The new Liquidmetal Radical, the latest addition to the Radical series of racquets from Head, introduces a new material to racquet construction. Liquidmetal, a metal with the atomic structure of a liquid, was developed by the California Institute of Technology (CalTech). According to Liquidmetal.com, Liquidmetal alloy provides 29% more power than Titanium. Continued in the Liquidmetal Radical are previous Head technologies such as TwinTube frame construction and Intellifibres.
To trace the history of the Radical line we must first mention the Radical's most famous proponent, Andre Agassi. With the signing of Agassi to Head in 1993, Head launched its first Radical series racquet. Called the Trysis 260 Radical in the US market, this first Radical featured an Integrated Damping System and a 50 percent high modulus graphite, 5 percent Twaron and 45 percent graphite construction. One year after its inception Agassi used it to capture the US Open title, becoming the first unseeded player to win the Open in 28 years.
The first update to the Radical line came in 1995 with the introduction of the TwinTube Radical. The inner hard shell of TwinTube technology is made of pure graphite while the outer shell consists of a soft, absorbing polyamide. The designed benefit of TwinTube construction was to increase ball acceleration and provide more feel. In the Summer of 1997, the TwinTube Radical received a cosmetic update to stay in step with the ever evolving fashion of Agassi.
The Summer of 1999 would see a whole new Radical from Head, the Ti. Radical. The Ti. Radical would continue the TwinTube frame design, but would add the benefits of Titanium to the construction process. For the i.Radical, introduced in 2001, Head would introduce Intellifiber technology to the Radical line and produce the first Radical without a TwinTube frame design since the Trysis 260. Now, with the current Liquidmetal Radical, Head has reintroduced TwinTube frame construction, as well as keeping Intellifiber technology. In addition to the Liquidmetal technology, the Liquidmetal Radical also features Total Sweetspot Construction. For more information on the technology of the Liquidmetal Radical, visit our Head Liquidmetal Radical Technology page.
We playtested the Liquidmetal Radical Midplus (MP) and Oversize (OS) for a period of three weeks.
For our playtest, we strung the Liquidmetal Radical MP up with a 17 gauge multifilament string at 59lbs and added an overgrip. String vibration dampeners were provided and use was left up to the individual preference of the playtester.
The Liquidmetal Radical MP has a heftier feel to it than previous Radicals. As baseline players have traditionally gravitated towards heavier racquets, it was no surprise that the Liquidmetal Radical MP faired well from the baseline with our playtest team. After the three-week playtest Granville said, "one of the outstanding sensations when playing with this racquet was the flexing of the shaft. It was somewhat disconcerting at first, but as I continued to play with the raquet I was gaining confidence with every shot. I feel I can hit out with this racquet with little concern for hitting long. I found the Liquidmetal Radical MP very soft with good control."
Mark did not take long to find the groove with the LiquidMatal Radical MP. saying, "there is a good blend of power, control and maneuverability with this racquet and I was able to hit a variety of groundstrokes (slice, flat, topspin). The moderate power level of the Liquidmetal Radical MP gave me good control but was high enough to let me put the ball away when I took a bigger swing. The only thing I didn't like about the Liquidmetal Radical MP was that I didn't get as much spin on the ball as I have with other racquets."
Heather also quickly found the groove with the Liquidmetal Radical MP, finding her game and confidence improving as the playtest went on. "The amount of power offered by the Liquidmetal Radical MP is perfect for my game," said Heather. "I was able to hit out and be very aggressive with my shots. The more I got used to the racquet, the more I was able to increase the power of my groundstrokes without feeling any loss of control. The Liquidmetal Radical MP felt very solid and stable on topspin groundstrokes and I also saw a significant improvement in my ability to hit slice backhands. I was so confident with my slice backhand that I started using it more on approach shots and when I was pulled wide. The big improvement came from the amount of grip and spin I was generating. I was so happy with how I hit with this racquet that I have decided to make the switch to it from my Wilson ProStaff (ProStaff 6.0 95)."
