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Playtest: HEAD FXP Power/FXP 17

By Greg Raven

Head FXP Power/FXP is a hybrid from Head’s Perfect Match Hybrid program. With Head’s unique system and easy-to-follow matrix, the player can find the perfect match for his chosen benefits. The combination of FXP Power and FXP is aimed at players looking for power as the primary benefit, with control as the additional benefit. Previously, we’ve playtested two other Perfect Match combinations (August 2009 and November 2009 RSI).

Head FXP Power

FXP Power is a 17-gauge soft multifilament. It contains a high-tech micro-fiber core with a single wrap with each filament in the wrap containing a “tri-cluster” of FiberGEL filaments. According to Head, this combination provides ultimate elasticity unleashing unprecedented power. USRSA members ranked FXP Power the fifth best synthetic string in the 2008 USRSA members’ Choice Awards String Survey.

FXP 17 has a special “tri-cluster” of FiberGEL filaments that are integrated into the polyamide core creating maximum ball pocket for superior control and great power. A special “tri-cluster” of polyester fibers also are incorporated into the polyamide wrap creating a crisp feel, durability, and additional control.

Head FXP

FXP Power and FXP are available in 17-gauge half sets (16-gauge available in full sets) in natural only. It is priced from $12 (FXP Power $6.25 half set, FXP $5.75 half set). For more information or to order, contact Head at 800-289-7366, or visit head.com. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about getting a free set to try for yourself.

In the Lab

The coils each measured 20 feet. The diameters measured 1.22-1.23 mm (FXP Power) and 1.24-1.25 mm (FXP) before stringing, and 1.18-1.19 mm and 1.21-1.22 mm after stringing, respectively. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 77 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 × 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 71 RDC units, representing an 8 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. FXP Power/FXP added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 35 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 27.3.

FXP Power and FXP are each very easy to install, and working with half sets only makes them that much nicer. Despite the softness of these strings, blocked holes were no problem.

One playtester broke his sample during stringing, none reported problems with coil memory, one reported problems tying knots, and none reported friction burn.

On the court

Our playtest team was really impressed by the comfort and playability of this hybrid combination, ranking it 11th overall in the Comfort category and 13th overall in the Playability category. Our playtesters also ranked FXP Power/FXP well above average in Power, Control, and Touch/Feel. As a result, FXP Power/FXP as a hybrid ranks well above average overall compared to the 138 strings we’ve playtested to date for publication.

Six playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one at three hours, one at four hours, two at six hours, one at eight hours, and one at 12 hours.

Conclusion

It’s a rarity to test a hybrid of two nylon strings, and our playtest team appreciated the opportunity, judging by the comments. Easy to string, easy on the arm, and with plenty of plusses to recommend it, Head FXP Power 17 mains with FXP 17 crosses seems to do exactly what Head promises in its Perfect Match program.

Head Perfect Match Hybrid Matrix

Playtester comments

“This is the best string I have tried. The bite is very pronounced. The combination of touch, power, control, durability, and comfort is unbelievable.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200G (Muscle Weave) strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 17)

“The blend of playability, control, and comfort of this hybrid is truly exceptional. While this may lack the durability of a polyester hybrid, I would strongly recommend this string to the majority of my customers.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Radical MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel Premium 16)

“Extremely easy to install. High marks for playability, tension maintenance, comfort, and power. Very smooth ride.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Zen Team strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Hyperlast Spin 19/16)

“This is one of the best strings I have tested. Great feel and power. Durability and spin are outstanding. Tension loss happens fairly early, so pre-stretching might be a good idea. Overall, this is a great string.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Aeropro Drive strung at 56 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)

“Nice feel! I usually have trouble playing with anything but natural gut mains and polyester crosses. This string is an exception.” 5.5 male serve-and-volley player using Dunlop Aerogel 4D 2 Hundred strung at 55 pounds CP (natural gut/polyester 17)

“This string has great feel, power, and playability.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Prince O3 Hybrid Lite OS strung at 63 pounds (Prince Premier LT 16)

“This combination works well. Solid pop on serves. Great feel on volleys. String plays fresh through several sessions. Very impressive.” 3.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 Stretch strung at 58 pounds LO (Gamma TNT Fatcore 17)

“This a very comfortable string. Great for touch players in search of feel and playability.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 Speedport Black (hole inserts) strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Poly EXP 18)

“This string plays great from the first hit. Great control, comfort, and power.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson Kobra Team FX strung at 62 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This is an arm-friendly string with great feel. It has an abundance of pop and spin. The absence of off-center shock makes groundies and volleys a pleasure. This is just a great all-around string.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 17L)

