Without a doubt the nicest racket I have ever played with. It’s light and yet powerful with good accuracy and control. As a racket to play with I have no complaints at all. I really like it.
However it comes with a serious design flaw which almost defies belief. Yonex who have been making quality rackets for years have zero excuse for such a ridiculous oversight. I cannot imagine what they were thinking. In the quest for extra performance in an ever more competitive market they have addopted new technology in spades. On the shaft it proudly proclaims: Nanomesh Neo whatever that means. Full graphite racket and a rotational generator system. Plus it says Isometric.
No doubt all this high tech makes for a better racket but if basic design principals are ignored what does it all mean if the racket is rendered unusable because of a design flaw in the racket?
Frankly I find it inexcusable and utterly pathetic. So what is this flaw you ask. It’s simple. at the top half of the racket there is a small channel moulded into the racket’s frame and this is there to allow the strings to sit in it and so be protected from chafe should the racket touch the court, a fairly common happening even if you are very careful.
Not easy to photograph but the white string at about 2 oclock is easy to see. What is harder to see are the blue strings which despite being less than 0.7 mm thin still protrudes. Standard thickness strings would be proud all along the top of the racket. The depth of the channel simply isn’t deep enough to offer the strings any protection at all.
On the Astox 2 this channel is very shallow and as a consequence the strings protrude beyond it and are instantly vulnerable to being damaged. How did a company like Yonex make such a ridiculous mistake? Only Yonex can answer that one but after just ten hours of extremely careful playing the strings broke. They broke because once, just once I touched the court with the racket head. I only touched it lightly but it was enough to lightly scratch a proud string and that weakness led to the string breaking a little while later.
When I got the racket I noticed this straight away and knew that it was going to be an issue so I placed a thin strip of insulation tape along the strings in the vague hope of protecting them from accidental damage. Of course even this tiny strip of tape affected the head weight so I was not happy doing this especially on a brand new racket.
Further more I chose some hybrid strings which are not even 0.7 mm thick so would protrude even less than ‘normal’ strings. The channel is clearly no where near deep enough to allow the strings any kind of protection. To put this problem in to context, I also have an old Babolat which is probably about ten years old and the strings are old but still not broken. the head is scratched and abused and yet the channel is deep enough to protect the strings from the inevitable wear and tear that a racket experiences. Draw your own conclusions. 10 years with one racket. ten hours with another.
To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. One thing is for sure, my next racket will be chosen on more practical principals and it won’t be made by Yonex! It beggars belief how such an established manufacturer can allow such an oversight.