Innovation is at the heart of Babolat’s strategy, and string does not deviate from this rule. RPM BLAST ROUGH is the perfect example, with a unique structure, it offers more spin with incomparable comfort.
Since the game of tennis has largely evolved in recent years, player expectations have also been transformed. With this evolution came the need to offer more flexible and, therefore, more powerful monofilament strings, bringing new benefits in terms of comfort and safe ball trajectory. In short, hit harder while keeping the ball in the court. At the center of this challenge is spin.
Attack with Spin
A lethal weapon on modern courts, spin, and its mastery, have become essential for anyone looking for performance, accuracy and the winning shot. “Rafael Nadal has changed the game in this area. He proved that you could hit very hard with lots of spin while having an extremely vibrant and dynamic ball. He broke with the previous generation’s tradition of spin as a defensive maneuver, with impressive height over the net (parabolic trajectory). This was possible thanks to his technique, his Pure Aero racket and his RPM BLAST string. His success at the highest level of competition has allowed the RPM BLAST to win enthusiastic praise. It is undeniably the flagship of our range. However, we had some feedback from the field that led us to believe we could create a string optimized for spin, that was more accessible to players of a less elite technical level. Not everyone has the “slap” of Rafa or Jack Sock! We immediately looked at our options for maximizing the snap back,”explains François-Xavier Quesse, Babolat Global Product Manager.
Snap Back? What’s That?
In fact, what makes it possible to create ball spin is not the roughness of the string as is commonly believed. The quality of the spin is related to the movement of the strings during ball impact and especially after. The moment when they slide back in place is the key: the more fluidity, the more efficient the spin. This is what is known as the “snap back.” Of course, other criteria come into play such as the stringing pattern; the spacing between the strings also has a real influence. Nevertheless, it is the nature of the string that has the most important role.” Once this definition is explained, it’s easier to understand the idea of developing an innovative string that promotes this movement. “This has been our guideline, our area of research…to find the secret to improving the snap back. We analyzed the string properties and especially its structure. Then we started the industrial manufacturing process with the appropriate tests. We unanimously agreed on its name: RPM BLAST ROUGH.
Rough, because the first step was to create a “depression” in the string – not to grip the ball as explained earlier, but to allow maximum slide and minimum friction between the strings at the time of ball impact. In addition to the material (co-polyester) created in our laboratory, the design of the string has been meticulously studied to favor slide thanks to an aerodynamic phenomenon. “Some won’t believe us, but the brand logo is carved on the string. In fact, after thorough studies, it was found that this design really favored the movement, that it was perfectly adapted to our approach.”
Once the RPM BLAST ROUGH prototype was ready, the manufacturing test adventure began. This time, it was the production lines in Corbas near Lyon, France, that were solicited. “Made in France is not a myth. It’s a reality with our strings, and also a pillar of our history. The RPM BLAST ROUGH is no different. After testing, its technical specificities led to some modifications in our manufacturing process but the result soon aligned with our expectations. From the beginning of the idea to the finalization with its specific packaging took us almost two years,” explains Jean-Philippe Onnis, String Development Technician. Once the product was “finished,” it was necessary for it to be “validated” by the players. This is the famous test period of the RPM BLAST ROUGH on courts all over the world.
A Global Reach: 20,000 samples worldwide
In order to have precise quantitative and qualitative feedback, a large majority of ambassadors, players and teaching pros were involved: “More than 20,000 samples were sent. Our goal was to reach a large community of players, and be able to rely on these experiences to confirm our technical choices. And the sensations we wanted to offer with the string were quickly validated. The RPM BLAST ROUGH makes it possible to create a lot of spin while having power, comfort and a safe ball trajectory. The three new criteria of this new string were thus respected,” confirms François-Xavier Quesse. Respected and approved criteria, as well as a few marketing choices, we felt confident with the three colors we defined. “The idea is that the RPM BLAST ROUGH is recognizable. The RPM BLAST is well branded with its black color. Along with this tint, which is the well-preserved RPM BLAST trademark, we have launched two flashy colors, red and yellow. Red goes perfectly with the Pure Strike, while the yellow forms a shocking duo on a Pure Aero,” continues François-Xavier.
Launched in February, the RPM BLAST ROUGH should quickly reach a prominent place among the RPM family to the delight of the “spinners.” “Strings are the performance engine on the court. Too often, it is an almost default choice. The RPM BLAST ROUGH contradicts this idea by being perfectly adapted to a certain style of players. Powerful players bring extra spin to more easily keep the ball on the court. The RPM BLAST ROUGH was designed with this in mind.” This view also offers an even more complete range to promote efficiency on the court while not compromising the enjoyment: “Everyone dreams of this unprecedented feeling of a pure shot, with maximum sensations and spin to hinder his opponent,“ concludes François-Xavier Quesse. The RPM BLAST ROUGH is therefore the assurance of being able to easily put spin on the ball, with efficiency and precision. All that’s left is to try it!