Wilson Clash 98 Tennis Racquet Full Review: Flexible, Solid, Powerful and Precise
THE GOOD | The Clash 98 is the most flexible 98 on the market, by a long shot. This makes it extremely arm-friendly. The out-of-the-box power and precision is greater than any other thinner beamed 98 sq. in. head size racquet, period. Driving deep shots with precision was easier than one would ever expect.
THE BAD | The Clash lines' smooth feel and flexibility may be off-putting at first (it takes a little getting used to), especially for those who have been playing with much stiffer racquets. You have to give it a chance.
THE BASE LINE | The Clash 98 has an unbelievable blend of pop and precision. I personally went into the playtest harboring doubts about the Clash line; however, the Clash 98 is now my favorite 98 sq. in. racquet. The racquet does away with any notion that there is in fact a clash between power and precision. Keep an open mind (in regards to its high-flex feel) and you'll find it's well worth the time you spend making this racquet your own. A wide variety of players are able to benefit from the amazing technologies found inside the Clash line.
Overall Rating: 4.8/5 Stars
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“We not only created the most flexible racquet ever, but we created a racquet that is as stable as any racquet on the market today” - Michael Schaeffer (Global Product Line Manager, Wilson)
A ROUND UP
The Wilson Clash 98 tennis racquet gave me the “wow” that its bigger brothers made their names with. The Clash 98 surprised me with its precision, pop, ball dwell-time and forgiveness. I don’t sing the praises of many racquets, but this is truly an exception. The Clash 98 brings the best blend of precision and power possible for a feel oriented 98 sq. in. racquet.
We highly recommend trying out the Clash 98 if you:
-Have a 98 racquet but need a better blend of power & precision
-Are looking for a forgiving 98 sq. in. head size
-If the 100 line didn’t feel solid enough for you
-Need a healthier experience for your arm
-Are looking for a new racquet
-Enjoy feeling new technology
At 11.4 ounces (323 g) strung, the Clash 98 comes with the weight of the Clash 100 Tour in a 98 sq. in. package. The 98 comes with more pop by far than any other thinner-beamed racquet. Hitting lines and corners felt far too easy for such a powerful racquet. The solidity of the 98 was everything I had hoped for. In my opinion (an intermediate player who uses a Pro Staff 97C), the Clash 100 had a slightly hollow feel and lacked stability. The Clash 100 Tour felt more stable, but still lacked something I couldn’t quite put into words. I was doubtful and almost negative going into the Clash 98 playtest, but boy was I pleasantly surprised. I was able to hit corners and lines right off the bat, even without being used to its super low 51 flex rating (Babolat RDC).
TECHNOLOGY & DESIGN REVIEW
The Clash 98 came to be thanks to “3 different ideas that didn’t work on their own”. Wilson has introduced two new technologies with the Clash series – Stable Smart and Freeflex Powered by Carbon Mapping.
Stable Smart has given the Clash 98 extreme stability, precision and power, with a relatively thin beam at 24 mm. Combined with its accessible strung weight of 11.4 oz (323g) and "thin" beam, Wilson has truly created a frame that is extremely precise and powerful, things that are usually on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Free Flex Powered by Carbon Mapping- The Clash 98 blends in all-new dimensions throughout the frame so that the player can swing freely with more confidence. It is this flex (including dwell-time and ball-pocketing) that makes this racquet feel so different than anything else out there. Although a different feel might be off-putting at first, you are doing yourself a disservice if you refuse to give the racquet the chance it so deserves. Free Flex allows for some of the best ball-pocketing, dwell-time and control available.
During our playtest, both the precision and power were shocking. Right off the bat I was hitting corners and lines with ease. The intense flex-feeling was a bit distracting at first but after a couple of rallies that started to fade into the background.
While at the baseline, the Clash 98 is extremely stable and forgiving for its weight class. Mis-hits seemed to be less of a problem than with other 98s in similar weight classes. Power and spin are easy to access without being harsh. While hitting forehands, we were able to hit both the touch-shot and big put-away without losing stability or comfort. Backhands were stable and forgiving, allowing you to rip shots down the line or hit a penetrating slice with ease. With an open 16x19 string pattern, the Clash also allows you to get plenty of spin to move your opponent off court, setting up the put-away shot with ease.
“As stable as the leading racquet on the market today, but twice as flexible” - Eloisa Compostizo (Advanced Innovation Engineer, Wilson)
Rallies felt great; longer rallies felt soft on the arm. The head-light balance at 9 points (strung) made it whippy; we never felt that we were struggling to get around balls. You could hit both penetrating put-away volleys and touch volleys with ease, making it a very versatile racquet at the net. Overhead smashes were forgiving when hit off center. Overall, net play was quick and easy.
And lastly, the serve. Serving with the Clash 98 was a delight. It came with lots of pop and whip for easy high serve speeds. On contact, the plush feel of the Clash is amazing; you get so much power without any harsh vibrations. Longer service games didn't feel as harsh on the body overall.
Overall the Wilson Clash 98 is a versatile, accessible frame for intermediate and advanced level players. Wilson was going for a “wow” factor 98 sq. in. racquet, and that is what they have made. Anyone looking for more ball-pocketing, pop, feel, flexibility, stability & precision should give this racquet serious consideration.
(NOTE: Although looking at specs can be helpful, we advise you not to place too much importance on any one spec in particular. The Clash line is so different than anything you've ever felt that it really requires you to not judge this book by its cover. If the racquet's weight seems too low to you, we can always customize the frame for you by weight, swing-weight and balance at no extra cost (this includes matching racquets up for purchases of 2 or more).
Wilson Clash 98: Key Specs
|Headsize||98 sq. in.|
|Unstrung Weight||10.9 oz / 310 g|
|Strung Weight||11.4 oz / 323g|
|Flex - Strung(RDC)||51|
|Balance||12 pts HL / 30.6 cm|
|Strung Balance||9 pts HL / 31.4 cm|
|String Pattern||16 x 19|
|Tension Range||48-58 lbs|
|Color||Black, Clash Red, Grey|