Our guest contributor Colan Surratt is back. This time he tests Naomi Osaka's string. Here's his Yonex PolyTour Strike Blue review.
Yonex PolyTour Strike Blue Review (1.25 gauge)
by Colan Surratt
Hey, y'all! I'm a big fan of Naomi Osaka and of course, her gear. Check out what racquet Naomi Osaka uses here (-TN) and her string setup here. Seeing that she is using the new blue color of Yonex PolyTour Strike, I wanted to give it a shot when I had the chance! I remember liking the gray and black versions when I tested them a few years ago, so I was looking forward to this test.
I usually play with Solinco Confidential 16L, ALU Power 125, or Head Lynx Tour 17 between 48 and 50 pounds in my 16×19 v8 Blades that I've been using lately – I wrote a piece on the new Ezone 98, but sadly I had some arm issues and went back to the Blade. Accordingly, I strung up PTS Blue 125 at 48 pounds.
It's all about control
Generally, I'm not too fond of the feel of Yonex strings: PolyTour Pro and Spin were horrible for me, but I was pleasantly surprised here. It was firm and controlled right off the stringer but not uncomfortable or without some feel. If you can hit the center of the strings, it's plush and responsive for a controlled polyester string.
I quickly dialed in my strokes and was finding targets with ease. I did feel a slight lack of spin right away, but as the string broke in, I started accessing more than enough bite.
The feel is nice, but the name of the game is CONTROL here with this string. Off the ground, It lets you swing big and hit your targets with ease. I was able to loop rally balls deep and flatten out approaches with ease.
I felt confident knowing I could swing out and keep the ball in on shorter balls. Before breakage at about the 3-hour mark, I might spray a ball or randomly miss a target. There's enough spin to manipulate the ball if you know what you're doing. I didn't get oodles of extra rotation like some of the stiff, shaped strings can provide, but it was there. I can see how a player like Naomi Osaka or Denis Shapovalov grooves with this string on the pro tour – it's the perfect complement for their big-swinging baseline games.
Stroke by Stroke
At the net, this string is pretty no-nonsense. It's got enough feel for touch shots and just enough cushion to block back balls with more pace comfortably. It's not natural gut, but for a poly, it gets the job done without complaint, and that's all I ever really ask from a polyester at the net
I did notice a lack of spin on serve right away, but I adjusted quickly as the test wore on. No complaints here. Those who supply their own pace and spin on the serve will be rewarded with good targeting and enough pop. The *CRACK* off of a flat serve is really pleasing too!
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this string. It has no frills, but it doesn't do anything poorly either. It reminds me of a more controlled (less powerful) ALU Power or a more comfortable version of Luxilon Original. There's good bite, low power, supple feel in the sweetspot, and plenty of spin for a round string. I experienced no issues with comfort at
my usual tension, either. It held its playing characteristics well until near breakage, and I wouldn't hesitate to use it again!
Spin: 8/10 (great for a round poly)
Feel: 8/10 (great for a poly)
Playability duration/tension maintenance: 9/10
Comfort: 8/10 (relative to other polys, doesn't mean it won't aggravate any chronic arm issues…stick with multi or gut there)
PolyTour Strike is what PolyTour Pro should play like
It's nice to try a string from Yonex and actually like it. Every time somebody sings the praises of PolyTour Pro, I'm confused. But the way they talk about it (spinny, great feel, power, and control, durable) is how I experience PolyTour Strike. Yonex's flagship strings all have a presence on the pro tour, so there is obviously something good about their products. Even though I don't love them all, it was nice to finally find one that I could use without complaint!
Tension(s) Used for Playtest: 48 lbs
Regular String Set up & Tension: Head Lynx Tour 125 at 48#, Luxilon ALU 125 at 50#, and Confidential 125 at 48# have all been in my racquet lately – I can play all of these comfortably with no major complaints.
