Andre has left the building.
But his HEAD Radical still plays on.
The king of Radical, Andre Agassi, may have retired from professional tennis, but his racquet of choice is still swinging.
And while Andre may no longer be on the tour, when he steps onto the court, he's still a Radical guy.
The latest version of Andre's racquet gets updated with HEAD's new MicroGel Technology. There's also a new look to the MicroGel Radical racquets - after all, it was Andre who said, "Image is Everything."
The updates are more than skin deep with the MicroGel Radical series. HEAD's MicroGel Radicals feature a MicroGel construction that, when combined with carbon composite fibers in the racquet head, deform and compress upon ball impact, uniformly absorbing and distributing the impact load around the entire frame. HEAD states the result is a rock solid feel with improved comfort at impact.
As with the previous Liquidmetal Radical and Flexpoint Radical racquet lines, the MicroGel Radical comes in three versions. Andre's preferred Oversize headsize is joined again by a Midplus headsize. The third version of the MicroGel Radical, called the Pro, sees the continuation of a heavier player's spec Radical, with a 100 square-inch head and a more open 16/19 string pattern. While the heavier Radical in the Liquidmetal and Flexpoint lines was called the "Tour" version, HEAD has changed the name to "Pro" here - in keeping with its MicroGel Extreme racquets.
We handed the new MicroGel Radicals over to our test team for some extensive hitting. Read on for the results of our three-week playtest.
Our team found lots of control hitting from the baseline with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. Finding heavy emphasis on control and comfort off the ground was Chris. "I found this to be a very control-oriented racquet from the baseline. The racquet felt very soft and forgiving. I liked the feel and felt well-connected to my shots. I found this to be the most comfortable Radical in recent memory, with a more dampened feel compared to the Liquidmetal and Flexpoint versions. Off both wings I could take big cuts at the ball without fear of over-hitting. Even with a lively multifilament string, I found a ton of control with this racquet. To get some added pop, I'd be looking to string this one at the low end of the recommended tension range." Also enjoying the controlled response of the racquet was Jason. "A very solid feeling racquet off the ground. I really enjoyed the control this racquet offered. Even with the tighter string pattern, I felt that the racquet generated a good amount of spin. Keeping the ball in play was not a problem, but at times I couldn't get the ball as deep into the backcourt as I wanted. Control was great! When going for the big shots, I never felt the ball would fly. This MicroGel version of the Radical Midplus also offered great feel and feedback."
Finding a solid response from the racquet was Spencer. "A nice solid feel on groundstrokes. The tight string pattern offered nice control, though I had a little trouble finding depth on my shots. I also didn't get as much spin as I would have liked." Granville found an appealing response from the MicroGel Radical. "The Microgel Radical Midplus felt good in my hand. I liked the balance and soft flex. It felt very maneuverable, with a solid response. It did not offer the 'crisp' response that I find with my regular racquet, unless I struck the ball perfectly. I found that I really needed to watch the ball very closely to find the sweetspot. Overall, though, I found this Radical very appealing." Enjoying the control, but left wanting for spin was Ryan K. "I was able to get a good amount of control with the Microgel Radical Midplus. It felt comfortable to hit with, but it took some time for me to be able to hit a fair amount of topspin with it. I was able to really place my shots, but I felt like I had to put too much effort into getting the topspin I wanted. It was hard to find the spin that I usually get with my racquet. I really didn't feel much extra pop on this racquet, either."
Our team enjoyed lots of feel and control with the MicroGel Radical Midplus at net. Finding some pinpoint accuracy on his touch volleys was Spencer. "I enjoyed the feel of this racquet at net. I liked it most with the more delicate touch volleys. I didn't have as much confidence when trying to put volleys away, and felt any off-center shots were affected by a little instability." Also feeling well-connected to his volleys with the MicroGel Radical Midplus was Granville. "This one was perhaps the least forgiving racquet at net between the three iterations, but I liked the response best. I found some very precise action from the stringbed and good feel. I still need more time with this to make the most of what it has to offer."
