Head Liquidmetal Prestige Racquet Review

There are few racquet names that are synonymous with Grand Slam victories. One racquet that belongs in this elite club is the HEAD Prestige. Whether on the red clay of Roland Garros, the lawns of the All England Club, or on the baking hot center court at Flushing Meadows, the HEAD Prestige has been part of the winning combination. In fact, only two things replaced a HEAD Prestige in the hands of respective champions Gustavo Kuerten, Goran Ivanisevic and Marat Safin. One was the trophy, the other, a large check.

When HEAD launched its Liquidmetal racquet line in 2003, the one thing that seemed to be missing was a new version of the Prestige. However, it was not long before rumors started to brew that a Liquidmetal Prestige was in the making. At the 2004 Australian Open HEAD made it official . . . the Prestige was back. And, appropriately, so was long-time Prestige user Marat Safin. By the time Safin had completed 27 grueling sets to reach the final, the world had gotten a pretty good look at the new Liquidmetal Prestige. It would not be until HEAD teamed up with Tennis Warehouse at the Pacific Life Open in March of 2004, though, that the Liquidmetal Prestige racquets would be available to the public.

As with the previous Intelligence Prestige line, the Liquidmetal Prestige is available in two head sizes. Unlike the Intelligence Prestige line, the Midplus is only available in standard length. The Liquidmetal Prestige racquets also include Intellifibre technology, and Twin Tube frame technology - as do all other Liquidmetal racquets. The Liquidmetal Prestige is the first HEAD Prestige to use Twin Tube technology - a popular technology first seen in HEAD's Radical racquets.

We playtested the Liquidmetal Prestige racquets for three weeks. Did we see any Grand Slam titles in our future? Read on to find out.

For the playtest we strung two racquets of each headsize with 17 gauge multifilament string. One of each headsize was strung at 2lbs above mid tension with the second strung 2lbs below mid tension.

Mid

Groundstrokes

With a target weight of 12.3 ounces strung, a balance point 7 points head-light and a 340 swingweight, the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid offers some solid heft for baseline play. Appreciating the feel of the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid from the baseline was Josh. "I am a big fan of the Prestige line and the Liquidmetal version didn't disappoint. Groundstrokes were solid and controlled, reminiscent of the Prestige Classic. Players partial to the stiffness and "pop" of the i.Prestige will get a different feel from this racquet. The new model feels more flexible and packs a little more punch. The new Prestige offers good spin potential despite its dense string pattern. I found some success slicing groundstrokes and approach shots into the corners, creating plenty of opportunities to move forward and attack the net." Granville also liked the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid from the baseline. "The Midsize Liquidmetal Prestige has some noticeable heft to it. This translates into stability. Groundies were smooth and solid on virtually every shot. I don't think this is a racquet for weekend warriors, you will need to be in good shape to play your best with this midsize. With an RDC flex of 61, you can give this racquet a full swing and expect good depth with little worries of hitting long. Additionally, the top of the hoop offers good performance helping to produce controlled shots even on the dead run. This is a top notch racquet."

Wendi found the Liquidmetal Prestige to be a bit too hefty for her liking. "The first thing I noticed when I picked up the Mid was how much heavier it was compared to the Midplus. I was definitely missing the power of the Midplus on my groundstrokes. When I wasn't in position and tried to muscle my way through a shot I felt the strain of swinging such a heavy racquet. The feel from the stringbed also felt a little stiff for my liking. Off-center hits were a little more common, but that didn't surprise me with the Mid having just a 93 square inch headsize. However, the control I had with this racquet was definitely a plus."

Don got off to a great start with the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid. "My first outing was like a dream. I found the racquet more maneuverable and power more abundant than anticipated. However, this was controlled power that allowed me to swing fast and hard, yet still hit the ball where I wanted it to go. Even the dense string pattern wasn't as noticeable, and I could generate good spin. The best part, though, was the comfy, buttery feel that is Prestige. Even mis-hit balls weren't jarring or uncomfortable. My subsequent playtest sessions weren't quite as 'dreamy', and I found myself struggling a bit to generate sufficient racquet head speed to hit the pace and depth I'm used to. When I looked into this, I found the first playtest racquet weighed 12.1 ounces with a 328 swingweight. This racquet was replaced by one that was 12.4 ounces with a 340 swingweight; being closer to HEAD's target spec. It still had the stable, comfortable feel and excellent control, I just had a tougher time swinging the racquet over any period of time."

