Currently you either have a stiffer control racket such as a Pro Staff, or you have a flexible, forgiving, easy to play with, powerful racket such as an Ultra. Wilson has now released a racket that is both - 2 for the price of 1 if you like. It has so much flexibility in the frame, you can actually feel the racket bend when you flex it over your knee. This is something you have never been able to do before… without breaking it. The other main difference is the shape in the throat; there is a strengthening beam that I haven’t seen in Wilson rackets before.
As a Pro Staff man through and through, testing the new Wilson Clash was an interesting experience. I’ve always been someone to use a racket of 97 or 98 square inches, between 305-320 grams with a thin beam.
The new clash comes in at 295g or 310g and at 100 square inches and I would say the closest racket in the range is now the Wilson Ultra 100 Countervail. What struck me first was the striking graphics - although this is not actually going to be the final paintwork, it was still a really cool and on-trend prototype. The Clash colours are a really vibrant red, grey and black with a matching bright red butt cap that will definitely catch your eye. If you would have told me I would be able to control a racket that is 100 square inches with a thick beam, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Everything about the racket feels premium, from the matte finish on the frame to the very well-balanced pick up. Once this racket is in your hand you will struggle to put it down. In comparison to any racket I have ever tried it blows them all out of the water!
I warmed up with my current Wilson Pro Staff 97 Countervail – in my opinion, this is simply the best racket I have ever used. It is really well balanced and also an extremely forgiving racket for a Pro Staff. My racket is strung at 60lbs with Luxilon Big Banger rough in the mains and Wilson Sensation Comfort in the crosses. For me, it is comfortable and offers great bite on the ball.
I then got into my hand the Clash 310g prototype. This was strung with Luxilon 4G soft in the mains (50lbs) and Wilson sensation comfort in the crosses (55lbs). Although the trend across the world is that rackets are being strung at lower tensions (UK average is 50lbs) I have always preferred a stiff string bed leaving the racket with minimum power. The first noticeable difference was the noise the ball made off the racket, it was a popping sound like I timed every single ball unbelievably well.
The racket offered exceptional bite on the ball with any topspin shot taking off on the court which meant my opponent had to be further behind the baseline to return the ball. This racket would be suitable for all types of players. I even found this frame to be more relaxed and just flick the ball back into the court. In comparison to this, a Pro Staff, although it feels exceptional, you have to work very hard to make it work. Balls that you felt would usually fly long just seemed to be a good foot inside the baseline. Often, when playing with a flexible frame, volleying can be difficult as it does not feel as stiff as a thin beam, smaller head sized racket. Despite this, Clash felt like a classic stiff frame when volleying but a flexible power racket from the base line with a huge amount of control. This is taking nothing away from the current rackets on the market as they are exceptional and until this point they were groundbreaking but this is just in a different league.
Someone on next court even commented how the pace of the ball seemed to appear drastically quicker from when we were hitting with the current inline frames. This is a racket that would suit anyone from a junior transitioning into a senior racket or even your trusty senior pro who would usually want to hit with something that is oversized and easy to play with.
Is it going to be used backed on the Pro tour? At present, no. But it is currently being tested by one of the leading females in the game. One thing for sure, I bet your bottom dollar it features very soon on the tour.
What’s the catch? I immediately thought the obvious one would be the price. Absolutely not. With the majority of new frames reaching the £250 mark, Clash comes in at £200 RRP, which, in my opinion, is worth every penny for the way this tennis racket performs. Then next obvious one must be the availability? Again, it’s not going to be limited edition - it’s going to be in line product in all key grip sizes 1-4.
Unfortunately it won’t be landing in stores until February 2019 but I can assure you, it will be worth the wait.
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