Finding the racquet to be crisp and maneuverable at net was Ryan K. "Volleys were very crisp with this racquet. The Microgel Radical Midplus also had excellent maneuverability at net. The high level of comfort only improved the feel for me on volleys." Jason was getting the job done at net with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. "Maneuverable and solid. For the most part, getting the racquet to go where it needed to and getting the ball back over the net was not a problem. Volleying hard-hit shots is where I felt the racquet had some torsional stability problems. Overall though, this racquet can get the job done and get it done well at net." Finding lots of control at net was Chris "This racquet felt very soft and forgiving on volleys. Again, I had no issues with hitting long and lots of control to find the short angles. I was impressed by the comfort, and the racquet offered a very dampened feel. There was enough feedback for me to find my spots on touch shots, but I felt the response was much more dampened than buttery."
When stepping up to serve, our team found lots of control and consistency with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. Granville quickly dialed in his targeting on serves. "The Microgel Radical Midplus has a very precise feel when serving. I had the sense I could place the ball on a dime. The other side of that coin is the inherent lack of power with the racquet." Finding lots of control on serves was Ryan K. "I felt comfortable serving with the Microgel Radical Midplus, but it lacked extra pop. I had to supply my own power, but it felt really solid."
Jason found a controlled response when serving with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. "The control was good. I could get the ball in the direction I wanted it to go, but I felt a lack of power. It just seemed as if my serves were lacking some zip. Hitting 2nd serve slices was not a problem. I found the level of spin was more than adequate with this racquet." Finding plenty of bite from the stringbed of the racquet was Chris. "I was serving consistently with this racquet and had no trouble finding my targets. Pace was OK, but I was much more impressed with the spin and control. The racquet felt somewhat low-powered so I concentrated on placement and variety over pace. As from other areas of the court, I found plenty of bite from the stringbed. I felt confident going all out on second serves without fear of hitting long." A solid sense of directional control impressed Spencer on serve. "I would say the Microgel Radical Midplus is the least powerful of the Microgel Radicals. Direction and control were good, although I wasn't getting the desired result when it came to spin."
The comfortable and control oriented response continued to impress our team when returning. When it came to shot selection, Jason found lots of variety while returning serve. "Because this racquet is fairly stable and maneuverable, it opened up some options on returns. Against big first serves, blocking the ball back was easily done, and on second serves I could really take a nice full swing at the ball from either the forehand or backhand side." Ryan K was also taking a good cut at the ball with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. "On most of my returns I was able to rip my returns back with this racquet. Finding the sweetspot was very easy and effective, although adding a good amount of topspin took some time."
Finding a demanding response from the racquet when returning was Granville. "Good stroke production is critical to maximize returns with the Midplus. I was able to drive the ball effectively when prepared." Spencer found an easier time on return with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. "A pretty easy stick to return with. If I had one complaint with returning serve it would be lack of depth. It was more difficult to get returns back deep with any consistency."
Said Chris, "I really felt like I maximized the control and response of this racquet on returns. I was able to play aggressively with this stick and still be consistent. I wasn't blowing returns past my opponents like I can with my regular stick, but my control and placement was strong. I especially liked the control on chip and slice returns. I was able to drop the ball low to the serve and volley player's feet, then move in and finish them with a forehand - lots of fun."
We found lots of control with the MicroGel Radical Midplus from all areas of the court. The level of comfort at contact was also very impressive. Most racquets offering a high level of comfort sacrifice feel. There's no loss of feel with the MicroGel Radical Midplus, and our team found this one a solid performer when it came to shot targeting and touch play. The traditional 18/20 Radical stringbed seemed to add to the sense of control, and our team felt confident with this stick during aggressive exchanges. Getting power from the racquet was up to the playtester and good stroke technique was required for heavy hitting. As with previous Radicals, we found excellent mobility and control, but with improved comfort and a softer feel. A solid hitting racquet, this one's a solid update to the Radical line and well worth a demo.
|Last Shots from our playtesters|
Granville "A very comfortable racquet with wide appeal. If you are looking for a 'scalpel' type racquet with a lighter swingweight, then you need not look any further."
Ryan K. "A solid racquet for a 4.0+ player. I would recommend this for a player looking for maximum control and good comfort for the arm. A definite improvement over the Flexpoint."
