The hype around the Wilson Clash continues. The feedback around the Clash and the Clash Tour has been very good, but some players are looking for more control. That is why the Clash 98 racquet review is highly anticipated. Does it deliver the goods?
As you, loyal readers of Tennisnerd, already know, I really like both the Clash and the Clash Tour. For a while, I was wondering if I should transition to the Tour, but in the end, I just feel more comfortable with the control of smaller head sizes. That is why I was excited to test the slightly smaller 98 sq inch head size version in this Wilson Clash 98 Racquet Review.
So what is different between the Clash Tour and the Clash 98? Besides the smaller head size, the beam is slightly thinner at 24 mm instead of 24,5. The weight is the same and the balance is pretty much the same too. So the Clash 98 will feel close, but those two inches make a difference. How? Well, the Clash Tour is more stable despite having the same weight. You get a bit more control on flatter shots with the 98 and it does not break strings as fast, but the power and spin levels are better with the Tour.
Wilson Clash 98 Racquet Review – Specs
As you can see, the specs of the Wilson Clash 98 is not far from the Clash Tour. The thing with a smaller head size though is that it needs more weight to play stable. These are scientific truths of tennis that you can find out in the great book “The Physics and Technology of Tennis” (click for Amazon link). If you want to know more about the science of tennis, this is the book to read.
This is one thing that was quite quickly evident with the Clash 98, is that the smaller head size makes it slightly less stable and less forgiving on off-center hits. This is something I really appreciate about the Wilson Clash (Amazon link) and the Wilson Clash Tour (link to my review), the size of the sweet spot feels very generous. The Clash 98 definitely requires more from the player in terms of generating power and spin on your shots, which is logical.
Wilson Clash 98 Unstrung specs:
Head size: 98 sq inches / 632 cm2
Weight: 310 grams / 10.9 ounces
Balance: 12 pts HL / 30,6 cm
Length: 27 inches / 68.6 cm
Beam width: 24,5 mm
String pattern: 16×19
Wilson Clash 98 Technologies:
Bends the racket in horizontal and vertical directions so players can swing freely and powerfully while still controlling the ball.
Maintains high-performing stability while also enhancing the flexibility of the racket.
Wilson Clash 98 Racquet Review – How does it play?
I really loved the response from the Clash Tour, it just felt effortless to play and it was easy to get good depth on your shots. The Clash 98 requires more from the user and did not feel as stable as its sibling. The plush feel is still there, but it is less pronounced in a smaller string bed. One of the main criticisms with the Clash Tour was that it breaks strings quickly and this is definitely improved with the Clash 98. But it comes at the cost of less spin (not by much) and power, which I am not sure is a trade-off I am willing to take.
Don’t get me wrong. The Clash 98 is a good racquet. A competent performer. Offers good control, nice feel and very good comfort. I just feel it lacks the personality of the Clash Tour and risks getting lost in the jungle of many other good 98 sq inch racquets. I missed the free power and spin I got with the Clash Tour and although I did get more confidence to go for my winners, it wasn’t as precise as some of the tighter pattern racquets I use and play my best tennis with.
To get some more stability, I added 4 grams of lead tape at 10 and 2 and counter-weighted underneath the grip and it did respond quite well to that. No matter if I used lead tape or not, I did feel that it offered a bit more pop on the serves thanks to moving faster through the air. But it did not feel as precise as a Blade 98 or Ultra Tour 97 and not as powerful as the Clash, so it ends up in the middle.
Wilson Clash 98 Racquet Review – Pros and cons
I strung up the Clash 98 with HEAD Hawk Touch (my review) and Kirschbaum Max Power (Amazon). The Clash performed similarly with both setups, so it does not strike me as a particularly string-sensitive racquet. I tested the racquet in stock form and with lead tape at 10 and 2 to get the weight up to 340 grams and 31,8 cm balance which felt closer to my taste in racquets. I liked it better with some weight, but I still could not find that connection to the racquet that I felt with the Tour. So let’s look at some pros and cons compared to its siblings.
+ Spin-friendly, but does not break strings as fast as the Tour.
+ Faster through the air, which helped me hit bigger serves
+ Better control than the Tour and more suitable for flatter hitters.
– Not as easy to get free power or spin as the Tour
– Not as stable as I would have liked on off-center shots
– Not as precise as a Blade or an Ultra Tour
The Wilson Clash 98 is definitely a good racquet, it offers good control, spin and a comfortable response. If you like the Clash, but feel it is a bit too powerful or lack a bit of precision, this is definitely something you must try. I personally prefer the response of the Clash Tour, but this is, of course, a matter of taste.
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Wilson Clash 98 Racquet Review – Video review
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