Another player deciding to make the switch to the Liquidmetal Radical MP by the end of the playtest was Chad. "This is my new racquet of choice," said Chad. "The Liquidmetal Radical MP's sweetspot provides the feel of solid impact on almost every shot. Rarely did it feel like I mis-hit a ball. I felt like I could sit back on the baseline and go pound for pound with anybody with this racquet. I was highly impressed with the Liquidmetal Radical MP's performance from the baseline."
Drew said "I thoroughly enjoyed hitting groundstrokes with Liquidmetal Radical MP. There's a very solid feel, ample power and excellent control. The swingweight and string pattern do not make this a super topspin racquet, but I could hit heavy (pace + spin) groundstrokes and produce fairly good angles. The comfort is quite notable - there was no harshness at all on mis-hits, yet I could still "feel" the ball. Slices were effective; they were biting and stayed low. There was no unstable feeling in the head that happens on slices with lighter racquets."
Chris agreed, saying "this is one of the most comfortable player's racquets off the ground I have used in awhile. The feeling from the stringbed is very much what I'd call classic Head - it is both solid and comfortable, yet there is no loss of feel. The Liquidmetal Radical MP has some great off-the-shelf weight to it, which adds to the solid feel. I was able to generate a lot of racquet head speed with this racquet and enjoyed plenty of topspin on both forehands and backhands as a result. The sweetspot is generous and there are no surprises or 'hot zones' to be wary of. Although I hit some nice slice backhands, I think I could get more from the racquet on this shot with even more weight added to the frame. Mid-court shots felt good and I was getting enough control to really hit out on anything above net height." Combined Score 80
The solid feel our team found at the baseline with the Liquidmetal Radical MP continued at the net. Even our two baseline players appreciated the playability of the Liquidmetal Radical MP at net. First up was Heather. "I'm not a natural net player and prefer to finish the point off from the mid court on short balls, but I volleyed fairly well with this racquet. I liked the fact that the racquet remained stable even when I was reaching for low or wide volleys. Again, I liked the amount of power I was getting and I was able to keep my volleys nice and deep."
Our other baseline player, Drew, said, "volleys with the Liquidmetal Radical MP were effective and predictable. I'm not a great volleyer but unless I blew the shot the ball generally went where I wanted it to go. Although it might not sound like it, this is fairly high praise. I had a lot of confidence at the net (also high praise)."
Granville, who is probably the most frequent visitor to the net on our team said, "once again, the Radical heritage is obvious - good touch on the volleys but this time with a bit more pop. I attribute this to the slight increase in mass in the Liquidmetal Radical MP with its just over 11-ounce weight." Chris said he "found it easy to maneuver the Liquidmetal Radical MP at net. I felt confident going for my shots with this racquet and was getting a lot of feel from the stringbed. The large sweetspot proved to be very consistent and gave the racquet a comfortable and forgiving feel. I also hit some really nice inside-out volleys, managing to apply a little sidespin to create some additional angle."
Chad said he had "no complaints really on the volley. The Liquidmetal Radical MP is a bit heavier than what I'm used to, so maneuverability becomes more of an issue. Other than that, the sweetspot still felt crisp and clean." The weight of the Liquidmetal Radical MP was not an issue for Mark on the volley. "The Liquidmetal Radical MP felt great at the net," said Mark, "I found it very maneuverable and the power level was high enough to put volleys away, but not so high that control suffered. The sweetspot is somewhat limited by the Midplus head size, but hitting the ball near the center of the racquet head produced excellent results." Combined Score 78
The serve drew mostly positive results from our playtesters. Chris said, "I found the Liquidmetal Radical MP to be equally beneficial to flat and spin serving. There is no extended length or power grommet system to boost serving speed, but the placement of the Liquidmetal seems to make for a generous and consistent sweetspot. The Liquidmetal Radical MP is basically one of those racquets where the player gets out what he or she puts in. Consistency has to be the major benefit I found with this racquet on the serve."
