My good friend, tennis player and racquet reviewer for the Swedish Tennis Magazine, Henrik Wallensten, managed to get a hold of the new Radical MP for a few days and here is his HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP racquet review. Thanks Henrik for another brilliant contribution.
Before we delve deeper into the HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP racquet review, let’s delve back into some HEAD history…
Back in 1993, the hard-hitting American André Agassi was one of the biggest stars in the game. He had previously been using a Prince Oversize-frame (The famous Prince Original Graphite with a cross-bar stabilizer) and then a Donnay oversize. When Austrian based company HEAD started the work on a new frame for the hot American, they were looking at Andre’s previous frames. Out of the baking-ovens in the factory at Wuhrkopfweg 1 in Kennelbach came an oversize-frame with a stiff feel, magic power, and great spin potential. André took some time to find the right groove with his new frame, but after a while, Andre and his Radical racquet was a match made in heaven.
HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP Racquet Review – A Radical history lesson
Andre continued to use the Head Radical through his entire career and he was the big poster-boy of Head. Since the first Radical tour (or the Trisys as it was called in the US) we have seen a bunch of different versions of the Radical with technologies like Intellifibres, Microgel, Liquidmetal, Flexpoint and so on, but since a couple of years, the famous oversize version of Radical is no more. The last oversize was the Innegra (IG) Radical.
After the IG Radical, the series changed direction again. Going from a soft flex with good feel, Radical once again was heading for the stiffer feel with the new Graphene-rackets. The new, stiffer Radicals were very popular among the juniors and has been in the last models, but among the purists, the somewhat stiff feel has not exactly been the flavor of the month. But my feeling about this HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP racquet review, is that it might change.
HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP Racquet Review – Specs and Tech
Maybe things will change now though, in the year of 2019, when Head launches the new Graphene 360 Radical. The 360 Radical has, as the name points out, the new Graphene 360 technology. What is the new technology? Well, it´s enforced parts in the frame with extra graphene materials. HEAD have placed it in the shaft and in the head at 9, 12 and 3 (clockwise). When I have tested the 360-tech in Extreme and Instinct rackets, I have felt a more muted, well-dampened feel so it was interesting to see how 360 performed in the Radical.
HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP Racquet Review – Specs:
WEIGHT (UNSTRUNG): 295 g / 10.4 oz
STRING PATTERN: 16/19
HEAD SIZE:630 cm² / 98 in²
BALANCE: 320 mm / 1 in HL
LENGTH: 685 mm / 27.0 in
BEAM: 20/23/21 mm
HEAD in Sweden was so kind to let me borrow the new Radical over the Easter-holiday for an equipment update in the Swedish Tennis Magazine (where I write travel and equipment articles) and also the chance to write an early mini-review here at Jonas’ magnificent site tennisnerd.net. The frame I got was the Graphene 360 MP in grip 3. As soon as I got the frame, I noticed a major difference: the grip-shape! Radical have since the birth always had the more rectangular shaped grip (first TK57 and later TK82) but now it will have the rounder TK82S that first was launched in the Youtek Speed and now is used in Extreme, Instinct, Speed, MXG and Radical-series. I would not be surprised if the Prestige when it gets the 360 update also will have the TK82S pallets.
HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP Racquet Review – Performance
Normally, I always cut out the pre-strung factory strings when I get a frame to test, but the Radical I only had a couple of days, so I was testing it with the factory string. A black co-poly strung at an estimated 52 to 54 pounds. First test was on indoor hard with the Dunlop Australian Open ball and second test was outdoor on the Swedish clay courts (they are more like gravel-courts then clay here) with the magnificent RS Tour edition.
The design of the new Radical is nice and not so messy like the last versions. It sports clean lines and gives a premium look. It now feels like HEAD has a good strategy with all their designs. Out on court, it was interesting to see how the frame performed. First strokes from the baseline were easy and precise. Straight away you notice that the feel of this version is much more muted than previous versions. There are no vibrations at all finding its way down to your hand and arm. It´s also very noticeable that this is a very polarized frame. There is a lot of weight in the tip and bottom of this racket. When the pace is increased, you will feel that it is a solid and stable frame. It offers good control and is intended for players with a flat, powerful game. On serves, it creates a big ball and the sound you get from the frame when hitting the sweet spot is wicked.
HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP Racquet Review – Playability
Volleys are precise and sharp and thanks to the light weight of the frame, it´s easy to manoeuvre on quick exchanges at net. I was playing indoor against a really good junior player with hard, heavy strokes and the 295-gram unstrung weight had no problem whatsoever to withstand the shots. My normal set-up has been a 315-gram unstrung weight with a 31.5 cm balance, but I have just recently changed my go-to racket to the new Wilson Clash Tour with a 310-gram unstrung weight and around 30,5 cm balance. The polarized setup of the Radical 360 has a big part in this. You simply don’t need to make it much heavier to get some good plow.
Next test was outdoors on clay (gravel), on a beautiful, warm Swedish spring day with 21 degrees Celsius and no wind at all. This time up against a senior player with good patience. Perfect for a test! Going from the Clash Tour with its very open string pattern to the more closed pattern of the Radical, you immediately notice that the spin in the Radical is not the focus. It is all about control and stability in this frame. Perfect for the attacking player. To get a better spin, I would try a lower tension and/or a shaped co-poly string. The tension and round poly in the demo frame were not helping the spin at all and I guess if I had some more time with this frame I could surely find a good string/tension combination that would fit my game.
HEAD Graphene 360 Radical MP Racquet Review – Summary
The IG Radical Pro was my go to frame back in the days, and with some more love to this racket in the form of a leather grip, a little squirt with the silicone gun into the handle and a restring with a string like Tour Bite or Hawk Rough, well, then I guess this frame could easily be a frame I would call my go to frame as well.