Dunlop is a brand that’s been around the world of tennis for as long as any other.
Their Max 200G stands out as the most significant graphite racket of the late 70s and early 80s. Over the years, Wilson, Babolat, Head and even Yonex have taken over market share and popularity in terms of sales, but Dunlop remains a brand that can compete with them in terms of product quality, and performance on court.
They currently produce three distinct silos; a power racket (FX), a spin racket (SX), and a control racket (CX). At Rackets & Runners, we decided that our tennis wall wasn’t quite big enough, and brought in all three: the FX 500, SX 300 and the CX 200 Tour (16 x 19).
Dunlop FX 400
Let’s start with power.
The FX 400 is Dunlop’s flagship, powerful, 300 gram, 16 x 19 frame. It has a thick beam, open pattern and a very stiff flex, but most importantly, it’s painted blue, so you know it must be similar to a Pure Drive (aren’t they all?).
While I’ve never been a huge fan of Pure Drive style rackets, my experience with the FX 400 was generally very positive. The FX 400 could really launch the ball. It had a very low swingweight (310 strung), making the racket easy to swing fast through the air, and pummel the ball through contact. While the 16 x 19 string pattern is open, and lends itself to a more springy and powerful response, Dunlop has tightened it up near the centre of the stringbed, something they do with all their sticks. Many companies have done this in the past, but have trended away from it in recent years. This made the racket feel ever so slightly more precise, and certainly more solid.
Being a power racket, the FX 500 was undoubtedly stiff but still fairly comfortable; it seems like the SONICORE dampening technology was doing its job. I will say that if you’ve had a history of arm discomfort, I would look at other rackets. Dunlop can add whatever they’d like to their graphite, but a flex of 71 will never feel like a pillow. The racket could feel a little harsh and jarring, and the low static and swing weight didn’t help absorb much of the shock. Perhaps stringing it with a softer polyester, or even a hybrid with a multifilament would help reduce some of those unwanted vibrations. But overall, this racket more than holds its own compared to the Pure Drives, Ultras and Ezones of the world.
Dunlop SX 300
The Dunlop SX 300 is banana yellow. I think we’re all starting to see a theme here.
Yes, the yellow racket from Dunlop is indeed their spin racket.The SX 300 features all of the usual spin technology jargon one might expect from a racket in this category. Its “V-Energy Shaft” is Dunlop’s fancy name for an aerodynamic beam, and it has Spinboost+ spin grommets (wow!). Most importantly, it has a very open 16 x 19 string pattern. The SX 300, like the FX 400, has a very low swing weight for a 300 gram frame. That, along with the aerodynamic beam, makes the racket feel very whippy, almost demanding that you lasso your shots like Rafael Nadal. The SX 300 certainly lives up to its massive spin marketing; it produces tons of RPMs, and at a very high launch angle. If you decide to go flat with this racket, the ball will sail somewhere, not into the court. But somewhere. I often found myself standing farther behind the baseline, windshield wiping my way through rallies by taking huge cuts at the ball. This is far from my usual style, but something I felt comfortable doing, and ultimately really enjoyed with the SX 300.
Again, Dunlop has stayed consistent in closing up the string bed near the sweetspot of the SX 300. It’s far more subtle on this racket, but certainly does give it that more precise feel, while not taking away from the racket’s spin potential. Compared to the last couple generations of the Pure Aero, I found that this racket sprayed the ball less, and gave it a more solid feel. Definitely a plus.
Dunlop CX 200 Tour (16 x 19)
Last, but certainly not least, we have the CX 200 Tour, in the 16 x 19 variation. It’s my personal favourite of the bunch as it is far closer to the type of racket I use, simply due to the fact that it’s a controlled, players’ frame.
95 in², 16 x 19s are no longer commonplace in the tennis world. While 98 in² has become “good enough” for control, there is something truly unique to the feel of a thin beamed, 95 in² racket. No racket with a bigger head size can quite achieve the same precision and touch, or give the player as much connection to the ball. On the CX 200 Tour, the 16 x 19 pattern opens up this style of frame to the modern, spin oriented game. It might not feel as solid as its 18 x 20 sister, but that’s the price you have to pay in order to compete when the rallies become spinny slugfests.
Fresh off the stringing machine, I had one major issue with the CX 200 Tour. It has a ridiculously low swing weight. (Side note: I’m starting to sense a theme here with Dunlop and their low swing weights). However, that did give me the ability to treat the CX 200 Tour as a platform racket. What is a platform racket? It’s a frame that is ripe for customization. Because it comes in at a low static and swing weight, I can choose where I want to add weight, and how I want it to affect my swing and contact feel.
For most people, customization and “platform rackets'' and all of those shenanigans are far too complicated. But not for me, I love that stuff. Hopefully you do too. I ended up adding lead to the 12 o'clock position in the hoop, as well as a leather grip, bringing my CX 200 Tour to a 330 swing weight, and a 345 gram static weight. With the customization, this racket was extremely solid and stable, and made me feel all the more connected to the ball. The racket is flexible and comfortable, and you will know exactly where your ball is going as soon as it leaves the stringbed. It’s not a forgiving racket, but for a 95 in.² head size, there are certainly more punishing sticks out there. This is an absolute must-try from Dunlop.
Great Value Rackets
It’s no secret the tennis industry has inflated its prices in the last year. Dunlop have decided to remain reasonable, and keep their racket prices relatively low. All the models on this list come in at $239.98, that’s 3/4 the price of the average racket from the big 4 brands, making Dunlop frames incredible value for money. They are neither technically better nor technically worse, just different.