Perhaps enjoying the weight and feel of the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid from the baseline the most was Chris. "I was able to really go after my shots with this racquet. I found a lot of control, but most importantly, I was hitting deep penetrating groundstrokes. The combination of control and good weight of shot enabled me to keep my opponent on the back foot with some solid, aggressive tennis. The racquet's weight was a real plus on longer points, as it provided a lot of stability while producing some good power on faster swings. The Liquidmetal Prestige Mid reminds me of the original Prestige. Although the feel is slightly different - a tad more crisp than the original and with more feedback from the upper hoop - no adjustment was needed when switching between the two. I've always enjoyed the feel of the Twin Tube Radicals, and I really liked the feel of this Twin Tube racquet. I was hitting some nice slice backhands, finding lots of weight and accuracy. I also found plenty of topspin on both forehands and backhands. All in all, I had a great time hitting groundstrokes with this racquet."

Volleys

With its tight 18/20 string pattern the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid offered plenty of control at net. Finding good touch and feel at net was Don, "the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid is solid and stable on volleys, but requires a stronger player with good technique for optimum results. Picking up half-volleys is a treat, as the racquet does most of the work. My volleys were effective when I was in position and set the racquet properly. Drop and short angle volleys were the easiest for me, mostly because I found myself late and these shots were all I could muster against hard-hit passing shots. Great touch and feel." Comparing the Liquidmetal Prestige to the i.Prestige was Josh, "the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid is solid at net, but I missed the crisp volley of a tightly strung i.Prestige Mid. The new Prestige is maneuverable and heavy enough to prevent one from working hard to finish a point. The racquet wasn't very forgiving on off-center shots, and it definitely forced me to focus more on preparation at the net." Wendi's struggles with the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid continued at net. "At net, the Mid offered good control and I was able to hit some nice deep volleys. I just didn't like the weight of the racquet. It just felt awkward in my hand when I was in motion. It didn't have the pop that the Midplus did, although my volleys were still controlled."

Granville said, "this is a volleyer's dream racquet. At its best, you can feel the ball flattening out on the stringbed - offering considerably more control at the net than lighter racquets. For such a hefty racquet, I'd prefer an even more head light balance, 10-12 points compared to the stock seven - but that's just me." Chris found the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid to be surprisingly maneuverable at the net. "I found the groove with this racquet in no time. The racquet has enough pop to finish off high balls, but I most enjoyed the control and placement I was getting. The sweetspot felt very generous, with slightly mis-timed shots still having plenty of stick. Like the original Prestige, I found I could generate a lot of racquet head speed with this version, and I was spanking drive-volleys from the mid-court whenever I got the opportunity."

Serves & Overheads

The Prestige line of racquets has always been a popular choice with big serving players. When our team hit the courts with this latest version they found out why. Josh said, "awesome on the first serve, even better on the second. I was surprised at the combination of pace and spin I was able to generate with this racquet on second serves. While I wasn't overpowering my opponents, I was happy with my first-serve location and percentage of aces. The same comfort and success was evident in my overheads." Chris agreed, saying, "I'm not sure if it was the midsize head or the balance, but I was able to get this racquet really moving on the serve. Accompanying all of the racquet head speed was some nice pop on flat serves, and some added kick on spin serves. I was getting some nice swerve on my slice serve out wide to the deuce court, and had to adjust my aim to prevent from hitting the alley. I found the same kind of zip on my overheads, which helped me to finish off the point quickly. I don't think I was getting the weight of shot I'm used to with my regular racquet, but a little added weight at 10 and 2 in the hoop would take care of that." Also finding some good action on his serve was Granville. "Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for me was 18 mains on the serve compared to my usual 16 mains. I found more "action" on my serves - the ball spinning wider with the same serve. For someone like me who doesn't posses a Roddick heater, this extra ball movement gives my placement a bit more bite. Lastly, my opponent was mentioning my serve was a bit heavier - always nice to hear."

Wendi said, "serving with the Mid was similar to serving with the Midplus. I had great consistency, but slightly less pace." Don also found plenty of consistency, and some good comfort and feel, too. "Despite the racquet's heft, I served well with the Liquid Metal Prestige Mid. I got into a groove of staying loose and allowing the racquet to swing, not forcing. The result was a 'heavier' ball, according to my opponents. Directional control was excellent. I could hit the flat serve up the middle or slice out wide. On second serves, I was able to generate good topspin, even with the dense string pattern. I rarely double-faulted, despite swinging almost as fast as on first serves. Again, I liked the feel and comfort."

Serve Returns

Our team had mixed results returning with the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid. While the tight string pattern and solid 12.3 ounce weight provided plenty of control, some found the racquet a little too heavy. Granville said, "as with all racquets of this kind, you are limited only by your ability. Remember, this racquet is fairly weighty, so solid fundamentals are critical to the performance." Wendi never quite found the groove with the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid. "Returns did not come very easy with the Mid. I had problems handling the hard serves, especially when they had spin or were deep. Again, the racquet felt very foreign in my hand."

