The Yonex Astrox 99 has an interesting feel.
Whilst it is a stiff flexed, head heavy racket, the weight in the head appears to be more evenly spread, more akin to 88S than 88D. But there was definitely a difference compared to 88S, although it is difficult to pinpoint where. It’s as though the combined weight carries the head through the shot so well as an entire unit rather than a part of the frame.
For me, Astrox 99 didn’t quite feel as sleek or as fast as 88D, although I still felt the head moved well when performing overhead shots. When hitting clears, Astrox 99 delivers nice, crisp shots, better than 88S but not quite as easy as 88D. 99 just needed a little more work. There’s plenty of power, but you need good preparation and technique to get the most from this racket. I can imagine it being very unforgiving if you’re late on a shot and snatching a reply.
Like 88D, I did not find the racket tiring at all, despite the head weight and felt I could continue playing shots in long rally situations.
Hitting drop shots proved interesting. The feel was there, delivery good and the shuttle felt solid on the stringbed. Again, there doesn’t appear to be the same speed as Astrox 88D and was possibly a touch slower and similar to 88S. The shots were still very good and I did detect a slightly better angle on some of the shots, or am I being swayed by the marketing?
Smash was good too, although I wonder whether the slightly heavier 3U will add more power? The feel on a smash is a bit like throwing Thor’s hammer… it’s solid and needs the correct wind up to make the strike count. Whilst I hit one or two surprisingly steep angles, is this really due to the way the racket flexes? I can’t feel the flex to know for sure. But the feel was really solid, just lacking that top of the head weight for extra oomph or is it that there’s this almost compressed weight which means I don’t really need it? Confused, I feel I need a holiday whilst trying to work this racket out.
Mid-court hitting was strong and without problem such as fatigue. This is a solid performer, playing easy flat drives, changing direction was good too. Whilst Astrox 88S version feels faster, Astrox 99 is very close. Push shots to the net area and beyond were easy to control and I felt I had a better feel of the weighting needed on each shot compared with Astrox 88S.