Mark said that he "had good control and reasonable power with the Liquidmetal Radical MP. A few more miles per hour wouldn't have hurt, but the serves I did hit were solid and consistent. Hitting kick serves with the Liquidmetal Radical MP was a problem. My second serves didn't have as much kick as I would have liked. Players with more arm speed should be able to hit a decent kick serve, but my medium swing speed wasn't enough to overcome the tight string pattern."
Drew said, "I was very happy with my first serves - particularly the flat serves. I could consistently hit powerful serves with good accuracy. My slice serves didn't have any more slice than usual, but they did have more pace which made them very effective. Second serves were less impressive. With its tight string pattern and ample mass, I couldn't simply swing away and count on topspin to bring the ball down into the court. I certainly wasn't hitting powder-puff second serves, but I had to aim a little more towards the center of the service box and take a little more off than I would have with racquets that produce more spin. However, overheads felt great with the Liquidmetal Radical MP and there was plenty of power to put the ball away."
Unlike Mark and Drew, Chad found the weight of the Liquidmetal Radical MP a slightly better fit to his swing speed when serving. "Power and spin, what else can you ask for?" said Chad. "The Liquidmetal Radical MP seems to do everything right. The heavier frame (relative to past versions) felt great and I could accelerate through the ball with exceptional racquet head speed." Granville said, "I've always like serving with these racquets, finding excellent control with a nice soft feel. What you may lose in speed (due to flex) you replace with better control." Heather found she could hit some "really nice slice-kick and topspin-kick serves with the Liquidmetal Radical MP. I was able to generate the spin I was seeking while still hitting a penetrating serve. The occasional flat serves I hit had about the same power and pace as with my regular racquet." Combined Score 79
For the most part, our team found plenty of control when returning with the Liquidmetal Radical MP. Chad said, "anytime you're comfortable with a racquet it definitely reflects on your service return performance. I felt like I could attack my returns knowing that each shot would come off my racquet the way I wanted it to feel. The enhanced sweetspot always helps with returns (especially me)."
Chris found the Liquidmetal Radical MP to be surprisingly maneuverable on the return. "I had no problems getting the Liquidmetal Radical MP around on the return," said Chris. "I found plenty of feel on chip returns or short angles when I wanted to mix things up, as well as enjoying control on hard hit drive returns. The Liquidmetal Radical MP felt like it had a generous sweetspot and I was able to keep my returns deep and hit with good pace. Most importantly, I found a very consistent response from the stringbed with no hot spots to be wary of."
Heather said, "I was really driving my backhands with the Liquidmetal Radical MP. I was finding just the right blend of power and control to drive the ball off both wings, but really felt the benefit of this on my backhand. I was hitting down-the-line returns with more force and confidence and was able to find my target on a consistent basis. I really can't ask for much more than that."
When hitting returns, Mark noted that the racquet head felt smaller than on other shots. "My slice return was solid," said Mark, "but my flat and topspin returns were inconsistent. The head-light balance made the racquet too maneuverable on returns. The racquet head would pass through the hitting area too quickly, resulting in a lot of mis-hits. A little lead tape to alter the balance slightly would probably solve this problem."
Granville enjoyed hitting returns with the Liquidmetal Radical MP, saying, "having the option to hit out and not worry about hitting long is a big confidence booster and often allows me to try for a bit more than I would ordinarily. With such a soft stick, I feel I can put the ball just about anywhere and control the pace of the return for even better control and placement."
Also returning well with the Liquidmetal Radical MP was Drew. He said "I had good control and plenty of power on my returns with this racquet. Slice returns, which I only mixed in as a change of pace, were very controllable and effective." Combined Score 77
Our team noticed a heftier feel to the Liquidmetal Radical MP compared to the two previous Radicals. In most instances the extra heft was welcomed by our playtesters, with the exception of Chad on the volley and Mark on the serve. The most noticeable features our team found were the comfort and solid feel of the racquet. Two of our team members have decided to switch to the Liquidmetal Radical MP since participating in the playtest which says a lot for a racquet introducing a brand new technology.Combined Score 83
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
For our playtest we strung the Liquidmetal Radical OS with a 17 gauge multifilament string at 61lbs and added an overgrip. String vibration dampeners were provided and use was left up to the individual preference of the playtester.