Don said, "no surprises here. I found myself limited to blocking back most hard serves. Fortunately, the LM Prestige Mid has enough weight that my returns had sufficient depth. Against serve and volleyers I could guide the ball low over the net, forcing a difficult volley from my opponent. I could take a decent swing gainst second serves, generating a somewhat offensive return. All in all, though, my returns were OK, not great." Finding his groove quickly on returns was Josh. "I found more success returning with the Midsize than the Midplus. I felt this racquet offered a little more control, and I was able to drive the ball lower and deeper than with the Midplus." Chris agreed, saying, "the racquet felt very maneuverable, with good control and plenty of that familiar Prestige weight and zip. This racquet also remained very stable when hitting sliced backhand returns off a heavy serve. I felt like I could be confidently aggressive when given the opportunity, yet when I was pushed I was still able to block back the ball with control."

Overall

A true player's racquet, the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid rewards good technique with plenty of touch and feel. Players strong enough to take faster cuts at the ball will be rewarded with some solid pop without sacrificing any control. Our team members were surprised at the amount of spin they could generate on serves and groundstrokes given the racquet's control oriented, tight string pattern.

Head LiquidMetal Prestige Mid

Head LiquidMetal Prestige Mid Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size93 square inches600 square centimeters
Weight12.3 ounces349 grams
Balance Point12.625 inches
32 centimeters
7pts Head Light
Construction19 mm Straight Beam
CompositionLiquidMetal Titanium / Graphite and Piezzo Electric Fibers
String Pattern18 Mains / 20 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating61Range: 0-100
Swing Weight340Range: 200-400
Manueverability0

Midplus

Groundstrokes

Even though the Midplus is the lighter of the two Liquidmetal Prestige racquets, its 11.9 ounce strung weight and 325 (RDC) swingweight makes it a solid offering. Granville found the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus more than up to the task of baseline battles. He said, "like the Mid, the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus is very solid and stable. The difference here is the softer flex of the stringbed as compared to the Mid. The ball seems to have a bit more dwell time before release. It had the same great depth on my shots and was a bit more forgiving than the smaller head sizes in this category. The 18 mains also seems to aid in control, in that I can bring the ball down a bit more steeply or "around" the opponent when hitting down the line." Chris said, "the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus felt easier to swing than its Midsize brother. The feel from the baseline was that the racquet played very light. I found I was getting more spin on my groundstrokes, but less depth and weight. I had better results when counter punching, but struggled to keep the ball deep if I was pushed deep behind the baseline. I liked hitting my slice backhand with this racquet, finding great accuracy and a nice consistent feel from the stringbed." Wendi had much better results moving up to the Midplus headsize. "I really enjoyed playing with this racquet, especially from the baseline. It gave me good control and a very comfortable amount of power. I was hitting with some good topspin and noticed that I was staying in rallies longer than usual. My backhand really shined with this racquet. The angles I was able to hit were very precise."

Josh was finding just too much depth at first with the Midplus. "I had to adjust a little to hit with the Midplus. I was hitting every forehand long at first, so I really had to concentrate on the fundamentals. I had trouble finding a groove on the backhand side as well. This is, however, an effective racquet to slice with. I was able to drop the ball just over the net at sharp angles several times, which helped keep my opponents on their toes." As the playtest progressed Don continued to find better results from the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus. "At first, I found myself not liking the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus as much as the Mid. However, after more time with both racquets, I grew to like the Midplus a lot. It has more of what I need over a long hitting session or match. It's more maneuverable, more forgiving and a little more powerful. It doesn't have quite the same flex and feel of the Mid, but is still quite comfortable. Most important, I didn't have to swing as hard to get the same results and my arm didn't tire over time like it did with the Mid. Nice combination of power, control and touch. Whether I was hitting a topspin backhand deep to the corner or feathering a sliced drop shot, the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus gave me the confidence to hit almost any shot."

Volleys

The weight, balance and response of the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus produced a winning feel at net for our team. Wendi said, "this racquet was very stable and maneuverable. I was able to hit some good deep volleys as well as some touch volleys. It had good pop off the strings and was a fun racquet at the net." Granville felt very confident at net with the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus. "Once again, I am lovin' this stick. It provided good bite on the ball and it gave me the impression I could do almost anything with it. Maneuverability is a premium benefit and the serve and volleyer will love this racquet. I was hitting low volleys with good depth off both sides and was constantly tempted to hit the drop volley because I just could not miss." Don also found plenty of touch and feel on his volleys. "I felt much more in control when volleying with the Midplus compared to the Mid. I could move the racquet around more quickly, yet I still enjoyed a solid, stable feel and could hit penetrating volleys. Even angle and touch volleys were easy to execute."

