower serves, I was able to get good pace and depth on my shots. Also, serves that I had to block back were a lot more effective compared to the mid." Finding power and control over maneuverability was Jon. "As with groundstrokes, when returning serve this racquet felt head heavy. While it wasn't especially maneuverable, it offered great power for a player's racquet and good control."
The Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL brings plenty of heft, stability and control to all areas of the court. As with the other version tested here, we found a high level of feel and a very predictable response from the stringbed. Extended length player's racquets aren't that abundant these days, and this one will definitely appeal to advanced players who prefer a longer racquet. However, we feel HEAD could have broadened the appeal of this one by making the racquet more headlight and keeping its swingweight in line with the standard length versions. With a swingweight pushing the 340 mark, this one will feel demanding for all but the strongest of players.
|Last Shots from our playtesters|
Chris. "I found XL to be the most demanding of the three due to the increased length and swingweight. I think if HEAD had made this racquet 11-12 points headlight like Tecnifibre did with the TFight 325, this would have been a dynamite racquet. At its current weight and balance, it just felt too sluggish and demanding."
Granville - "This one just didn't feel right, period."
Brad. "I would definitely prefer to play with this racquet over the Midsize, but not over the regular Flexpoint Prestige Midplus. I felt that the only drawback to the XL over the regular Midplus was the heftier swingweight."
Jon - "Initially I had a hard time getting used to the Flexpoint Prestige Midplus XL. It took a few games to adjust, but eventually everything just fell into place. However, it came in as number 3 on my list in this group."
|Chris||5.0 baseline player currently using a Yonex RDX 500 Midsize. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a two-handed backhand.|
|Brad||4.0 baseline player currently using a Yonex RDX 500 Midplus. Brad uses a semi-western forehand grip, has a medium swing style and hits a two-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 one handed backhand.|
|Granville||Granville 5.5 all-court player currently using a 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: May 2006. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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