Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Tecnifibre ATP Razor Code 16

By Greg Raven

Tecnifibre ATP® Razor Code is a co-extruded polyester string. The solid core utilitizes Thermocore technology, a Tecnifibre process to improve flexibility in polyester strings. The Thermocore process involves using temperature control during the manufacturing process to soften the string’s structure for shock absorption and vibration reduction.

Tecnifibre’s target for this string is the advanced tournament-level player, and as such is offered as one of its “Performance Pro” strings alongside Black Code (July 2009 RSI), Ruff Code (Apr. 2012 RSI), Pro Redcode (Sep. 2006 RSI), and Polycode. ATP Razor Code was, however, developed exclusively for the association between Tecnifibre and the ATP — the first such string from Tecnifibre — requiring three years of R&D. Tecnifibre’s ATP players such as Janko Tipsarevic are already switching to ATP Razor Code.

ATP Razor Code is available in 16/1.30, 17/1.25 and 18/1.20 in carbon and blue. It is priced from $16 for 40-foot sets, $200 for 660-foot sets. For more information or to order, contact Tecnifibre at 888-TFTennis (888-838-3664), or visit tftennis.com.

In the Lab

We tested the 16-gauge ATP Razor Code. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.31-1.33 mm prior to stringing, and 1.24-1.27 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 75 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 69 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. ATP Razor Code added 16 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 32 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 5.5. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 22.7.

ATP Razor Code installs much like other poly-based strings. We noted no difficulties or special considerations. Tecnifibre recommends a 5-10% reduction from your typical nylon reference tension, and we passed this along to the members of our playtest team.

One playtester broke the sample during stringing, six reported problems with coil memory, two reported problems tying knots, and none reported friction burn.

On the Court

Our playtesters found a lot to like in ATP Razor Code, but most of all they liked the Resistance to Movement, rating it 2nd best in this category of the 170 strings we’ve playtest for publication. They also gave it high marks in the Control category (rating it 4th highest), often mentioning the great spin afforded them by ATP Razor Code. The high-modulus polyester sheath no doubt had something to do with ATP Razor Code’s 15th-highest rating in the Durability category. Tecnifibre also performs a high-temperature pre-stretch of ATP Razor Code during manufacture, which may have helped it garner a 17th-best rating in Tension Retention. In addition, our playtest team rated ATP Razor Code excellent in the Power category, and well above average for Spin Potential. As a result, Tecnifibre ATP Razor Code comes in as the 16th-highest-rated string we’ve playtested.

Two playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one at nine hours and one at 18 hours.

Conclusion

With years of experience making polyester strings, on top of its decades of experience making other types of premium strings including its well-known polyurethane offerings, Tecnifibre has poly string manufacturing covered. And although Tecnifibre isn’t afraid to think outside the box (as shown in strings such as Promix and X-Code), even a relatively traditional offering such as ATP Razor Code still incorporates plenty of innovative thinking, with impressive results.

Playtester Comments

“Wow! This is the best string I’ve used. From the first hit it feels broken-in and responds perfectly to all swing speeds. Groundstrokes come off with effortless precision. When hitting on the run the ball stays on the strings, giving a sensation not unlike natural gut. I definitely get more power on my serve. Volleys feel crisp and extremely accurate. Off-center hits don’t feel as harsh as they do with other polys.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head Youtek Radical MP strung at 51 pounds CP (Gamma Asterisk Tour 17)

“The exceptional spin control on serves leads to ambitious targeting. Topspin kickers explode off the court. Big swings from the baseline come with minimal shock. The stringbed response is quite lively and loaded with spin. My opponents seem frustrated, and they complain about how heavy my ball is.” 4.5 male all court player using Dunlop Aerogel 2 Hundred strung at 56 pounds LO (Wilson Red Alert 16)

“For once a soft poly with exceptional all-around playability. This control string does everything well, including touch!” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat AeroPro Drive GT strung at 50 pounds CP (MSV Focus Hex 17L)

“This one feels like a medium soft poly. The ball pocketing is exceptional, with great control and very easy access to spin. I can stick it in either corner of the court without having to think. It’s also surprisingly comfortable and dampened.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Youtek IG Prestige Pro MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 16L)

“Very comparable to the soft co-poly I use. Extremely playable for monofilament control string.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson Enduro Pro 17)

“A pleasing and juicy feel for a co-poly, like the kind experienced with Luxilon Alu Power or Babolat RPM Blast. Very pleasurable hit!” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Cortex strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“This is the best all-around poly I’ve hit with! It is the ultimate topspin string, with the perfect combination of spin, control, and durability. It has incredible comfort for a durability string.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop Aerogel 4D 1 Hundred strung at 40 pounds LO (Luxilon XP 16L)

“Though initially stiff, this poly settles quickly and become comfortably firm. The low power lets me rip into my groundstrokes without sacrificing any control. The comfort is outstanding for a firm string, which is great for my elbow. Even after thirty hours these strings feel great. This is my new string.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince EXO3 Tour (16x18) strung at 44 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Blue 17)

“Great poly! Has surprisingly good power on all strokes. The control, even at low tension, is simply remarkable. Considering this is a poly-based string, the feel and touch amaze me. I will definitely add this string in my inventory!“ 4.0 male all court player using Prince EXO Graphite (port inserts) strung at 53.4 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation/Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17/18)

“This string is too stiff during the first session. After that, however, it settles in and feels much better. I had some of my friends hit with it and they immediately noticed the controllable power. High marks for touch.” 3.5 male all court player using Yonex RDiS 200 Midplus strung at 52 pounds CP (Volkl Cyclone 17)