Josh said, "the racquet felt great on volleys. The Midplus is a little more powerful than the Mid, so I was able to put away winners with more authority. The Midplus was still very maneuverable, though I missed the weight of the Midsize when I had to dig a low return to my feet." Out of all the areas of the court, Chris felt most confident with the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus at net. "This racquet really comes into its own at net. There was a lot of feel for touch and placement volley, enough pop to put the ball away, and it all came in a nice maneuverable package. The racquet felt really well balanced when hitting low pick-up volleys, or when softening the wrist for a dropper. As with the Mid, I also found good racquet head speed on overheads with this racquet. I was able to bring the racquet head through fast enough to hit some nice spike angles."

Serves & Overheads

Our team found some good consistency when serving with the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus. Four members of our team were also very impressed with the amount of spin they could generate on slice and topspin serves. Granville was very pleased with the extra spin and pace he found on serve. "Once again the better action I was getting from 18 mains has convinced me that I need to make the switch from 16 mains. The wide serve is especially effective, even if it takes my opponent just three inches wider. I think the Midplus is the ticket. I may be getting a bit more speed/power as well, as noted by my playtest opponent." Chris found similar results, saying, "I got good spin and pop on my serves. I also found a lot of control, helping me find my targets on first serves and giving me confidence to go for a little more on second serves. I always felt like I could serve very well with this racquet, while still holding a little something back for the big points. When I did go for a little extra on the serve, I was able to maintain a decent level of control and keep my service percentage up."

Josh found more opportunities to serve and volley with the Liquidmetal Midplus. "As with the Liquidmetal Prestige Mid, I was really impressed with the kick on second serves. The Midplus also provided more power behind the slice, which allowed me to take a few more trips to the net than I did with the Midsize." Don found a lot of control serving with the Liquidmetal Midplus. He said, "I served well with this racquet. Not great, but well. Although my first serves weren't as 'heavy' as with the Mid, they were more predictable and I felt more confident. I had good directional control and could generate greater spin for slice and topspin serves." Wendi also found some good consistency on serve. "I don't think my serves have ever been as consistent. My first serve percentage has never been so high. I wouldn't say my serves had extreme pace on them, but they were often in play. I was also able to place my serves with some accuracy."

Serve Returns

The maneuverability our team enjoyed from the baseline and at net with the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus also proved effective on the return. Don found he had a little more time to pick his shot with the Midplus, compared to the Mid. "I had options when returning serves, since I was able to take a swipe at most serves. When I was forced to block back big first serves I focused on directing the ball. I could be more offensive against most serves, especially second serves." While Wendi found lots of consistency on the return, Josh struggled. Wendi said, "I had great results on the return of serve. I was able to really attack my opponentŐs second serves and I could handle the first serves as well. I also had success on deep serves that sometimes give me trouble." Josh said, "my returns were really inconsistent with the Midplus. Whether I was reacting quickly on a first serve or attacking a second, I never felt controlled. I would like to say I just had a bad day, but the results were similar against various opponents throughout the playtest."

Chris found he could be aggressive, even when up against faster serves. "The Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus felt the best when I had pace to work with. I liked counter-punching with this racquet, and the return seemed the perfect shot for me to use my opponent's pace. With a little backswing and a long follow through, I was able to return very aggressively. Block and chip returns also worked well, and the racquet felt very stable when blocking a slice backhand return." Perhaps having the greatest success on returns was Granville. "Solid and stable, the racquet just wants to rip through the ball. Assuming you have the game for this racquet... rip it! Get your weight moving forward and the racquet can do the rest."

Overall

The Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus is a solid all-court racquet. Doubles players and serve and volleyers will love its maneuverability, while baseline players will enjoy the consistency and spin they can generate with this racquet. Granville was so pleased with the Liquidmetal Prestige Midplus that he has decided to make the switch from his Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1.

Head LiquidMetal Prestige Midplus

Head LiquidMetal Prestige Midplus Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size98 square inches632 square centimeters
Weight11.9 ounces337 grams
Balance Point12.5 inches
32 centimeters
8pts Head Light
Construction21 mm Straight Beam
CompositionLiquidMetal Titanium / Graphite and Piezzo Electric Fibers
String Pattern18 Mains / 20 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating63Range: 0-100
Swing Weight325Range: 200-400
Manueverability0
Playtester Profiles
Chris 5.0 baseline player currently using a Yonex MP Tour-1 Midsize. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a one-handed backhand.
Josh 5.0 all court player currently using the Wilson ProStaff Original 85. Josh has a long, loopy swingstyle, hits with a one-handed backhand and a semi-western forehand.
Wendi 3.0 player currently using a Babolat Pure Control Plus. Wendi is a steady but aggressive player who hits with a semi-western forehand grip and a two-handed backhand.
Don 4.5-5.0 All court player currently using a ProKennex Kinetic 7G. Don is an aggressive player with a medium to fast swing style, using a semi-western forehand grip and a one-handed backhand.
Gran 5.5 all-court player currently using a Head LiquidMetal Prestige Midplus. 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: April 2004. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2004 Tennis Warehouse.

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