By Chris Edwards
Built for a legend by a legend, the Vapor 9 Tour was designed for Roger Federer by Tinker Hatfield. Hatfield is a footwear genius. He is considered a god among sneakerheads and is most notable for his designs of Nike's iconic Jordan basketball shoes (Jordan III through XV, as well as XX and XXIII).
Working with Federer, Hatfield set out to design a shoe that offered an exceptionally lightweight feel, yet provided all the support and performance needed to compete at the ultimate level.
After wearing these shoes for a couple of months, all I can say is, boy, did he nail it.
I've simply not worn anything like the Vapor 9 Tour, and I've been playtesting shoes since 1996.
The finger-like design of the upper that connects to the lace system wraps my feet like nothing else. It enables me to find a completely custom fit around my foot. Each time I lace up the shoes, it is like they have been tailor made to fit perfectly.
An early morning hit when it's cool? No problem. I can cinch each lace so it perfectly pulls in the part of the upper where I need a tighter fit and more support. A late afternoon hit on a hot day when my feet are a little swollen? No problem. I can cinch the shoes exactly where needed and leave them looser where I need more room.
Support is simply amazing in this shoe. It was so impressive for me that it overshadowed the other performance aspects. My feet felt perfectly locked in place, and I didn't have to make any sacrifices in comfort to get that locked-in feel. The chassis flexed perfectly. It provided a fast feel yet was stiff enough to provide a stable ride.
All the support, comfort and stability would be nothing without traction, and the Vapor 9 Tour didn't disappoint. The shoes gripped the court very well. I could take aggressive lateral cuts and confidently trust the shoes were going to offer the needed grip. Likewise, I could sprint forward or come to a quick stop and the shoes always provided the necessary hook-up.
I have found the durability to be in line with previous Vapors. It's not Ballistec like, but these shoes last as expected for a lightweight speed shoe. They are durable enough that I can train in them and don't have to save them for match play.
I've tested a lot of shoes, but the Vapor 9 Tour takes it to a new level. The hard court performance was simply superb. If I had one knock it would be the ventilation of the SL version, but there are mesh versions of this shoe to take care of that. At the end of this test I'm left with no doubt, this is the best tennis shoe I've ever worn.