Jason "Since my regular racquet is the Head Flexpoint Radical Midplus, I was both excited and leery to try out its successor. But after some extensive on court playing time with the Microgel Radical Midplus my skepticism was put to rest. I really enjoyed the control, feel and feedback from this racquet. It offers a different type of feel compared to the previous Flexpoint version. I thought this was a solid weapon on all shots and areas of the court. I will definitely be upgrading to the Microgel Radical in the near future."
Chris "A very confidence inspiring racquet. Even though I didn't hit the ball as big with this racquet as with my regular racquet, the level of control made it a "no adjustment needed" stick for me."
Spencer "I felt very comfortable with this racquet in my hand. I enjoyed the feel of it, but the results weren't as appealing as with the Pro."
|Head MicroGel Radical MP scores|
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Our team found plenty of forgiveness in the 107 square-inch head of the MicroGel Radical Oversize. Granville was impressed with the all court performance on groundstrokes. "This is one of the nicest hitting oversize racquets on the market. Nice soft feel with a lively stringbed. This one was the best 'pocketing' stick of the three choices. Good depth on my groundies and the soft feel and flex to mix it up a bit with some slice cross court shots and some big shots down either line. It's the kind of racquet that feels better the more you play with it. I didn't experience overwhelming power, but I did get good pace when I wanted it or needed it." Jason enjoyed the power and depth he found with the MicroGel Radical Oversize. "I found all the good things from the Microgel Radical Midplus and a little more. The Oversize version had two things going for it that the Microgel Radical Midplus lacked. For one, it was more forgiving. Off-center shots still had decent pace, and while often 'framed' on the Microgel Radical Midplus, ended up on the strings with the Oversize. More importantly, the Oversize version provided more depth and power. I noticed my shots ending up closer to the baseline, therefore providing a tougher shot for my opponent."
Spencer liked the large sweetspot he found on the MicroGel Radical Oversize. "Consistent is the word I would use to describe this racquet from the baseline. A big hoop and sweetspot kept my shots on line with both centered and off-center hits. Having a little more pop than the Microgel Radical Midplus, shot depth was good as well as overall pace. If there was one thing that lacked in my opinion, it was feel."Ryan K agreed. "I preferred hitting with the Oversize over the Microgel Radical Midplus. I always found the sweetspot and had excellent results hitting topspin. The only thing I would change with this racquet would be to add some weight evenly over this frame."
Chris appreciated the comfortable feel of the Oversize. "I was impressed by the very forgiving response of this racquet. Comfort was great. The feel from the racquet was soft and dampened. The power from the sweetspot was very impressive and I was able to generate lots of pace off the ground with this stick. I liked the response from this racquet hitting both my one-handed and two-handed backhands. I was able to get some nice spin with both and plenty of depth. When hitting with slice, there was lots of feel to gauge both the depth and direction of my shots. While this one felt a long way from the Radicals of old, such as the Limited Edition version currently available, the Microgel Radical Oversize was in keeping with more recent Oversize offerings like the Liquidmetal and Flexpoint versions - but with some added comfort thrown in."
Our team felt the large stringbed of the MicroGel Radical Oversize made for some consistent hitting at net. Chris was impressed with the response of the racquet. "I liked this racquet a lot at net. There was plenty of feel and I had the sense the stringbed was pocketing the ball well. This racquet also felt light and very easy to maneuver. I was able to react well with it as well as take advantage of the mobility when looking to flick a short angled volley." Granville added, "I found a very nice and soft feel at net. I was also impressed by the maneuverability of the racquet when volleying."
The extra pop the Oversize provided was a nice asset for Jason. "No surprises here, the Oversized head provided better coverage than the Microgel Radical Midplus. What was also a plus was the additional power. I could really put some pace on the ball and occasionally, turn a returnable volley into an outright winner." Spencer liked the forgiveness at net. "I felt pretty comfortable volleying with this one. Easy maneuverability with a large sweetspot, it wasn't difficult to get the stringbed on the ball."
The MicroGel Radical Oversize lacked feel, but was still effective at the net for Ryan K. "The Oversize was a large target for those midrange volleys at the net, but lacked for me in the touch and feel department. This was my least favorite shot with this racquet, but I still managed to be effective, although it didn't have the solid feel of the Microgel Radical Midplus."