Offering a larger hitting area and a bit more pop, the Liquidmetal Radical OS is slightly more forgiving in play than the Liquidmetal Radical MidPlus and should appeal to a larger spectrum of player levels. First to comment on groundstrokes was Chris. He said "I found plenty of power on my groundstrokes with the Liquidmetal Radical OS. I enjoyed hitting slice backhands which became effortless when I caught the ball well out in front. However, I felt the Liquidmetal Radical OS had more to offer on the forehand side, where I enjoyed some nice topspin cross court angles. If I had a two handed backhand I might have enjoyed hitting groundstrokes much more, but I just didn't feel like I was reaping the benefits of the Oversize head shape with my one handed drive. I just wasn't getting the same amount of topspin on my backhand as I was generating with the Liquidmetal Radical MP. As with most Oversize racquets, I found I had the cunning ability to launch the occasional groundstroke for no apparent reason. This was no surprise to me, as I usually find myself lacking some control when hitting with an Oversize racquet. To counter, I normally string the racquet right at the maximum recommended tension. With the test racquet strung at only 62lbs, I did not have a chance to see if an increase in tension would result in an increase in control and confidence. Although the stringbed does not have what I would call a true hot spot, it is definitely livelier than the Midplus. I also noticed a more forgiving feel on off-center shots and found the Liquidmetal Radical OS to be extremely comfortable. It is one of the better Oversize racquets I've hit with in some time."
Granville also found the Liquidmetal Radical OS to be very comfortable. He said, "I had great confidence when using this racquet and I was able to really trust my strokes. I found a slight boost in power and comfort compared to hitting with the Liquidmetal Radical MP. Whether hitting forehands or backhands, I was able to put the ball deep in either corner or hit short side to side to really 'work' my opponent."
Mark said, "the Liquidmetal Radical OS comes very close to being a great racquet. Like the Liquidmetal Radical MP, the Liquidmetal Radical OS has an excellent blend of power, control and maneuverability. The power level is a little higher with the OS, but it's still low enough to provide good control from the baseline. The extra power helped me hit wide balls with more authority, and it made my slices more effective. I was able to hit solid forehands and backhands without taking a huge swing, and I was able to place the ball with confidence. The one factor that keeps me from putting the Liquidmetal Radical OS into the "great racquet" category was my inability to generate a lot of spin." Combined Score 72
If the Liquidmetal Radical OS impressed our playtesters from the baseline, it really started to shine at the net. "Once again the new Radical offers good comfort with a soft and lively stringbed," said Granville. "As with any Oversize racquet, if you are off center a bit you will feel that ever so slight wobble, but this can be minimized by dropping the tension a pound or two. The racquet has some added punch due to the slight increase in mass - but it is a noticeable improvement, especially on the high forehand volley where you can really punch it for the put-a-way. On the drop shot, I found a very delicate touch with little to no adjustment from my usual racquet."
Chris said he "really enjoyed volleying with Liquidmetal Radical OS. I found much more control on the volley than I had on groundstrokes. The maneuverability and weight of the Liquidmetal Radical OS seemed perfect for volleying, with a nice blend of stability, comfort, power and control. I was able to just direct the ball to my intended target when my opponent supplied the pace, but I also had good results hitting slower balls when I needed to punch the volley. When hitting low volleys and half-volleys I appreciated the larger sweetspot offered by the Oversize head shape."
Mark said, "The Liquidmetal Radical OS is very effective at the net. It was versatile enough to let me put the ball away or keep it in play, depending on the situation. I find a lot of oversize racquets have too much power at the net. This makes it tough to hit low volleys. With the Liquidmetal Radical OS I was able to keep the low balls in play and put away the high balls. Plus, the maneuverability was excellent and the sweetspot large. Combined Score 85
Our team soon settled into a good rhythm on the serve with the Liquidmetal Radical OS. Chris said "the extra power that I struggled to control from the baseline worked in my favor on the serve. I found my first serve had a little extra zip when I flattened it out on the down the 'T' serve. Spin serves got plenty of bite from the stringbed and I hit some nice kick and slice serves to open up the court. I also found the Liquidmetal Radical OS to be very solid when hitting overheads. I managed to get enough power and accuracy to put all but the most difficult to reach overheads away, and I found the racquet really responded to a good wrist snap."
