Babolat tennis racquets have exploded over the last few years in popularity. Thanks to top pros using them in important matches, they’ve had plenty of free advertisement along the way. Guys like Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick are just a few responsible for making them racquet leaders in 2022.
Perhaps the two most popular options are the Babolat Pure Aero and Babolat Pure Drive. Just looking at the head size, string pattern, and weight, these racquets seem the same. They have a different color and design, but are there any differences? Once used in play, the differences start to come out.
Below is a full comparison between the two, categorized by the different attributes a typical racquet brings to the table. While there might not be a definitive right or wrong answer since every tennis player is different, this allows shoppers to make smarter decisions when buying for the first time.
Groundstrokes: Pure Aero
Both racquets do a pretty good job with groundstrokes, but the Aero line is just a little bit more user-friendly. People who love to play on the baseline can get a great combination of power and spin. There’s a pretty big sweet spot so that the ball is going in the right direction in any type of rally.
The Drive can be a little more challenging to keep the ball in when hitting all out. Controllable power on groundstrokes doesn’t seem to be there quite as much. Once players get used to either racquet, they are easier to control on the ground. Still, look for the Pure Aero to have a little less of a learning curve.
Players won’t notice much of a difference between these two racquets when it comes to serving. Both provide a good amount of free power, and the size of the two racquets makes them pretty similar. Whether a person wants to hit a flat, hard serve, or one that is kicking with great action, both racquets do a great job with that.
Generous sweet spots matter when serving more than people might think. The lightweight feel of both racquets also makes it easy to snap the wrist and swing hard through the serve.
Returns: Pure Drive
Hitting returns is a little bit easier with the Pure Drive. It seems like the average player will be able to be a bit more aggressive with the returns, as it’s easy to hit a sweet spot and get some power behind shots.
The control on returns is just slightly below the Pure Drive level with the Pure Aero. Neither of these racquets is particularly known for returning balls well compared to the competition, but the Pure Drive will provide a little bit more assistance. That not only goes for power, but finesse and slices as well.
There isn’t too much difference in control between the Pure Aero and the Pure Drive. The bad thing for players is that this is one category that both don’t do particularly well in. If control is a huge priority, looking in another direction for a different company might be the better option.
The reason why control is lacking a bit is that they both come with open string patterns that are built for power and spin. It’s hard to harness a ton of control with that racquet as well. With that said, there are some ways to help out with control of the racquet. Messing around with string and string tension will make it a little bit easier.
Comfort: Pure Aero
The Pure Aero is a little bit more comfortable in the hands of an average player. There isn’t much difference, but it feels a little bit softer on impact. This goes for all types of shots, and players feel like it’s a big improvement over the previous iteration.
That change was made to ensure that their racquets are more comfortable than ever before. The Pure Aero has additional carbon inside of the racquet that helps out with the overall smoothness and fluidity of swings. Even on mishits, the racquets are going to feel decently well.
Stability: Pure Drive
There’s a pretty big gap between the stability of the Pure Drive compared to the Pure Aero. If players feel like they need a stable racquet with all types of shots, the Pure Drive is the way to go. There’s a little bit too much flex in the Pure Aero for people to feel like they have a stable racquet in their hands at all times.
Stability might not matter to everyone, especially since the Pure Aero provides enough of it to help out the average player. Some will really rely on that extra bit of stability at all times.
Spin: Babolat Pure Aero
The Babolat Pure Aero is arguably the most spin-friendly racquet on the market right now. It makes sense since it is endorsed by Rafael Nadal. The positioning of the strings helps to generate spin even for those who don’t normally hit with a ton.
A change to the most recent Babolat Pure Aero has helped out with spin even more. The strings get to move around a little bit, providing spin without having to sacrifice much of anything else. Putting in the right string type also helps out with spin.
The Babolat Pure Strike is still pretty good with spin, and it’s above average compared to most of the other performance racquets on the market. It’s just hard to compete with the Pure Aero and its spin.
Power: Babolat Pure Drive
The Babolat Pure Drive offers a little bit more free power for the average player. They will notice a difference but everything else needs to be relatively the same.
The slight geometry changes is the main reason why the Pure Drive has more power. Players who hit a flatter ball will tend to like this racquet over the Pure Aero because of it. Put in the right strings, and this can be one of the most powerful racquets on the market.
A very generous sweet spot for the Babolat Pure Drive allows people to take full cuts at the ball. It’s a 100 in.² racquet that has grown the sweet spot compared to previous generations so that players take bigger swings and still feel rewarded.
The racquets might not play the same with volleys, but it’s hard to really pick a winner between the two. The Pure Drive seems a little bit less comfortable because of the way the ball comes off of the string bed, but some like that feedback so they have a better idea on where they are putting the ball. The Pure Aero will feel better on a player’s arm.
It should be clear by now that both of these racquets offer something slightly different to the average player. Both have made improvements compared to previous releases, but players gravitate towards one or the other based on playstyle.
All being said, the Babolat Pure Drive is probably the more well-rounded racquet that will fit more playing styles. People aren’t going to benefit from the Pure Aero unless they already hit with a decent amount of spin. If players hit a rather flat ball, they aren’t going to see the benefits that they might think.
That’s not to say that the Pure Aero is a bad racquet by any means. It feels a bit more comfortable on the arm with different shots. It’s also a bit of a natural off the ground for people trying it out.
Make sure to give both a try and see how they play in real settings. This is the best way to get a more comfortable idea of the final decision. Both racquets consistently receive outstanding ratings, so the company is doing something right with the releases. It is all about how the racquet matches up with a player’s style.