“Given that I am recovering from an arm injury, this is just what the doctor ordered. There is almost no impact shock. Big swings can be taken with impunity. Despite the extra power, depth and trajectory are very easy to control. The absence of a trampoline makes for a very predictable response. This is one of the best strings I have ever used.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 58 pounds LO (Babolat Superfine Play 17)

“These strings stretch a lot during installation. The playability, power, and control are excellent. I would definitely stock and use this string.” 4.0 male all-court player using Gamma Diamond Fiber M 6.5 MP strung at 70 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 16)

“Perfection. An outstanding string in all areas. Control is incredible, despite the high power level. This is the benchmark for comfort and power. Best nylon setup I’ve ever tried.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Volkl Tour 9 V Engine (70 Holes) strung at 38 pounds LO (Gamma Zo Magic 16)

“This string has loads of playability and comfort. Excellent control from the baseline. Decent power and spin on serves. Very crisp. I would use this string.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Aeropro Drive strung at 62/65 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane/Wilson Stamina 17/16)

“Installation is very quick. This is a very comfortable and powerful combination.” 4.0 male all-court player using Yonex RDS 001 strung at 58 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 18)

“Great feel. Very soft and arm friendly. A great option for players with tendon problems. Heavy hitters and string breakers might want less power and more durability.” 6.0 male all-court player using Vantage VT231 strung at 54 pounds CP (natural gut 16)

“This string has a great combination of spin, comfort, and control. Players without durability concerns will really like it.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Four FX strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson Hollow Core 16)

“This string rates high in every category but tension maintenance. Tons of power. Excellent comfort and control. Perhaps pre-stretching would minimize the initial tension loss.” 4.0 male all-court player using Pro Kennex Core 1 No. 10 strung at 60 pounds LO (Pacific X Force/Gosen OG-Sheep Micro Super 18/17)

“The comfort and control really stand out.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Six.One (68 Holes) strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This hybrid is recommended to intermediate players without heavy topspin.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson nSix One Team strung at 60 pounds LO (Luxilon Original Rough/Wilson Sensation 16/17)

“This is a comfortable hybrid. Great control and power. Topspin lobs come down with pinpoint accuracy.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince EXO3 Ignite strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Premier LT 16)

“Outstanding comfort. Good playability.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Dunlop M Fil 200 Plus strung at 56 pounds CP (Isospeed Control 16)

“This is a very powerful hybrid. Higher tensions are advised for people with control problems. Overall, this is a great combination.” 3.5 female all-court player using Yonex RDS 003 strung at 56 pounds CP (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 17)

“This is soft string with a very smooth, even response. Extremely comfortable with good spin and decent power.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 16)

“This hybrid pockets the ball very nicely. Control, comfort, and feel are above average. The durability is slightly lacking. It is best suited to serve and volley players who hit a lot of touch shots.” 4.5 male all-court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7g strung at 63 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)

“Very good control. Feel and playability remain consistent over time. Very solid feel at impact.” 3.5 male all-court player using Wilson n1 strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)

“After 20 hours, the string looks new. It is a comfortable string with low power. The feel is somewhat lacking.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 65 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)

“This is a very comfortable hybrid. String movement is fairly high.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix Two strung at 58 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon SP 17)

“The comfort and power are above average. Everything else is adequate.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson nSix Two strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string plays great initially. After the first hour, however, the strings start to move and tension loss becomes an issue. It is very easy on the arm, but heavy spin eventually causes breakage.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson K Pro Staff strung at 56 pounds LO (Luxilon Original/natural gut 16/16)

“This string plays well “out of the box”, but playability suffers after it loses tension.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Head i.X6 OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 17)

“Great control and touch on volleys. Not enough spin from the back court.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One (68 Holes) strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This is a very lively string with great control. Durability is lacking.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 63 pounds LO (polyester/Wilson NXT 16)

“This string lacks feel and power.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson n5 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“String popped while stringing.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Dunlop Aerogel 4D 2 Hundred strung at 62 pounds CP (nylon multifilament 16)

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier 4
somewhat easier 9
about as easy 19
not quite as easy 3
not nearly as easy 0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 2
somewhat better 12
about as playable 8
not quite as playable 12
not nearly as playable 0
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 1
somewhat better 10
about as durable 14
not quite as durable 9
not nearly as durable 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability (13th overall) 3.8
Durability 3.0
Power 3.5
Control 3.6
Comfort (11th overall) 3.8
Touch/Feel 3.5
Spin Potential 3.3
Holding Tension 3.2
Resistance to Movement 3.2

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About the Author

Greg Raven  is an associate editor for RSI magazine and technical writer. He is certified as a Master Racquet Technician by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association. He can be reached via e-mail at greg@usrsa.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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