Wilson Blade v8 (16×19) review
The Wilson Blade is considered one of the most popular rackets from this leading American brand so when Tennishead were offered the chance to play test and review the latest version we jumped at the chance.
This 8th version of the Blade was released in 2021 with a full six different racket options in the range from the 104 inch head of the Blade 104 down to the version we tested, the Blade 98 with the 16×19 stringing pattern.
The Blade is obviously targeted at a more advanced player and Wilson make it clear that the best results will come in the hands of quality ball strikers.
“This racket felt solid from the baseline and even though it’s stiff it didn’t feel as stiff as I’d expected and nicer than the previous version of this Blade”
The most notable change for this 8th edition of the Blade is the introduction of the ‘FORTYFIVE’ material in the frame which aims to deliver ‘both flexibility and stability without compromise through the swing’. Top of the range Wilson rackets have always erred towards the stiff side of the scale so this new technology is Wilson’s nod towards that player feedback.
Wilson also claim that the sweet-spot is enlarged by a new grommet construction and a tapered grip has been installed to make the racket more comfortable for two handed backhand players.
Also the carbon fibre in the handle has been extended all the way down to the racket butt in an effort to deliver ‘enhanced torsion stability’.
Watch as our experienced testers try out the Wilson Blade v8 (16×19)
The play test
Testing rackets can be down to personal opinion so it’s important to remember that not every racket is right for every player and one person’s discomfort can equally be another’s joy. This is why we try to test rackets with a variety of players and for the Wilson Blade v8 (16×19) we have three accomplished testers with very differing game styles.
Our Tennishead play testers for this review are:
Julian – Who is an out and out hacker (in other words he never misses!), has been playing for 45 years and currently plays with the Babolat Pure Drive (an older version).
Sue – A player who sees herself as a ‘baseline grinder with volleying aspirations’, has been playing tennis for 30 years and currently uses a Mantis 300 racket.
Austin – Who ‘likes to win the point at the net’, has been playing for 15 years and currently plays with the Babolat Pure Drive 2020.
Austin: “This racket felt solid from the baseline and even though it’s stiff it didn’t feel as stiff as I’d expected and nicer than the previous version of this Blade.”
Julian: “I felt in control of my groundstrokes with this racket but, as with all Wilsons, if you hit the ball in the centre of the sweet-spot you gain about 10% power which is a feeling you need to get used to if you haven’t played with a Wilson before.”
Sue: “Normally I find Wilsons quite stiff as with this Blade but when I hit the ball out of the centre the shot felt good with lots of spin and fizz.”
Volleys and smashes
Austin: “The Blade felt nice at the net. Because it’s quite stiff I wasn’t overhitting and was getting good depth with my volleys especially when my timing was right and I hit the ball out of the centre of the string bed. The power for smashes was slightly harder to create but when I managed this it generated a good smash.”
Julian: “I’m normally a consistent volleyer but with this Blade you need to get the ball out of the centre of the racket. If you can achieve this then the ball goes exactly where you want it to go. With smashes it’s perfect if you can find the middle of the strings but if you don’t find the middle then the ball dies a little on smashes. You need to have tidy technique to get a proper smash.”
Sue: “The Blade feels heavy in my hand but actually that lead to a solid feel on the volleys and a crisp shot. On smashes the weight of the racket felt heavy as I was preparing for the smash and a little bit of an effort but once I hit the ball it was ok.”
Austin: “I had to work really hard with my legs and knees to generate power on my serves with the Blade. My kick serve felt nice but because of the tighter string pattern it wasn’t as easy to create the spin.”
Julian: “This Blade helped me generate power however I’d need to play with it for a while to help me feel how to get my spin serve going well. At the start the ball comes off slightly flat until you learn to let go as you get used to it.”
Sue: “I don’t generate much spin with my serve normally but for power this Blade felt the same as I usually achieve on my flat serve.”
Would this Wilson suit similar styles of player as yourself?
Austin, who likes to win the point at the net: “I think this Blade would suit my style of player in some ways especially the volleys as I could hit my spots but maybe on groundstrokes not so much as I was struggling to create power. But if I was working hard on my groundstrokes I think this racket could suit my style.”
Julian is a hacker and never misses: “Yes this does suit my style as I can get the control I need but then if I can hit the centre of the strings this Blade gives me an added 10% power. So yes I can play with this quite well (once I got used to it).”
Sue who is a baseline grinder with volleying aspirations: “For someone my age it felt quite heavy in my hand so I think the Blade would suit my style of play but maybe I need something that felt a little softer in my hands.”
What are your thoughts on the design and style of this racket?
Austin: “I really like the new colour scheme which is much nicer than the old Blade. The way it changes colour in the light is really nice and I’m a big fan.”
Julian: “Two tone! Mods are back! A top end Wilson racket with this design, I think it looks quite smart.”
Sue: “It’s a bit dull. It doesn’t make me feel joyful!”
Is $229/£245 a fair price for this Wilson?
Austin: “I’d be happy to pay that price as it’s a top of the range racket.”
Julian: “That’s a fair price for a top end Wilson.”
Sue: “For a top racket it’s a fair price as it compares well with others.”
For a detailed explanation of each racket measurement criteria below have a read of our guide.
Wilson Blade v8 (16×19)
R.R.P. = $229/£245 at Wilson.com
Head size = 98 sq in
Weight = 305g
String pattern = 16/19
Length = 27 inches
In conclusion then..
The most obvious feedback on this new Blade is the quality of shot it generates when in the hands of a good ball striker. All our testers were really happy with the results off the ground and in the air when they struck the ball sweetly. This might seem an obvious comment but other rackets will substitute this to deliver a better strike when the ball is hit off centre, but not the Blade.
The pay off is that the player needs to be confident of middling the ball most of the time unless they are very strong and can handle a stiff racket that doesn’t offer as much help when the strike is off centre. This was highlighted by our female tester Sue who felt the racket might just be a bit too much hard work for her. However, Wilson do offer a Blade v8 98S which weighs 295 grams, has an 18×16 string pattern and may better suit a player like Sue.
Also take note that both the attacking tester (Austin) and the more defensive minded tester (Julian) felt that they could play their differing game styles effectively with this racket.
Buy this racket…
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