Wilson Blade 98 V7 18 x 20 Racket Review
Having tested the Blade 98 V7 16 x 19 last week, it was only right that we got the Wilson Blade 98 V7 18 x 20 out this week to put it through its paces.
As a devout 18 x 20 string pattern fan this was the racket from the new Blade line that I was most excited for and without giving everything away, I wasn’t disappointed!
The Wilson Blades are one of the most iconic racket lines out there.
Built to meet the needs of a wide variety of players and with an emphasis on control that encourages players to develop their skills, these sticks have been repped by a number of top players on tour.
At the time of writing, there are 4 guys using this racket in the world’s top 25, with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov, David Goffin, and Milos Raonic as well as WTA world number 7 Kiki Bertens all “officially” repping the Blade 98 V7 18 x 20.
Of course, the pros don’t necessarily use the rackets we’re told they do but this goes a little way to showing the popularity of these sticks.
The V7s replace Wilson’s last technological update, Countervail and take another step forward in tennis manufacturer’s efforts to improve comfort levels.
Personally, I really liked the Countervail technology, particularly the Blade 98 CV, but there were quite a few people who weren’t fans.
The big complaint with the Blade 98 CVs was that it lacked feel.
The CV did a good job of absorbing shocks and making the racket more comfortable but at the same time, it gave the racket quite a deadened feel.
I may be strange, but I enjoy a deadened feel from my rackets so it wasn’t a problem but obviously for some people it was.
When we did the playtest on the new Wilson Blade 98 V7 16 x 19 we certainly found that the feel was much improved so we were expecting the same thing from the 18 x 20.
The reason for the improved feel is the new FeelFlex technology that the V7 rackets have.
This technology brings the Blade racket in line with the recent new range Wilson recently brought out, Wilson Clash.
Basically, these rackets are designed to flex in certain directions to give you comfort and feel, but stay stable in other directions to give you power, spin, and control.
We found the technology worked well in the Clash rackets, but they didn’t quite hit the nail on the head in terms of performance.
However, we know the Blade 98s have top-level performance so we were interested to see how the technology would change this new Wilson Blade 98 V7 18 x 20.
To keep everything the same as with the 16 x 19 test, we strung the Wilson Blade 98 V7 18 x 20 with Babolat RPM Blast at 52lbs.
This durable polyester string should ensure even more control from this racket and great access to spin!
I gave the old Wilson Blade 98 CV 18 x 20 a great score of 9 out of 10 overall, so the question was, would the V7 be able to beat that?
9.5out of 10
I simply love the way this racket plays. It’s not too heavy, it’s not too light, and it allows you to rip through the ball with huge racket head speed whilst giving you the control to keep the ball in the court.
Lots of bigger hitters go for heavy rackets, but I do think the Blade 98 V7 18 x 20 is one that they might look at despite it weighing 305g.
It’s got good stability which leads to good control and the power levels are just about right.
So, the Blade 98 is great for big hitters and advanced players, but how does it work for more intermediate players?
The answer is, very well.
The nature of the 18 x 20 string pattern rackets means that you don’t get as much easy power and spin, but if you enjoy rackets that play that way then the Blade 98 V7 offers a lot.
The key thing with this stick is racket head speed.
You’ve got to be able to swing through fast to create the power and spin, and the racket encourages you to do this and rewards you for it.
In this way, it’s very similar to the Babolat Pure Strike that I use.
This meant that I was able to settle into my rhythm extremely quickly with the Blade 98 and start playing some really good tennis.
The thing I love about these rackets it that they accentuate my strength on the forehand side, but they don’t take away on my weaker backhand side.
They simply allow you to swing through as fast as you can on both wings and give you the confidence that the ball is going to drop into the court.
If you struggle with swing speed and creating power and spin then you’ll probably be better suited to the 16 x 19 version of this racket, but if you love to swing for the hills then this is the racket for you.
The Wilson Blade 98 V7 18 x 20 has comfort, control, and stability in spades, ideal for the big hitter who doesn’t want a racket that’s super heavy.
We gave this stick an excellent 9.5 out of 10 for groundstrokes.
8.5out of 10
This is an area where I generally find the 18 x 20 string pattern rackets perform better than the 16 x 19 patterns.
That’s because there is less movement in the strings on contact with the ball and you get a more solid feel.
When the ball is coming at you quickly at the net you want all that solidity to absorb the power and control the ball back in the opposite direction.
The Wilson Blade 98 V7 18 x 20 does this very well and does everything you would want from a 305g racket.
Whether you’re playing singles or doubles, you certainly shouldn’t have any worries at the net with the new Blade.
Once again, it is extremely comfortable to play with and absorbs the impact nicely but you don’t seem to lose feel like many people felt happened with the Blade 98 Countervail.
You don’t get quite the pop you do with the 16 x 19 string pattern which makes it a little bit harder to inject pace into easy put aways but you win all that back when you’re trying to control difficult volleys.
The Blade 98 V7 allows you to control the power on difficult volleys and put the ball exactly where you want it.
This was another very good performance for the Blade 98 V7 and it deserved its 8.5 score on the volleys.
8.5out of 10
The serve is a shot where I really appreciate the 305g weight of the Blade 98 V7.
On groundstrokes and volleys I could play with a much heavier racket, but the serve is where I really suffer.
Luckily, there are rackets like this one that give you many of the benefits of a heavier racket plus the added maneuverability of a lighter racket.
It’s easy to get this racket moving quickly through the swing and if you can generate the racket head speed then you will be rewarded with power, spin, and control.
This was certainly the case for me as I felt like I had the ball on a string throughout the serve part of this playtest.
When my serve starts going well everything else seems to fall into place, so that’s always something that makes me very happy!
I particularly enjoyed hitting second serves with this racket as the closed string pattern gave me a ton of control to hit through the ball with confidence.
You’ve got to be confident in your racket on the second serve and keep the racket head speed up and I found the Blade 98 V7 helped me a lot with this.
The only negative I could find on the serve and probably throughout the entire playtest is that it would be difficult to get a lot out of this racket as a beginner.
It’s just a little bit too control-oriented which makes it hard to get power and spin from less developed strokes.
For this reason, I wouldn’t suggest this racket for beginners, but for everyone else, it is a very good stick.
The good scores kept on coming for the Wilson Blade 98 V7 18 x 20 as we gave it an 8.5 out of 10 for the serve.
9out of 10
Overall, I think this is another step forward for the Wilson Blade rackets.
For me, the technology works and makes what was a very comfortable racket slightly more comfortable, but most importantly, without taking away from the feel of the racket.
The players that are likely to get the most out of these rackets are those players with full swings who are looking for a racket that combines maneuverability with control to allow you to hit with some serious power and spin.
This probably does count it out as a beginner racket because if your strokes aren’t fully developed, it can be a bit of a struggle to create power.
However, for more advanced players, the Blade 98 V7 is a great racket with very good performance.
I found that I got the best performance on groundstrokes, where the Blade was well balanced and gave me complete control of the ball, but it wasn’t far behind when it came to volleys.
It really is an allround racket and you won’t find it wanting on any shot.
This was true on the serve as well, where I put in an excellent serving display.
The 18 x 20 doesn’t have the same pop and easy power of the 16 x 19 on the serve, but as long as you’re used to that then it’s not a problem.
In the place of the power you get some extra control which means you can attack the ball a little bit more and get power that way.
All in all, this is an excellent racket that is going to suit a lot of people.
It ticks a lot of boxes and for players that enjoy control from their racket is a must try.
We gave the Wilson Blade 98 V7 18 x 20 a 9 out of 10.
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