“Nice combination of spin, comfort, and tension maintenance. Playability does not diminish significantly over time. This is one of those strings that gives the player confidence when executing aggressive, heavy shots.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilaon BLX Six One Two strung at 45 pounds LO (Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 17)

“This is one of the most comfortable polys that I have ever used. At 50 pounds the pocketing is awesome. I can feel the ball getting gripped and rotated by the strings. Loads of spin-potential, though not quite as much as my usual setup.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince EX03 Rebel (hole inserts) strung at 50 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite/Prince Premier Attack 18/17)

“This string plays great after a short break-in period. Comfort and power are high for a poly.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl V1 Classic strung at 50 pounds CP (Wilson Hyperlast Spin 17)

“There is tons of power in the sweet spot, but a little too much shock off-center. This string has very low tension loss with absolutely no sign of notching. String movement is nonexistent. Good spin and ball grip for a round string. Great for an advanced baseliner with strong strokes.” 4.5 male all court player using Dunlop Aerogel 5 Hundred Tour strung at 52 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Red Code/Gamma Synthetic Gut 18)

“Much easier to string than most polys. The somewhat slippery exterior decreases friction burn. This one has above average power for a poly. The spin is excellent.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Red strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson Reaction 16)

“Great durability! This is an above average poly. The feel is crisp on both hard and soft shots. Though not the most comfortable teaching string, the controllable power, easy spin and resistance to movement make it a great option for big cuts and match play.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six One strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Savage 17)

“Great option for string breakers. Recommended to heavy hitters who want the control benefits of a poly. Big swings come down inside the lines!” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 60 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 16)

“Nice spin, great feel, and good power, especially in the beginning. Over time the spin potential goes down, but the lively response remains consistent. This string never moves, even with my heavy spin. It’s a good, not a great string. It may never break.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat AeroPro Drive GT strung at 56 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 17)

“Very impressive feel and control at a lower tension. Spin potential does not waiver over time. After eight hours the feels diminishes.” 4.0 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige MP strung at 48/50 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Blue 17)

“Sound mechanics are rewarded with some nice pop. Control is excellent. Even off-center hits are clean. The outstanding control allows me to swing bigger on serve. There is some arm fatigue after extended use.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Juice strung at 53 pounds CP (Luxilon Savage 16)

“Big hitters in search of a lively co-poly will like this one. This is a great string for doubles players who want easy power on serves and volleys without having to sacrifice control.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Yonex VCore strung at 60 pounds CP (Yonex Cyber Brid 125 16L)

“This poly gives me extra power and spin with plenty of comfort. First serves have good pop and second serves have plenty of kick. Reminds me of Luxilon Alu Power. I would switch to this string if the durability was better.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Storm Tour + GT strung at 54 pounds LO (Luxilon Original Rough 16)

“This one not only has a crisp and predictable response, the feel is decidedly above average. Control and spin are top notch. One of the better polys I’ve hit with.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive + strung at 47 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Blue 17)

“Coil memory is manageable for a poly. Durability and spin potential are exceptional. It plays softer than most polys, without sacrificing the control and spin. Unlike most of the polys I’ve hit, this one did not bother my wrist or shoulder.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Youtek Speed Elite strung at 48 pounds CP (Gosen OG Sheep Micro 16)

“This string has poor feel and spin potential during the initial break-in phase. After two hours the feel improves but creating topspin requires a lot of effort. On the upside, I’m getting increased control and touch on my volleys. Since I’m looking to attack the net more, this string is actually a good option for me. Playability lasted about twelve hours.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Youtek IG Instinct MP strung at 52 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough/Gamma Synthetic Gut 17/16)

“I cannot detect anything special about this string. It feels like a standard polyester.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Flexpoint Radical MP strung at 40 pounds CP (Polyester 16)

“This one proved a little too stiff for me. Even at a lower tension it’s tough on my shoulder. Control, however, is excellent.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 54 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string lacks power and plays quite firm. At times I feel like I’m swinging like a mad man to keep the ball deep. Resistance to movement and tension maintenance are above average.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7g strung at 59 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 17)

“Like most firm polys, this string feels dead. Power and spin are hard to generate. It’s too hard to put any action on the ball. The only stroke that does not suffer with this string is my serve, which is less dependent on power. Needless to say, this playtest gave me a tired arm.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson nTour strung at 54 pounds LO (Tourna Quasi Gut 16)

“My reference tension of 48 pounds turned out to be a little too loose in my Babolat Pure Drive. Tension maintenance is above average, but this string did not make my list of favorites.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 48 pounds LO (Polyester 16)

“Playability is lacking. Tension does not drop much but the strings do seem to lose pop over time.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 52 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 16)

“Compared to the more elastic co-polys this is an ‘also ran.’ Touch and feel are too low, as is spin potential. I also do not get enough ‘snapback.’” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 47 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 18)

Playtester Ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
much easier 0
somewhat easier 3
about as easy 20
not quite as easy 8
not nearly as easy 1
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to the string played most often)
much better 2
somewhat better 8
about as playable 11
not quite as playable 8
not nearly as playable 3
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
much better 9
somewhat better 10
about as durable 10
not quite as durable 2
not nearly as durable 1
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.4
Durability (15th overall) 4.4
Power 3.5
Control (4th overall) 3.9
Comfort 3.1
Touch/Feel 3.0
Spin Potential 3.5
Holding Tension (17th overall) 3.7
Resistance to Movement (2nd overall) 4.3

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About the Author

Greg Raven  is an associate editor for Tennis Industry 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 three to five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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