Babolat Pure Drive

Iconic Rackets: The Babolat Pure Drive – The perfect weapon for club players and pros

Ross Batten, the owner of the online tennis business, continues a mini series identifying some of the sport’s most celebrated rackets. This time, it’s the Babolat Pure Drive.

The Babolat Pure Drive was originally released in 1994. Babolat had previously been best known for their VS range of strings, but after the launch of the Pure Drive the French company quickly became one of the world’s leading racket manufacturers.

Pierre Babolat, who had taken over the running of the historic family business in 1985, invented the Pure Drive to accommodate new playing styles that were emerging. It was one of the first rackets with a 100 square-inch head and weighing 300 grams. Carlos Moya put the new racket on the map in 1998 by winning the French Open with it and subsequentially becoming world No 1. Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick and the Bryan brothers also joined the Pure Drive bandwagon.

Eric Babolat, the company’s current CEO, gives Rafael Nadal much of the credit for the brand’s worldwide popularity. Although Nadal is associated more with the Pure Aero racket, it was the Pure Drive that began his love affair with Babolat. Throughout his junior career Nadal used a Soft Drive, which has the same mould as the original Pure Drive but weighs only 270 grams.

Nadal then switched to a Pure Drive Swirly, which he used when he first played on the professional tour in 2003. At 16 he burst through the qualifying draw at Hamburg before beating Moya, who was world No 4 at the time. The Pure Drive Swirly is often regarded as one of the best versions of the Pure Drive and is still coveted by collectors for its soft feel and easy power.

There have been 10 versions of the Pure Drive. The latest, which was released in 2021, still features the 100 square-inch head, weighs 300 grams and has an open 16 x 19 string pattern. However, the racket has been updated with a wide range of new technology.

The big change from the original version is the more explosive power you get from the frame. This is achieved by a higher stiffness rating (RA) through the addition of “High Torsional Rigidity” (HTR), which is a new lay-up composition in the hoop of the racket for increased rigidity. Comfort levels are retained by the addition of SMAC technology, the cutting-edge vibration filtration system integrated in the lay-up composition. There have been modern iterations of the Pure Drive with different weight options, such as the Team, Lite and Super Lite models, to improve its accessibility to the whole playing market.

ALSO READ: Babolat Pure Drive Tour (2021) review

Although each iteration plays slightly differently, Babolat have never deviated too much from the winning formula which has made the Pure Drive the best-selling racket in history. The current version is one of the most used rackets on the WTA and ATP tours.

In the end the main reason why the Pure Drive is the best-selling frame of all time is not its history or its associations with particular players.  It comes down to the fact that the racket is so easy to pick up and play with. Both club players and professionals can use the racket with ease and enjoy its easy power and spin capabilities. It is perfect for modern baseline tennis.


1994 Pure Drive Launched
2001 Pure Drive Swirly
2003 Pure Drive Team
2006 Pure Drive Cortex
2009 Pure Drive GT (Graphite Tungsten)
2012 Pure Drive Cortex Active
2015 7th generation Pure Drive
2018 8th generation Pure Drive
2019 9th generation Pure Drive
2021 10th generation Pure Drive is the UK’s fastest growing dedicated tennis retailer. Tennishead readers receive an exclusive five per cent discount on all purchases from when using this coupon code: TENNISHEAD5

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.