Control and consistency were evident when serving with the MicroGel Radical Oversize. Ryan K liked the power he found with the racquet. "I was able to get a good amount of pace on my first serves and the slice I need on my second. I loved serving with the Oversize and found it more controllable than the more head heavy racquets in this size." Chris reveled in mixing up his serves, as he felt confident with several options. "Another shot I liked hitting with this stick was the serve. Power was impressive and the racquet came through the contact zone nicely. I felt like I had plenty of options with the pace and spin I found with this stick. Both first and second serves were firing nicely during this playtest."
Getting some good velocity on serve was Granville. "I served well with this racquet, especially when hitting my slice serves. I think the Oversize offered the most power when it came to serving." As with the Midplus, Jason enjoyed the control but felt the power lacked. "I was a bit disappointed when serving with this racquet. I was expecting more power than I found. The pace seemed identical to that of the Microgel Radical Midplus. In this category, between the two different sized frames, I would declare a draw." Spencer had a similar response. "I thought serving with this racquet was good, not great. Though the power was sufficient, I must say I was expecting more. Control and spin were consistent though."
The mobility and 107sq. inch headsize of the MicroGel Radical Oversize led to confident returning for our test team. Spencer was more self-assured when returning serve with this one. "Consistency once again is the word I would use in this category. Quite an easy racquet to return serves with. Whether I was blocking back a serve or taking a good crack at one, I felt confident." Granville enjoyed various options with this racquet when returning. "The generous headsize of the racquet seemed to provide some added security when playing against a big server. I was both blocking the ball effectively when on defense as well as taking full swings to drive the ball down the line or cross court."
Ryan K was delighted with the feedback from this racquet. "The response was excellent on the serve returns. I was surprised on the level of comfort on the serve returns. I thought this one provided a noticeable improvement over the Flexpoint model." Chris was able to control the power of his returns with spin. "The mobile feel was great on returns. Again, I found the racquet to respond with good comfort. I was able to get lots of power from the sweetspot and tended to hit long if I came through the ball too flatly. When I hit with spin, my accuracy improved greatly and I was able to take a good cut at the ball."
Having more success with defensive returns was Jason. "I found good maneuverability from this one for an oversized racquet. Blocking shots back and taking big cuts at a slow second serve was easy, but I noticed this racquet being a bit sluggish when trying to attack a big serve. I liked the MicroGel Radical Midplus version better for returning serves."
The MicroGel Radical Oversize offers a very forgiving and comfortable hit, well suited to intermediate to advanced players. Those looking for a high level of mobility, easy access to spin, and some useful power from all areas of the court should take a close look at this one. Our testers found some nice feel and a solid sense of ball pocketing on touch shots - especially at net. All in all, this one is a solid all court performer with plenty on offer for fans of oversize racquets. It may also tempt midplus fans into something larger and more forgiving.
|Last Shots from our playtesters|
Granville "The Oversize version has even broader appeal than the Midplus. More power and a larger sweetspot at a very manageable weight."
Ryan K. "This should be a great racquet for the 4.0+ player looking to take advantage of the large sweetspot. In my opinion, Microgel is the real deal."
Jason "A very solid stick that offers a good blend of power and control. Definitely for the more advanced player that can generate his own pace but still wants the safety and forgiveness of an oversized racquet."
Chris "I was impressed by the level of comfort I found with this racquet. I also liked the ball pocketing I found at net and when hitting slice backhands."
Spencer "A racquet I can easily hit with but not my first choice of the Microgel Radicals. Most likely because of the lack of feel."
|Head MicroGel Radical OS scores|
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
The MicroGel Radical Pro's increased mass, a 100 square-inch head and an open 16/19 string pattern seemed to be the magic formula for our testers when hitting groundstrokes. Having a blast hitting groundstrokes with the racquet was Spencer. "By far, the best feeling of the three Microgel Radicals for me. One of the best sticks I've hit with, period. The Pro's combination of weight, headsize, and string pattern gave this racquet very desirable characteristics, which are ideal for my strokes. I could hit fluid, solid strokes off both sides and was able to hit deeper shots with more accuracy. The 16/19 string pattern allowed for a bit more pop and a lot of spin. What a joy to hit with from the baseline." Ryan K found a new favorite from the baseline with the MicroGel Radical Pro. "This racquet is one of my new favorites for groundstrokes. I have always liked the Radical Tour/Pro models of the past and this one was up to the challenge. The weight distribution helped create a solid, crisp feel on each stroke and the larger headsize and more open string pattern gave me the topspin I was seeking."
