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WILSON BLADE 98 18X20 RACKET REVIEW

Price

109,90 €

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Upsides

  • Improved stability over previous model
  • Plush feel
  • Precise feeling

Downsides

  • Not as spin friendly

Summary

With this update, Wilson took the already popular and great playing Blade 98 18x20 and made it even better. Each playtester noticed similar, yet improved, performance over the previous model. A new braided graphite-basalt layup in the frame contributed to a plusher feel and improved responsiveness, allowing our testers to be even more connected to the ball as it left the strings. We also found the sweetspot to be slightly more generous and forgiving, and we experienced less twisting on off-center hits. Although the tight string pattern provided some incredible precision, it also inhibited our ability to produce tons of topspin on groundstrokes and kick serves. All in all, this very impressive update is perfect for the player looking for a traditional-feeling frame with some modern power and forgiveness.

WILSON BLADE 98 18X20 RACKET
Power 72/100
Comfort 89/100
Touch/Feel 88/100
Serves 85/100
Groundstrokes 85/100
Returns 82/100
Slice 85/100
Topspin 82/100
Volleys 84/100

Overall 85/100

Groundstrokes - Score: 85/100

Overall our playtesters really enjoyed the Blade 98 18x20 from the baseline and found it to be an improvement over the previous version. In general, they found it to be more solid and stable at impact, especially on off-center hits, while at the same time providing a softer, plusher feel than its predecessor. Precision and feel were the highlights when hitting groundstrokes, and our team felt they could place the ball wherever they wanted in the court without feel of missing long. However, a couple testers felt they had to try a little harder than normal to generate pace and spin, especially when going for heavy topspin groundstrokes.

Volleys - Score: 84/100

Coming to net and volleying with the Blade 98 18x20 was one of the highlights of the playtest for our team, and they once again loved the precise and responsive feel the racket had to offer. All the players found that they could get the racket in place with ease and use either power or finesse to finish points. This update also felt even more solid and stable than the previous version, which was also a fine racket to take up to net.

Serves - Score: 85/100

Our playtesters continued to appreciate the level of precision and maneuverability the Blade 98 18x20 had to offer, but most of them wished for a bit more easy power and access to spin. Control was certainly the standout feature, and everyone mentioned how consistent they were and how easy it was to aim for specific spots in the service box. We also liked how easy it was to get racket head speed, but a couple testers mentioned that a little more weight may have given some easier power and more spin potential. While no one was blowing opponents away with pace, we were hitting our spots well and still serving effectively.

Serve Returns – Score: 82/100

The maneuverability and solid, precise feel continued to be apparent when returning serve with the Blade 98 18x20, allowing our testers to be aggressive and swing away with confidence when batting away opponents' serves. The plush, comfortable feel also made any off-center hits feel more pleasant than the previous version. A couple testers wished for a bit more heft for punching back chip returns deep in the court, but all in all we were able to swing away and put unsuspecting opponents on the defense quickly and easily.

Likes:

Granville: "The weight and balance are in my sweetspot (not too heavy, not too light), and the plush feel is an upgrade over the previous model."

Andy: "Improved feel and stability over the previous version. Excellent blend of modern power and forgiveness with traditional precision and feel. Awesome for flattening out your shots!"

Troy: "Pinpoint precision, good stability and a 'plush' feel. With some added weight, I could definitely consider switching to this racket."

Michelle: "Really appreciated the control and precision from this racket, especially since those are areas I can struggle with in my own game! Love the new paintjob as well!"

Dislikes:

Granville: "Just a bit too light to really pound my serves and get some extra MPHs."

Andy: "The dense string pattern and small spin window makes it a little difficult to generate heavy topspin from the baseline."

Troy: "Some added weight in the handle to provide a more head light feel, although this is more of a personal preference rather than a knock on the racket."

Michelle: "This update plays solid all around, it just doesnít match my game, so I donít feel itís fair to name anything really as I think the update plays better than the racket it replaces!"

Comparing it to other rackets they've used, our testers said:

Granville: "This new Blade 98 owns that etherial space between the Head Prestige and the Wilson Six.One 95. While less stiff and more comfortable when compared to the Prestige, it has a similar feel to the Six.One."

Andy: "I used to use the previous version as my racket of choice before my recent switch to the Yonex EZONE Ai 98. It had the same blend of attributes that I loved about the previous version, but the feel is slightly softer and plusher and it's more solid when you make contact off-center. I really liked the previous version (enough to make it my own for over a year), but I think I like this update even more! A couple other comparable rackets include the Yonex EZONE Ai 98, Head Graphene Prestige Pro and Babolat Pure Control Tour."

Troy: "I used to play with the KBlade 98, and this newest version feels much more 'plush' and stable in its stock form. With this being said this racket still possesses a lot of the traits that Blade 98 users love about this line of frames. This racket is a prime example of the modern player's racket, along with rackets like the Yonex Ai 98, Head Graphene Radical Pro, Babolat Pure Strike and the Volkl Organix V1 Pro."

Michelle: "Compared to the previous Blade 98, I found this update to have a bit more access to power and spin, which might be due to a bigger sweetspot, and was something I liked despite the tighter 18x20 stringbed."

Playtester Profiles:

Andy: Open level all court player with a semi-western forehand grip and a two handed backhand. Andy currently using a Yonex EZONE Ai 98.

Granville: 5.5 all-court player currently using a Babolat Pure Drive. 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.

Michelle: Open level baseline player with a semi-western forehand and a two handed backhand. She currently plays with the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph.

Troy: 5.0 lefty all-court player with a full Western Forehand and a two-handed backhand. Troy currently plays with a Wilson BLX Six.One 95.


Review date: December 2014. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us: information.en@tenniswarehouse-europe.com.

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