Stéphane Penso is back to offer us once again his “supers” palas tests always more complete than the others. That week Babolat Viper Air.

Here is the first of the 4 tests that Stéphane will be offering us in the coming weeks!

Test conditions

Exceptional playing conditions. Slightly hazy sun, 21 °, almost zero wind and humidity below 60%.

Visual

This Babolat Viper Air has a enigmatic shape and unique design, it is unlike anything else we have seen so far. Uonly matte finish and a combo of colors that may shock at first. The more manic will note the blue and red border surrounding a white central band which recalls the flag of the motherland of the Babolat factory.

Babolat Air Viper

A little bit of technique

This racket hybrid (a mix of diamond and water drop shapes), has a medium balance and a sweet spot located on the upper part of the sieve. The core is the new X-Eva which consists of three different layers. The two outer layers have a higher density to provide power in the shots where power is needed. The inner layer is softer and increases comfort by improving the margin for error on off-center hits and slower hits.

Its 16K carbon fiber surface makes the AIR Viper the hardest of the three new Vipers.

The characteristic sound can throw off more than one, Royal fans Padel are already rejoicing (dry and expressive sound).

Babolat has implemented a technology 3D Spin + which means the surface enjoys a sandpaper-like finish and an embossed pattern on the sieve.

The new system Vibrasorb reduces vibrations and increases comfort, reducing the risk of injury. 

Like previous models, this Viper uses technology HPS. The placement of the drilled holes is adjusted according to the shape of the racquet to provide better grip.

Our test racquet weighed 359 grams with an overgrip.

Another cool feature is the fairly long shaft, perfect for players using a two handed backhand. On the other hand in this price range, a pity that the fleece strap is still neglected ...

On the track

Annotation AIR is an apt name, the racquet is light and easy to maneuver. The coefficient of penetration in “AIR” is undoubtedly the main objective that Babolat wanted to implement, which is quite simply unparalleled. Being designed as a racquet primarily oriented towards attack with a handling option, it offers excellent results in defense.

It is easy to move around and adopt the right positions. Although the feel is relatively firm, the performance is brilliant for those who like to hit in extension.

Smashing friends (from very good level), you will be conquered and pleasantly surprised to launch missiles easily, even in the most inconvenient positions. The hardness of the Viper Air helps generate power in more forceful shots, but the medium balance and lower weight still requires proper technique to throw big bags. 

It goes dry and strong, without much comfort when you send the watts, but the expected result is finally there. But itIts rigidity nevertheless allows to benefit from a distinct touch, offering in addition an excellent “controllable” power, astonishing control and a good precision. 

This racquet shines in fast duels on the fly, as its responsiveness and center of gravity are very influential for ever faster play from year to year. It is not the most forgiving and comfortable racquet at the back of the court, but it does deliver good results for experienced players.

The arm being relieved of a few grams, this pala is placed more easily and offers very good results in precision shots from the position at the net. 

The hybrid form (closer to the drop of water) also helps in Bandejas and Víboras. The 3D pattern adds an additional effect.

En conclusion

Babolat defined a specific style of play for this racquet and did it well (in my opinion). In order to improve handling, the French factory had to cut back slightly on the power aspect.

The concept with three different attack models, for three types of players, meets the rapidly changing needs of modern padel players. Babolat has understood the problem very well by declining these palas in different sauces but with common volcanic specificities, the explosiveness.

The Viper AIR is therefore in the middle of the range between the Technical (softer racket because of 12k carbon) which has more ball output (which will have to be tamed) and heavier (which will have to be mastered), and the Counter, more focused on counter-attack and defense, tolerant, more pleasant to play, for players favoring long exchanges (tennis player abstain;)).

The Viper AIR benchmark will delight anyone looking for excellent control without sacrificing power.

I can only recommend this racket to experienced players, as it requires excellent technique in order to achieve the optimum performance and efficiency sought.

Beginner players will turn to softer gums and more comfortable and forgiving racquets.

This AIR model will therefore be the safe bet of the range, without real defect, oriented towards handling and nevertheless very powerful.

His +

Engime

maneuverability

Effect taking

His -

Rigidity (beginner abstain)

Navigation comfort

Still no padded wrist strap

Partner info for this test

Tennis Club Montaleigne
1 road to Estelle
06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer
04.93.31.70.89

Nice smash
200 California Avenue
Nice 06200
04.93.86.95.04

Julien Bondia

Julien Bondia is a teacher of padel in Tenerife. He is the founder of AvantagePadel.net, a software very popular with clubs and players of padel. Columnist and advisor, he helps you to play better through his many tutorials padel.