Quickly finding the groove with the Radical Pro was Granville "The Microgel Radical Pro is a racquet that I could pick right up and go and play a match with, with little adjustment. It allowed me to generate great head speed due to its light weight of 11.5 ounces or so, and it was very comfortable. I could take full swings at the ball and get good depth to any spot on the court." Jason enjoyed the spin friendly response of the racquet. "Wow. What a difference a couple of strings make. With an open string pattern and a slightly larger head than the Microgel Radical Midplus, this racquet really helped me produce some exceptional spin. For me, the racquet was just a bit too heavy, and it showed when I was hitting my one handed backhand. The weight made by backhand hit the ball a split second late. But on my forehand side, I could really swing away at the ball and still keep it in play. That's what I enjoyed most about this racquet." Chris found a more pleasing, crisp response from the baseline with the MicroGel Radical Pro. "This was a very solid racquet from the baseline. I was finding some added stability at contact and more weight behind my shots compared to the other two Microgel Radicals. The weight and swingweight were much closer to my comfort zone so I was able to adjust to this racquet very quickly. I liked the amount of spin I was finding and felt confident swinging aggressively off the baseline and when attacking the short ball. When driving the ball with slice the racquet remained very stable and offered decent weight through the contact zone. Overall, I'd say this one felt crisper than the other Microgel Radicals, and it was my pick of the three from the baseline."
Our team found an impressive blend of stability and feel at the net. Finding himself well-connected to his volleys with the MicroGel Radical Pro was Ryan K. "I felt in complete control at the net with this frame. Solid crisp volleys and great touch for those hard to reach balls." Jason was hitting some deep, penetrating volleys with the MicroGel Radical Pro. "What separated this racquet from other player's racquets for me was the headsize. I found the larger headsize is a real advantage at net over a more traditional 95 square-inch midplus racquet. I got the maneuverability and stability of a player's frame, but the court coverage of a 'tweener. I could really put some good spin on my volleys, keeping them low and making them skid across the court, instead of sitting up."
Impressed by the solid response at net was Granville. "Nice volleying racquet - good pop when aggressive and nice touch when I needed some gentle placement. while still light and maneuverable, I'd say it is the most solid volleying Radical to date." Finding both consistency and depth on his volleys with this racquet was Chris. "The crisp response I found from the baseline also impressed me at net. The racquet felt nice and solid and I was able to punch volleys deep with more weight and penetration. I liked the level of feel and control with this racquet and was finding my targets with good consistency." Attacking the net more frequently while hitting with the MicroGel Radical Pro was Spencer. "I found myself coming to net more with the deep groundies I was hitting, so I was able to get a very good feel for this racquet when volleying. More confidence was the result. I was able to punch solid volleys with good maneuverability and nice stability. The versatility of this stick, combined with more confidence, helped give me more options as opposed to playing it safe - which I tend to do more often at net."
Our team continued to enjoy the level of control and access to spin when serving with the MicroGel Radical Pro. Spencer was finding both spin and pace on serve. "I was able to get a lot of spin and hop on my kickers and plenty of velocity when going up the 'T' with the hard one." Getting impressive consistency on serve was Granville. "I was hitting some good solid serves and placing the ball well. The racquet does not offer additional power when serving, but I could get some good spin on the ball to enhance my kickers out wide." Ryan K found the racquet to be made to measure for his serves. "I felt so comfortable serving with the MicroGel Radical Pro. It had plenty of extra drive to hit those hard up the line serves, catching my opponent off guard. The combination of headsize, balance and weight seemed made for my serve."