Racquet Used for Test: Wilson Blade 98 16×19 v8
Very controllable string here. Enough spin to keep the ball in the court. Firm, direct-enough feedback to know where the ball is going while still maintaining a little softness. The people that rave about Poly Tour Pro say it's spinny, controllable, great feel, whatever… that's how I experience Strike. There's enough pop to add a little zip to your ball. But really, the name of the game is control. Point and shoot volleys or bashing from the baseline, I never found it lacking. If I wanted to lay into a ball or give a little extra to a put-away I could do so confidently. Targets were found easily, and the string never had any weird “how did THAT go THERE?” moments except just before breakage. It gave out what was put into it and enhanced my shots just enough. If I had to put a number on it: 5/10 for power and 9/10 for control.
Nice and crisp without being harsh. Kind of like the new Ezone, actually. It took 20 minutes to get used to for me. There's some flex in the string, but it stops quickly on bigger swings. Hitting a ball clean with a round string is just so much more pleasant than a shaped one, and this one is really nice. Up there with ALU – but it's different from ALU – how pleasing it is to smack groundstrokes up the middle. Volleys were nice: point and shoot with some touch when needed. I had no problem adding spin to a shot at the last second or knifing slices through the court either. This string responded well in all “feel” situations. The feedback I was getting from the stringbed helped me hit all of my shots confidently – it's in line with the stiffer, crisper polys I've preferred for years. It's not gut, but I know what's going on, which is all I need.
My expectations were low after testing Poly Tour Pro a couple months ago, but I found more than enough spin here. It's not crazy amounts for a poly, but there is plenty of it if you supply it. The stiffer strings dug into the ball, and I was able to sling it back out flat or with lots of spin to move it through the court. It's above average for round polyesters – better than RPM Blast and Lynx Tour for me. I was left wanting on slice backhands but adjusted. Same on kick serves. That might have to do with launch angle – it didn't drop as much tension as ALU (it was quite stiff off the stringer) and as a round string will have a lower trajectory than lynx tour or confidential. I adjusted in a short time and was happy.
8/10 (great for a round poly)
Maintained playing characteristics through most of the test. I broke it around the 3 hour mark, and the last half hour I could tell it wanted to go. I was working a little harder to keep the ball in the court and a few flew randomly. I would have cut it out after the session had it not broken, but the tension was still there. That's about par for the course for me. ALU starts to go bad after 90 minutes, and so do most Babolat polys and tour bite.
8/10 (top tier for a poly)
I could comfortably go lower in tension to increase comfort, feel, and playability without worrying about losing control. It played well at 48, but it was firmer than everything else I'm used to overall. It could be a very nice cross to natural gut to dampen the launch angle and pop. Very slick and does a great job firming up the stringbed.
If you need a round poly that offers a good feel, tension maintenance, and control look no further. It's got some ALU-like responsiveness and above-average spin for a round poly. You could comfortably drop the tension down and maintain control or use it to firm up a soft main string while maintaining playability for longer than some other popular polyesters.
I'm happy that I enjoyed this playtest – I usually don't enjoy Yonex strings (poly tour pro is so bad to me and ruined my expectations for their whole line), but this one is a nice little gem. It's an honest string, and if you know how to *Strike* the ball, you'll be happy with it!
The Yonex Poly Tour Pro, to be appreciated, has to be strung at lower-than-usual tension and used with a 16 x 19 spin racket with great feel like the Wilson Clash 100, the Yonex Regna, Babolat Strike, etc. I use a Yonex Regna 100 and a Wilson Clash 100 and strings at 48 lb. and it’s the best strings I’ve ever used in terms of spin, comfort, touch, power, durability. And I’ve used Wilson Champion’s Choice, Babolat RPM Blast, Babolat VS natural gut, Solinco HyperG, Solinco Confidential, Wilson ALU Power Rough, etc. I was shocked at how much better my slice, drop shots, and topspins were with the Yonex Poly Tour Pro 17 g.