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Dunlop - On The Ball?
A comparison of the Dunlop Pro Revelation 200G to the old Max 200G

by Hunter Pieper

Todayís tennis is truly a high tech sport. What with all the extreme super-polymer, elastomatic-synthetic gut strings, and the titanium-bonded, graphite synthesized, super-long, extreme (thereís that word again) oversized racquet frames, itís no wonder. Merely Deluxe just doesnít hack it anymore. But with all this new technology involved, it seems to me that tennis racquets today are just basically stiffer, and lighter than they used to be. But better? I wonder.

No grommets! Case in point; Dunlop recently introduced their new Pro Revelation 200G, a replacement racquet for the famed Max 200G. ( The racquet used by both John McEnroe, and Steffi Graf.) A playerís racquet by todayís standards the Revelation measures a classic 27 inches in length, and sports a 95 sq. inch head size ( with a 90 on the way apparently ); the old version had an 84 inch head size. Dunlop says that this new Revelation 200G is just the thing for all the players who, ď have requested the Max 200G be produced again.Ē This is what they say on their website.

I own two Revelation 200Gs, and Iíve played with them for 8 months now. Theyíre not bad racquets, a bit like a soft Wilson 6.1 pro staff actually, but they donít feel like real 200Gs as far as I can remember. And I feel this even though I havenít played exclusively with a Max 200G since 1991. Thatís when mine finally went dead, causing me to make the big switch to something comparable. Suffice to say, 19 different racquets later Iím still looking.

Dunlop says this new racquet is better. I find that a rather dubious assertion being they no longer make the Max 200G. Who knows anymore at this point? I like to see things for myself , so I combed the Internet in search of a real Max 200G with which I could do a right and proper comparison test to see if in fact things have changed for the better, or have only become cheaper to manufacture for Dunlop. What follows in short, are my impressions of the two racquetís respective qualities.

The Revelation 200G Pro

It took me more time to get the feel ( aim ) of the Revelation than some other racquets Iíve had such as the Wilson 6.1 pro staff. I think that was due to the fact that the ISIS dampening gimmick Dunlop used in the handle had a way of disconnecting oneís hand from the feel of the ball without significantly dampening any of the shock and buzz attributed with said feel. Going to a natural leather grip helped get some of the feel back as did finding the right string and tension combo. For me it was 17ga Wilson Hammer Tec at 64lbs, which works fairly well as long as theyíre freshly changed about every two weeks. Agitating string buzz was prevalent but, a rubber band tied in the strings did more for the buzz in the Revelation than it ever did in a pro staff. Strange that, because a pro staff had less noticeable buzz when compared without a string dampener in either, but the Revelation buzzed less when both were compared with string dampeners.

Once dialed in though, flat ground stroke shot control was really pretty good with the Revelation, as well as serve control, and I liked the tight string pattern. The little extra frame flex made the Revelation easier on the elbow than say a pro staff, and after a couple of months of good ball bashing it actually softened up even more. I didnít like that characteristic at first, because the feel of my two respective Revelations were different until both got through their initial breaking in stage and settled down into their ready for wear stage. But after that they seemed pretty close.

At 12 & 1/2ozís the Revelation is as stable as anything on the market, although it does at times seem a tad whispy in the head. It is a pretty good vollier as long as you get good position on the ball and strike it dead center at the lower middle part of the head. Frantic stab volleys and shoe string pick-ups are harder though, because one, itís not stable enough to steer the ball accurately from a weak and awkward position, unless you happen to posses the grip and strength of a lunatic precisely at the moment of contact, and two, it doesnít naturally lift the ball very much. Whatever plane of travel the ball comes in on is pretty much the one itís going to leave on. It likes to drive balls into the net.

Forehand chip shots are difficult with it too. So much so, that I donít even attempt that shot with it anymore. This is due I think to the larger 95 inch head size ( the racquetís not mine ) and my continental grip. Switching to an eastern grip helps, but it telegraphs intentions, and besides Iíve never been a big fan of flip-flopping the grip during play.

The Revelation 200G does not induce aggressive play
The Revelation 200G does not induce aggressive play

And thatís about it really. Overall, the New Revelation 200G is pretty much like every other head light racquet on the market today; little less power, little more control. Itís easier on the elbow than a 6.1 pro staff, but doesnít have the crisp feel of one.

The Max 200G

The particular Max 200G Iím using for this comparison is at least ten years old, and as such canít be expected to be as crisp and lively as it would be if it were brand new. Nevertheless, this oneís still alive and kicking, and with 16ga babolat natural gut strings in it at 58lbs, is in most respects quite crisp too.