As with the Liquidmetal Radical MP, Mark found the OS a good serving racquet with the exception of generating spin. "I served very consistently with the Liquidmetal Radical OS, with an occasional exceptional serve thrown in," said Mark. "The control was excellent and the power adequate. It was also very easy on my arm. The one serve I had problems with was the kick serve. I couldn't generate enough spin to get the high bounce needed to make a kick serve effective. I was able to place the serves well, but my opponent was able to return them too easily because they would just sit up and wait to be hit."
Granville said, "the Liquidmetal Radical OS is a very sweet racquet to play with and serving with the racquet is just anther example of this. I noticed the added 1/2 ounce more in the OS version (from the i.Radical OS) when serving. That little extra mass definitely delivers a bit more pop on the serve as compared to previous Radicals. The racquet even feels more solid at impact while maintaining its flexibility. On overheads this was a racquet where the more I played with it the more confident I became. The overhead is a good example of the playability of the racquet. On a simple offensive overhead I can put the ball away with little thought. In a more defensive position I have the control and soft feel to take a little off the ball and roll a softer cross court placement, giving me a shot at turning defense into offense. At the 11-ounce mark for weight it gives you a few more options than a heavier racquet might." Combined Score 77
Remembering that this is the racquet of choice for one of the greatest returners in the game, our playtesters had high expectations for the Liquidmetal Radical OS. Chris was first up, saying, "as on the groundstrokes, I would have liked to have hit returns with a Liquidmetal Radical OS strung up near the maximum recommended tension range. I felt like the ball was flying on me a bit on the return. I think the Liquidmetal Radical OS is more than capable of handling higher tensions without sacrificing comfort or feel as it really is an arm friendly racquet. Even with the test racquet strung lower than my ideal tension I was able to hit some nice chip returns and be consistent with drive returns if I took a little pace off. The racquet also felt quite maneuverable. I felt I could have added some weight to the frame and still been able to get the racquet around on the return."
Granville found he could hit out with confidence on the return, saying "when returning with the Radical I was able to swing out and play offensive tennis right from the get go. While I'm sure Agassi could return serve the way he does with a 2x4, it comes as no surprise that this is his racquet of choice. It must be perfectly suited for his game." Mark said the Liquidmetal Radical OS "was well suited for returning serves. The oversize head provides a large sweetspot and the moderate power level allows for a full swing with good control. It's also very maneuverable and stable. However, I did have some returns sail on me because they didn't have enough spin." Combined Score 73
The Liquidmetal Radical OS is a comfortable racquet that excelled at the net and turned in a solid performance everywhere else. Our playtesters found a good blend of power, stability and control on most shots, but there where times when playtesters struggled to generate the spin they were seeking. When serving with the Liquidmetal Radical OS our team found control as well as power. Again, comfort was a noticeable quality of the racquet when serving. In our opinion, this latest version of the ever evolving Radical has a lot to offer and is every bit as worthy of continuing the Radical name as previous versions. Combined Score 78
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
|Chris||5.0 all-court player currently using a Yonex MP Tour-1 Midsize.|
|Chad||5.0 all-court player currently using a Head i.tour switching to the Liquidmetal Radical MP.|
|Granville||5.5 all-court player currently using a Wilson Hyper ProStaff 6.1 95.|
|Mark||5.0-5.5 Serve and Volleyer currently using a Prince Thunder 820.|
|Drew||4.5 All court player currently using the Wilson Triad ProStaff 6.0.|
|Heather||4.5-5.0 All court player currently using the Wilson Original ProStaff 6.0 95 and switching to the Liquidmetal Radical MP.|
Review date: August, 2003. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2003 Tennis Warehouse.