Playing with a stiff, head heavy racket is usual for me although my tastes have changed recently. I like the feel of Phantom X-Fire with the aerodynamic qualities although surprisingly I preferred the lighter X-Speed. I was still hitting well but there wasn’t the same easy flow I felt last week when reviewing the X-Speed. There was more work required from me with the X-Fire. I still like the combination and feel of the heavy balance, knowing where the head was moving at all times. That said, the X-Fire wasn’t as easy to manoeuvre even with excellent aerodynamic qualities.
Drop shots were fine and solid, although still falling considerably behind the feeling I had with another prestige frame and the excellent responsiveness of the X-Speed. To put it in a nutshell, you’ve got to work hard to control the racket. When you do, you’re rewarded with excellent results. But, this frame isn’t as forgiving as the X-Speed so be warned, you’ve really got to enjoy playing with rackets with similar specs to get the most out of this frame.
Onto the smash. This racket maintains its superb aerodynamic qualities where it matters most. This is where the X-Fire is working best. If you’re a player who enjoys maintaining attack, I can imagine you choosing the X-Fire as your weapon of choice, using the speed through the air to great advantage. I have played with similar spec’d rackets which felt very slow and lagged behind the shot. You won’t have this feeling with the X-Fire which is a feather in its cap. The speed through the air is good considering the specs.
Flat drives and pushes were tougher and took some concentration. Prior to using this racket I could have benefited from a few days armchair exercises and then I may have felt differently. However, I prefer to review a racket based on a straight out of the box criteria rather than training to use it. Whilst head speed is still good, this racket needs a little bit more wind up, and therefore I think it’s fair to say that it requires good strength to get the best out of fast-flat exchanges. Moving my hand up the grip helped a lot in gaining more speed in this zone.