Iíve never known a Max that was string or tension sensitive, on the contrary, Iíve played with tensions as low as 40lbs to as high as 62lbs, and with string ranging from 15ga synthetic garbage gut, to 17ga-light gamma TNT , to natural gut, and much in-between. Some were better than others of course, but they all felt pretty good, because of the amount of feel translated through the racquet frame into oneís hand.

The first thought which springs into oneís head upon striking a ball with a Max 200G is: ďComfortable!Ē Completely plush. No buzz, no ping, no shock, just seamless comfort. It feels like a shock absorber which never seems to hit bottom regardless of the size of the bump. And string dampeners? No need. The material, and the construction of the frame absolutely neutralize all agitations, and without losing any feel for the ball in the process. Incredible, nothing else comes close.

The next notable impression is of the stability of the frame. Some of this is due to the 14oz weight of it, some to the 84 inch head size, some to the rather wide and thick beam construction, and some to the force absorbing qualities of the injection-molded materials used in the mix. All together they combine to make the type of stability capable of turning maniacal top-spin ground strokes into Sundayschool volleys at the net.

By comparison, the superior volleying characteristics of the Max 200G encourage aggressive net rushing tactics!
By comparison, the superior volleying characteristics of the Max 200G encourage aggressive net rushing tactics!

And speaking of ground strokes, the Maxís ability to dampen the effects of an opponents heavy top-spin shot pays dividends to its user in two important ways. One, because the frame stabilizes heavy shots so well, it requires less exertion from the player in order to send those shots hurling back at Ďem, with equal if not more ball heaviness, thereby saving precious energy for other aspects of the game such as, mental strategy, running, and bragging (or excuse making) after the match. Two, the sort of stability one finds in a Max 200G coupled with its enhanced feel tends to raise a playerís confidence, ( one is not so concerned with what the opponent will do) which in turn helps produce more assertive type play. Indeed, itís stability virtually demands forward thinking, and aggressive playing tactics. Noticeably more than itís heir apparent.

By anyoneís measure the Max 200G is a shot makerís delight. It absolutely oozes control, and as such, puts a premium on placement rather than gratuitous raw power. But, donít be mislead, deceivingly fast balls can be attained with this thing. Balls that appear to be initially slow coming off the strings carry ultimately deeper and heavier once they clear the net, and invariably almost always skid through upon contact with the court. This raises a predicament for opponents who watch as seemingly lackadaisical shots suddenly reach them with greater impetus than first expected.

Anyone who has ever played against someone with a Max 200G will understand what Iím saying here. Balls that clear the net with little more than an inch to spare donít usually carry to within inches of the baseline, only to then skid right under oneís racquet. At least not with normal racquets anyway, unless the player really gets a good crank on the ball, at which time, you can be reasonably sure of the outcome. Not so with a Max. Idle looking swings are not to be taken lightly, because of this extra carrying effect produced by the racquet. Serves are much the same. Not only can one easily perplex an opponent with the mercurial placement of the serve, but also with the constantly fluctuating speeds, spins, and skids. The ball really does come off the strings differently with a 200G.

Conclusion

The Revelation 200g is newer, stiffer, lighter, works better for two-handers, and comes complete with a pretty keen paint job. The Max 200G is softer, heavier, far more comfortable, and stable, and has the classic look of a tennis racquet. The Revelation is one of a million racquets produced in China. The Max 200G is an injection molded masterpiece made in Jolly old England. The Revelation lacks comparative feel. The Max exudes feel and feedback. The Revelation hits fast balls. The Max 200G launches beguilingly heavy sliders. The Revelation takes extra energy to produce speedy shots. With the Max, only a clean connection with the ball. The Revelation demands a very tight grip in order to punch through volleys. Comparatively, the Max doesnít. The Revelation requires extra input ( exaggerated wrist spin, pick-up etc.. ) to top-spin and to execute pick-up volleys. The soft and flexible frame of the Max torques the ball with little input, and lifts shots off the deck with surprising ease. Its smaller head size allows it to get down to the court a little better too. The Revelation is quick and maneuverable. The Max 200G is smooth, graceful, and elegant in its mobility. With the Revelation, balls explode off the strings. With the Max 200G one almost seems to catch the ball, hold it, then launch it in whatever direction one wants. Two different ways of looking at the world really.

By todayís standards the original Max 200G is a dinosaur. Its head is too small. it weighs too much, and it is too flexible for western gripped ball floggers to get any pace from it ( relatively speaking ). Thereís nothing extreme about it, except for the extreme comfort it yields its user while making extreme angle shots, which extremely bewilder unsuspecting opponents. I for one am extremely disappointed that Dunlop no longer deems it necessary to offer such an exceptionally unique tennis racquet. Itís still the best players' racquet they ever produced...

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