Babolat Pure Drive + GT 2012 Racquet Review

Written by Jason

 

INTRODUCTION:

The Pure Drive + has always been one of my personal favorite racquets. The Pure Drive Team Plus (the 2003 edition) was the first Babolat frame I ever played with. Over the last few years given my heavy tinkering with racquets I have always come back to some sort of close variation of a Pure Drive +. This 2012 edition is one that EVERYONE who plays an older Pure Drive should come out of hiding and enjoy the absolute brilliance offered by this frame. As is our routine, at the beginning of every year, we playtest every racquet that comes through the door so that you – the customer – are pointed in the right direction. At the beginning of 2012 my racquet of choice (as had been pretty consistently throughout most of 2010 and 2011) was the Babolat Aero Pro Drive GT with a few visits and re-visits to the Babolat Pure Drive Roddick + GT. In comparison to all plus models of the Pure Drive in the past, this one stands out even above the original 1998 Pure Drive + in my opinion. Comparisons will be made to all previous models of the Pure Drive +.

Babolat Pure Drive + GT 2012

Racquet – Babolat Pure Drive + GT 2012
Head Size – 100 sq. in
Unstrung Weight – 10.6 ounces (300 grams)
Balance – 5 points Head Light
Length – +1/2 inch (27.5″ long)

SERVE

The Pure Drive series of has been posterized by Andy Roddick and Carlos Moya since its inception in 1994. Andy Roddick’s own version of the Pure Drive Plus was responsible for the longest standing world record for the fastest serve from 2004 to 2011. Roddick was the first to break the 140 and 150 mph barriers. Aside from Roddick’s flawless motion, the properties of the Pure Drive series definitely helps add a few miles per hour to the serve. Even in comparison to Head’s Extreme MP and Extreme Pro, Wilson’s Juice 100, Donnay’s Formula 100 and Prince’s EXO3 Warrior 100, the Pure Drives have always been in a class of their own in regards to the amount of power you will receive on serve. All of that being said, in comparison with it’s previous versions, the active cortex technology displayed at the base of the throat of the racquet significantly upgraded this model. My initial thoughts when comparing this newest plus model to the royal blue plus model from 2009-2011 was that the newer model had a nice injection of feel and added stability. I felt I could snap through the point of contact on my serve just a little bit faster and with more confidence due to the added solidity provided by the new technology. When comparing this 2012 model to my personal favorite model from 1998, it further confirmed my feelings about the jump in technology. What most “Pure Drivers” – or those who have played the Pure Drive for many generations – liked about the model from 1998 was the added stiffness it had and the extra plowthrough and power on serves that it gave in comparison to the model from 2003, the first cortex model and the first GT model. The only downside to the original 1998 plus model was that it’s increased stiffness was largely going unchecked and later models offered softer feels to protect the arm. This latest version of the Babolat Pure Drive Plus outperformed each earlier version noticeably in every category of serving. Angle on slice serves proved easier, balls jumped higher on kick serves and flat serves not only felt much better than any previous version but the result was outstanding.

Pure Drive Plus 2012 Rating out of 100 – 93
Previous model highest score out of 100 – 88

 

VOLLEY

The only category Pure Drives – especially in the plus model – have never done fantastic in is feel and touch on volleys. The boost of feel that the 2012 model offered me made this category the biggest separation in comparison with older models. Depth was easily accessed and touch and feel were not hard to find unlike previous versions of this racquet. The Pure Drive + 2012 stands out as above and beyond it’s predecessors in terms of it’s feel on the touch volleys and provides the same easy depth that users enjoyed in past models for put-away volleys.

Pure Drive + 2012 rating out of 100 – 85
Previous model highest score out of 100 – 75

 

GROUNDSTROKES

The power and easy depth that a Pure Drive provides has always been the Pure Drive’s signature. A player with a lot of topspin will enjoy hitting a bigger, faster ball that goes deeper in the court and a player with a moderate amount of spin will enjoy the added ball speed and depth that this will offer. The fact that the Pure Drive + is a half inch longer than it’s standard length Pure Drive brother, has always meant that the Pure Drive + offers the opportunity to hit more spin and have easier access to extra power. All previous models had the tendancy to feel “tinny” at the point of contact on groundstrokes. The added feel of the Pure Drive + 2012 made the point of contact on forehands and backhands feel like I was hitting the ball with Thor’s Hammer. Plowthrough is by far the best word to describe the improvement of this racquet on groundstrokes. On my two-handed backhand in particular, I was able to swing away at the ball and found that the best part of the upgrade in stability and feel was how easy it was to change direction of the ball on my backhand side when forced to hit a backhand from the middle of the court. Going inside out on the backhand felt almost as easy as hitting one cross-court and as a result I felt even more confident in my backhand with this racquet.

Pure Drive + 2012 rating out of 100 – 87
Previous model highest score out of 100 – 82

 

SLICE (Underspin Backhand)

The most important detail involved in a slice backhand is to hit it low over the net and deep in the court in order to give you time to hopefully run around your opponent’s next shot and hit a forehand. Control was very easily accessed with this 2012 model. Slices were better than previous models when compared over a long period of time.

Pure Drive + 2012 rating out of 100 – 82
Previous model highest score out of 100 – 80

TOPSPIN

Outside of Babolat’s Aero Pro Drive, the Babolat Pure Drive + 2012 is one of the most spin-friendly racquets on the market. Topspin generation was absolutely superb in this 2012 extended length edition of the Pure Drive. Players who provide moderate amounts of topspin will enjoy the added depth that the Pure Drive + will offer. Advanced players who provide heavy topspin to their shots will enjoy the extra spin this frame will offer without having to exert extra energy to go for more.

Pure Drive + 2012 rating out of 100 – 87
Previous model highest score out of 100 – 86

FEEL

The active cortex technology in the handle and the single tube inner design of the handle on the 2012 Pure Drive + give this racquet a decided upgrade in feel without sacrificing the power driven shots that it’s users look for from the frame. In addition, the 2012 Pure Drive + is the most comfortable feeling of any version of the Pure Drive + in spite of the fact that it is also the stiffest version of it’s kind.

Pure Drive + 2012 rating out of 100 – 83
Previous model highest score out of 100 – 76

FINAL SCORES:

SERVE – 93 (+5)
VOLLEY – 85 (+10)
GROUNDSROKES – 87 (+5)
SLICE – 82 (+2)
TOPSPIN – 87 (+1)
FEEL – 83 (+7)

OVERALL SCORE – 86

If you would like to demo or purchase this racquet, please give us a call at (301) 230-9195 or you can email us at info@tennistopia.com.