Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus Racquet Review

Posted on November 6, 2006

Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus

Head Size:
98 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 11 oz.
Swing Weight: 332
Stiffness: 58
Balance: 2 pts. head light
Composition: 80% nCoded graphite/20% nCoded Hyper Carbon/nFoam core
Power: Low
Idea Swing: Long-Fast

Recommended String: Wilson NXT 16 String
Recommended Grip: Wilson True Grip

Suggested Retail Price: $ 199.95
Your Price: $ 179.95
Buy from Amazon.com

Used by WTA Tour star Ana Ivanovic, the Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus is touted by Wilson as two-times stronger and two-times more stable, "22% more powerful than ordinary racquets."

The Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus is one of the most control-oriented of the already-controlled nCode line, with a tighter string pattern and a lighter weight than many other "player's racquets" on the market. Wilson's nFoam technology offers increased comfort and feel, with the injected foam also offering a stick that is easier on the arm.

Wilson's "X-Loop" frame features a flat-beam design on the throat and a more rounded beam on the head. The Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus requires you to bring a lot of your own power to the party, requiring big, aggressive full swings for consistent power, but providing exquisite control.

X-Testers:
Mark is a 5.5 all-court player with a one-handed backhand.
Randy is a 5.0 teaching pro with a one-handed backhand.
Jenni is a 5.0 player and self-described "doubles specialist" with a two-handed backhand.

TESTING: OFF THE GROUND

"Not as much spin potential for me with the dense string bed, but excellent control," said two-handed tester Jenni. "Not as much spin as some of the other "n" racquets but pin-point control after adjusting to it. This is like [Roger] Federer's racquet but a little more forgiving, softer, easier to use."

Also like Federer's game, one-handed backhand testers seemed to be drawn to the nBlade nCode Midplus.

"I could consistently drive my one-handed backhand with good topspin and depth with the nBlade," Randy said. "The control is great on topspin and slice. The power is good but the racquet can penalize you for not setting up properly or having good form."

"I expected a deader racquet with the dense string pattern and the flexible specs, but taking a big crack at the ball gave me the power I needed," said Mark. "It's lighter than I expected too, and control-wise I could do whatever I wanted to do with the ball. Hitting the backhand, there wasn't anything I felt I couldn't do, a great feel."

SERVING

Testers disagreed on the serving potential of the Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus.

"It's a very comfortable racquet to serve with, the dense string pattern gave me more pop and spin than I would have thought," said Jenni. "Kick and slice serves were responsive."

"I wasn't quite getting the spin I wanted to keep the ball down in the court, but I didn't expect it to really grip the ball with the tight string pattern," Randy said. "One thing I did like serving was the feel -- the lack of vibration, not too stiff, really easy on the arm. The nFoam in the frame adds a real nice feel."

"A good serving stick, not a whole lot different from the other nCode player's racquets, lighter," Mark said. "I've played with the oversize version and that gives you more power on everything, but this midplus doesn't lack anything on the serve. I could place it wherever I needed to in the box, get adequate kick out wide or down the middle, and delivering flat serves had a controlled feel too. It's not a Babolat on the serve, but that's why you go with a racquet like this, if you have a service game that's not in need of a power boost."

RETURNING SERVE

"Again, I would have liked a little more spin potential," Jenni said. "I struggled with dipping balls at people's feet in doubles, but the control was pinpoint. I'd probably string this a little looser than the recommended tension to get a little more topspin and power and sacrifice control -- which this racquet has in spades."

"A functional returning racquet, but I added a little lead weight to the sides and found some improved stability," Mark said. "It is very light for a "player's racquet," it does all right on off-center hits, and is real easy on the arm as opposed to some racquets that send a shock up your arm if you don't meet the sweet spot perfectly. Great control on the backhand and forehand, topspin and slice."

"A good returning racquet, even if I was stretched out a could generally put the ball where I wanted to," Randy said. "Like on the groundstrokes, it is a player's racquet so it is a little more demanding than the super racquets that let you bunt the ball back with power. You need to set up properly and hit through the ball, but advanced players will be rewarded with the power they need, plus great control and feel."

VOLLEYING

"This is a racquet for an aggressive all-court player, so I'm not surprised it performed well at the net," Jenni said. "The flat beam on the throat gives it a maneuverable feel, even if the high swingweight keeps it in the average range."

"I liked the feel between the racquet's flexibility and the nFoam," Randy said. "My volleys weren't landing short, there was no noticeable lack of power, and the feel was good if I tried to get tricky at the net."

"With the control you get off groundstrokes, it would be a crime for intermediate-advanced to advanced players not to get to the net and end points with the Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus," Mark said. "This racquet will have you feeling like Federer, but with a more forgiving racquet. The control lets you set up easy net points, and the volleying is stable with enough pop on the ball if you have good mechanics. A little on the light side for those that like a heavier racquet, but a great player's stick."

FINAL VERDICT

New technology with the flat throat beams and the easy-on-the-arm nFoam make the Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus a new, lighter brand of player's stick for 3.5-4.5-rated players and above. For players that can bring their own power to the table, the Wilson nBlade nCode Midplus offers exacting control while the nFoam technology offers nice feel, a must-demo for mid- to high-level players.

Buy from Amazon.com
     for just 179.95


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