Testing Nick Kyrgios Racquet Setup – Yonex Xi 98 Review

by Jonas Eriksson
Testing Nick Kyrgios racquet setup

Nick Kyrgios creates headlines worldwide for his fantastic tennis talent but also sometimes questionable behavior. He has become a bad boy of tennis and has created a hate/love relationship with tennis fans. I have been testing Nick Kyrgios racquet setup, and here are my thoughts.

Nick Kyrgios Racquet Setup

Nick Kyrgios is a person that is difficult to wrap your head around. What goes on in his mind during a match or a practice session is only something he can know. But when he is set on playing good tennis, he can beat almost anyone. He has beaten the best players in the world multiple times but also put up performances where looks completely disinterested. Maybe this is partly why he remains interesting to follow.

For us tennis nerds, the kind of power he generates is mind-boggling. Yes, most of it is due to his ultra-fast arm action, which involves lots of spin and pace and is far from a traditional tennis forehand. Most of the power comes from his technique, but the racquet setup sure plays a role as well so I simply had to test it.

The specs

Nick Kyrgios
(pic from Tennis World USA)

Kyrgios is using a Yonex Xi 98 that he strings with a non-commercially available Yonex Poly Tour Pro-style string (it is similar, but softer) at 55 lbs. His specs are 343 grams strung with a Yonex leather grip. I am not sure about the balance of his racquet, but when I weighted mine up to the same specs in weight by adding a Yonex leather grip, 4 grams at 10 and 2, and an over grip. I think it was pretty much as close as you could come Kyrgios actual racquet without spending the 3000+ USD it sold for on a racquet forum.

On the court, the racquet sure played with lots of power. The Xi 98 is definitely the crispest Ezone I’ve tried – the ball explodes of the string bed similar to a Pure Drive. This resulted in me thumping some balls for winners, but also having a hard time finding my range as I prefer more control-oriented racquets. Still, it was fun to hit with all this power and in the setup, I tested I sure did not feel that the racquet was neither sluggish nor unstable.

Testing Nick Kyrgios Racquet Setup

Yonex Ezone Xi 98

The specs of the Yonex Ezone Xi 98:
Testing Nick Kyrgios Racquet Setup - Inspired by the man himself

I tried to channel my inner Kyrgios during this play-test and sometimes it went great and other times I just went too crazy and played stupid tennis. The issue with being creative on the court is that it works at times and other times inconsistency suffers, especially if you don’t have even 10% of the talent of Nick Kyrgios. I tend to play fun tennis because that is what I believe in and like, but I realize it is not good for winning matches.

Regarding the Yonex Xi 98 I think it is a good racquet, powerful and stable, but for me, the power is simply too much. The stiffness is not advisable for sensitive elbows and wrists, but I did not feel any soreness after a session, despite sensing the stiffness while hitting. If you want to use this racquet, I would go for a slightly softer string setup.

I really enjoyed the power on serves, the stability on volleys and the slightly lower launch angle than for example a Yonex VCORE 98, but I personally prefer the Yonex DR 98 or Ai 98 as they have a more comfortable response.

On another note, it will be interesting to see how Kyrgios follows up his recent string of good results (winning the Acapulco ATP 500) and if he can find a more stable place in his mind to play more consistent tennis.

This is what the Tennisnerd followers on Instagram think about Nick Kyrgios:

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Kevin March 9, 2019 - 00:50

Did you plan to try Thiem’s Pure Strike setup in the near future?

Tennisnerd March 13, 2019 - 12:39

Hi Kevin,
Yes, that would be very nice, however, he has just changed his string setup and I am not sure to what exactly. Will try to find out and create review!

ed seymour March 12, 2019 - 15:12

Hi Jonas –
Unfortunately I dont have a strong arm and have a Prokennex kinetic 100 squ. inch 16×20 at 10.4 ozs racquet and wondered how I can improve the string set-up to assist me returning some heavier or topspin serves?
I enjoyed your racquet build-up but is there an equivalent in choosing the best string ?


Tennisnerd March 13, 2019 - 12:35

Hi Ed,
Not sure the string will help you a lot in case you are struggling with the weight of the ball (returning heavy serves for example). If you struggle with power, string lower, for example, a spin-friendly poly at 22 kg/50 lbs. It depends on what happens when you return. If your balls are flying from the racquet and you struggle with control, I would string tighter. If they land short, I would string looser. In general, the lighter racquet you have the more important it will be that you meet the ball early and in front because the stability is not going to help a whole lot and it will twist in your arm more easily. So make sure to be really ready and try to read the serve and be early on your returns.

Good luck / Jonas

Tim N March 17, 2019 - 08:20

how do you know he has lead tape at 10 and 2? everything i’ve read has said he actually uses stock with just the leather grip. also its interesting that it isn’t prostock.

Tennisnerd March 18, 2019 - 16:04

The information is from a guy who owns his racquet, but I have heard he might have changed it to 12 o’clock in recent times. I am pretty sure he doesn’t use it stock.

Jan March 23, 2019 - 20:42

Is this racquet similar to any newer Ezone racquet?
Thank you,

Tennisnerd March 26, 2019 - 08:39

Yeah, it is similar to all the Ezone 98s, but just crisper and rawer feedback. A DR 98 should be a good option if you want a similar frame, but a bit nicer feel.

Rel March 25, 2019 - 15:08

In a recent Twitch live stream he was asked if he used any lead tape, can’t remember the exact response but he mentioned he used to use tape in the head but since he got stronger he took the tape away and relies on racket head speed to generate power.

Seems like it’s a stock racket with a leather grip.

Tennisnerd March 26, 2019 - 08:34

Thanks for sharing, will check it out.

Rel March 25, 2019 - 15:10

Found the thread with the clip, not sure if he’s joking about the lead tape but judge for yourself:

Tennisnerd March 26, 2019 - 08:49

Either he is joking or doesn’t know what he is talking about. Lead tape in the hoop requires more power or technique to swing since the racquet is heavier. So if he built up muscle, he should be fine to swing a racquet with lead tape fast too. His comment makes little sense to me.

josiah March 4, 2020 - 15:21

I have been looking at this year 2020 AO open of his racquet, seems like he doesn’t have any lead tape on his hoop… maybe he was serious about not using it now.

Ross August 4, 2020 - 03:35

Where did you get the Yonex leather grip? I can only find synthetic leather grips from Yonex.

Tennisnerd August 4, 2020 - 08:52

It was on a used racquet I bought, I think they only make them for the pros…

Fritz November 30, 2020 - 11:15

Ezone Xi 98 is extremelly confortable, in my humble opinion: it does almost everything pretty well.

Leandro August 9, 2021 - 17:38

I saw that the stiffness rating here is 66, but I saw that in racketlogger.com the stiffness of this raquet is 63.

wich one is the real one?


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