Enjoying the weight of the racquet on serve was Jason. "The added weight made a difference in serve speed. I felt the racquet hit through the ball more, producing a faster ball. It was also nice to be able to put a bit more spin on my second serves." Chris also liked the weight and balance of the racquet on serve. "I liked the way this racquet came through the contact zone on serve. I was able to generate plenty of racquet head speed and the racquet felt very stable at contact. My serves had good weight and pace. I was able to move the ball around the service box with good consistency. The best part about serving with this racquet was that I didn't have to work to get pace. I could just let the weight of the racquet come through the ball and enjoy the depth and pace I was finding."
The MicroGel Radical Pro provided a consistent base for our testers to return with pace and control. Ryan K eagerly awaited each returning opportunity with the MicroGel Radical Pro. "I had no problems crushing returns cross court with this racquet. Having the extra weight over the other two MicroGel Radicals gave it an excellent, crisp feel on each return. I couldn't wait to receive the next serve from my opponents."Jason enjoyed stepping inside the court and being aggressive when returning with the MicroGel Radical Pro. "With a racquet like this, I felt like my return of serve could be more offensive then defensive. Blocked serves landed relatively deep, deep enough for me to recover back to the center of the court. Timing had to be more precise when I went for a big return. At times, I felt like I had to start my swing early to make up for the additional weight."
Granville was left looking for some added racquet mass when returning serve. "When returning, I prefer to have a little more mass in a racquet for stability. That being said, a player familiar with the Radical heritage will not be disappointed with the response of this one." Finding the racquet to be a better match for his game was Spencer. "Once again, a nice blend of maneuverability and stability made this racquet easy to return with. I felt I could chip or block back high velocity serves easily. I also had success anticipating opportunities to take bigger cuts at the ball with the confidence of being able to go down the line or crosscourt with both pace and control."
Chris continued to enjoy hitting the MicroGel Radical Pro when it came to returning serve. "I also enjoyed this racquet when returning. I was able to find my targets consistently. Up against tough serves, I had good success blocking the ball back. The racquet felt stable and I was able to control the pace of the serve and hit my spots. When I was able to read the serve early, I felt confident taking a good cut at the ball with this racquet. There was a nice blend of power from the swingweight and control from the stringbed."
We're glad to see the continuation of a heavier, 100 square-inch version of the Radical. We found the MicroGel Radical Pro an especially good fit for 4.0+ level players who like to play aggressively from all areas of the court. The open string pattern offered plenty of bite, allowing our testers to take aggressive cuts at the ball without sacrificing consistency. The added weight also made this one a good partner for stronger players who like to hit - and are frequently up against - a heavier ball. As with the other MicroGel Radicals, the Pro offered a comfortable hit with a tad more crispness, most likely due to its extra weight. Intermediate to advanced players should definitely put this one on their hit list.
|Last Shots from our playtesters|
Ryan K. "The pro is my Radical of choice. It's just so solid and crisp all over the court, I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it."
Jason "For me, the Microgel Radical Midplus is a better fit. But for a more advanced player, I would definitely recommend giving this racquet a try. Great control and enough power when you really take a rip at the ball. A definite improvement from the Flexpoint sticks."
Granville "I would prefer a true 'Pro' version of this racquet to be in the 12+ ounce range. As comfortable as it is, I still prefer the extra 'plow-through' of a heavier racquet, like the Prestige. It's just not there with a stick this soft."
Chris "This was by far my favorite of the three Microgel Radicals. The weight and balance felt much closer to my comfort zone and I enjoyed the crisper feeling response."
Spencer "I liked the Pro overwhelmingly over the Midplus and Oversize Radicals. A great combination of weight, feel, and control."
|MicroGel Radical Pro scores|
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
|Chris||5.0 baseline player currently using the Babolat Pure Drive Roddick. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a two-handed and a one-handed backhand.|
|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.|
|Jason||4.0 baseliner currently using a Head Flexpoint Radical Midplus. Jason has a fairly aggressive semi-western topspin forehand and hits a one-handed backhand.|
|Ryan K.||4.0 all court player currently using a Wilson ProStaff 6.0 Classic. Ryan uses a full-western forehand grip and a two-handed backhand.|
|Spencer||4.5 Baseline player currently using a Tecnifibre TFlash 310. Spencer uses a full-western forehand grip, and hits with a one-handed backhand.|
Review date: July 2007. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2007 Tennis Warehouse.