Originally published on 05/01/16 00:00
When HEAD designed the first Radical back in the early 1990s, Andre Agassi was the man they had in mind. Brash, brilliant and with a style all of his own, the American was a marketeer’s dream, and HEAD’s gamble – signing Agassi while he dealt with a serious wrist injury and handing him their oversized black and yellow ‘bumblebee’ frame – paid off handsomely.
Little did they know then that Agassi would go on to be the oldest man to hold the world No.1 ranking, aged 33 in 2003 – and that his signature stick would remain at the top of the game for over a decade to come, in the hands of another player who has never been satisfied with simply running with the pack.
In Agassi’s wake, Andy Murray is now the face of the HEAD Radical, which has recently received its latest technological update with the introduction of Graphene XT, a new carbon configuration that makes the frame up to 30% stronger.
This strength allows HEAD’s engineers to redistribute the weight to the handle and tip of the frame, where it can have a greater influence on power and control, rather than around the typically weak throat, requiring less material to maintain the frame’s structural integrity.
The result, notable when Graphene was first introduced to the Radical in 2013, is a marked improvement in racket response and a rise in swingweight, the power-boosting force that the racket can impart on the ball at the point of impact, without a huge effect on manoeuvrability.
HEAD boasts that the energy transfer when striking a ball is as much as 10% better compared to older models. HEAD has released six different versions of the Radical, each with their own quirks. Grabbing the headlines is the introductionof ASP to a separate version of the flagship MP frame, the Radical MPA, offering players the chance to try out the same racket with stringbeds geared for power and spin or control.
At this point it may be worth noting that, in his first year with the original Radical, Agassi experimented with three different string patterns before settling on the rare 20×21 setup he stuck with for the vast majority of his career. But while he needed (and had) a small army of engineers in Austria awaiting his instructions, you can tinker with your own setup for the price of a string job.
Designed with the creative all-court player in mind, the Radical family has traditionally been billed as a responsive, control-oriented racket with ready access to power. The heavyweight Radical Pro, weighing in at 310g unstrung, will certainly have the power game covered, while the Rev Pro is the ideal racket for a junior wishing to make the jump to a Radical, retaining the headsize and beam width while stripping an extra 25g out of the standard MP frame and also featuring ASP.
The lighter S and Lite models, with their larger head sizes (102 sq.in compared to the Pro and MPA’s 98 sq.in) and thicker beams, are geared at ensuring the ball comes off the strings as you intended no matter your level. All six versions are compatible with Sony’s Smart Tennis Sensor, allowing you to affix the gyro to the buttcap and monitor your game stats on your phone, tablet or laptop, and are on sale now.