Much like the EZONE and VCORE, we compared a couple of weeks back, the Gravity and Speed Pro are two frames that look very similar on paper. The current Gravity Pro is actually nearly identical in mold to the original Youtek Speed MP, with an 18x20 string pattern. Over the years, the Speed has changed quite a bit, so as similar as they look, they are quite different in overall playability.
The Speed Pro weighs 310 grams while the Gravity weighs 315, so they are both fairly heavy, especially for 100s. They are very similar in terms of stiffness, with the Speed flexing at 62 RA unstrung and the Gravity 63. The most significant spec difference is beam thickness; the Gravity Pro has a paper-thin 20-millimetre beam while the Speed's is 23 millimetres.
The Speed has gotten thicker and thicker over the years, and this beam thickness is at the core of each significant playability difference between the two rackets. It's also important to note that the Speed has a much more modern shape than the classic Gravity Pro. The throat is shaped aerodynamically — not quite as extreme as what you'll get on the Extreme or Babolat Pure Aero — but it also significantly affects the racket's playability.
I wanted to keep most variables as similar as possible, so I strung both rackets with Head Lynx Tour at 51 pounds.
Control and Feel
Before I talk about control, I need to address "feel" because the difference in feel will help me explain why control is better on one than the other. Feel is the most instantly noticeable difference between the two rackets.
It comes down to the thicker beam and modern shape on the Speed; it's a more "modern" feeling racket. It's still soft, like the Gravity, but is more mushy and "sticky" in its response. When I say sticky, I mean that when the ball is pocketing into the string bed, instead of feeling the ball flex the frame, it feels like the ball is sinking deep, but the entry and exit points are less well defined, and it can get a little bit lost in the sweet spot. You don't have as precise of flex as on the Gravity.
Because the beam is thin and the frame traditionally molded, the Gravity Pro is entirely classic in its flex. The beam flexes uniformly down the racket and all the way into your hand. When the ball pockets into the strings, you have total understanding of how long it will be in there and where it will go when it exits. The sweet spot is also much smaller than the one on the Speed. It's not tiny, like on the Prestige or Pro Staff 97, but smaller and much more well-defined than on the Speed, so you won't feel like the ball gets lost inside of it.
I've tried to make this "feel" explanation as detailed as possible because it is essential to understand, but I know it may still confuse some of you. Simply put, the Gravity "feels" better than the Speed; you feel more connected to the ball. It's not that the Speed feels bad — it still has excellent feel compared to other frames — but it's just not as good as the Gravity, and this difference in feel has a major effect on the two rackets' control profiles.
At their core, both the Speed and Gravity Pro are "control" rackets and fantastic ones at that. Again, they both have an 18x20 string pattern which is made for control because of how solid it feels and because it makes for a lower and more consistent launch angle.
Still, the Gravity Pro is better for control than the Speed. As I mentioned earlier, feel is all-time good on the Gravity as it's one of the rackets that provides the most connected feel for the ball. It's a classic control racket in the truest sense, and like those, it's so easy to get into a zone once you're hitting well. Also, because the sweet spot is smaller and more well-defined on the Gravity, the racket is more precise when you make proper contact. It's weird to call a 100 square-inch racket a "scalpel," but the Gravity Pro really is one of these precision instruments that hits with total deadly accuracy.
It also has a lower launch angle than the Speed, making it more solid on contact, so you can take a harder swing at the ball without fear that it will fly. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I wholeheartedly believe that the Gravity Pro is the best control racket on the market right now.
Having a bigger sweet spot and higher launch means that the Speed is more forgiving and easier to use, but it also means that the sweet spot isn't as sweet. It pains me to say this about the Speed because I still think it's such a great control racket, and if I were comparing it to the rest of the industry, I would say it's top tier here, but when you're comparing it to the Gravity, it just isn't as good. It's like comparing a great $50 bottle of wine to an aged, legendary-vintage Bordeaux; it's excellent, but not as good as the best.
The racket has a slightly more wild side than the Gravity, and it won't be as good for pin-point precise hitting. But where it suffers compared to the Gravity in control, it makes up for in power.
Power and control usually have an inverse relationship in tennis; what you lose in control, you gain in power, and that's true with these two.
The Speed is significantly more powerful than the Gravity, and that's to be expected with the modern shape and thicker beam, which makes for a sturdier racket that packs more mass behind the ball for extra power. The difference in shot depth is massive, but it also feels like the Speed has a bit more top-end pace-generating potential; it's almost a hybrid power and control racket, whereas the Gravity is firmly a control racket. It's rare to have an 18x20 with so much potential to launch the ball, and it's refreshing because usually, you have to work so hard to get any pace or depth with this string bed.
It's not that the Gravity can't hit with power — it actually packs a decent punch for a racket with such incredible control — but it just doesn't get close to what the Speed has to offer. You have to hit with a fast, full stroke to hit the ball hard, but because you'll feel so much confidence to take a big cut, those who can bring their power will never feel limited with the racket. It's got the swing weight and sweet spot to hit hard; you just have to do the work yourself.
Stability is tough to define, and I will break it down in terms of what I consider "modern stability" and "classic stability." Classic stability is weight behind the ball in a solid and consistent string bed. As you can imagine, the Gravity Pro, with its consistent low-launching string bed and hefty static and swing weight, is incredibly stable.
Modern stability is more difficult to explain. It is often related to power because more powerful rackets have a bigger sweet spot, and if a racket has a bigger sweet spot, it feels more stable as there is a bigger zone to hit before the frame starts to flutter. There are diminishing returns to this, which is why a Ti.S6 isn't "stable," but it's also why tweeners like the Pure Drive and Pure Aero have become so viable, even with the pros. They still have a solid, stable response, with all the benefits of a lower weight. The Speed combines elements of that modern stability with classic stability. It has a bigger, more forgiving sweet spot and only has a marginally lower static and swing weight than the Gravity Pro.
I really can't say which racket is more stable. The Gravity doesn't have that same modern stability, but because it has a more solid and consistent string bed, I'll have to call it a draw. These two might be the most stable stock rackets on the market right now, and remember that if you ever want to make your racket even more stable, adding weight is the best way to do that.
Swing Pattern and Manoeuvrability
Before discussing spin, we need to discuss swing pattern because it has an important effect on spin. The two rackets are both actually pretty "slow" — heavy, 100s will never be fast — after months of playing with the rackets, I still don't know which is faster. The Speed is the SPEED, for crying out loud. It's right there in the name, it's supposed to be fast, yet I can't tell you with 100% confidence that it's faster than the Gravity.
It comes down to the thick beam vs. thin beam or the classic throat vs. aerodynamic throat. The thin beam and aero throat will make the racket head faster, but the thin beam is on the Gravity, and the aero throat is on the Speed, so which one is faster?
It largely depends on your swing style. If you have a more classic, perpendicular-to-the-ground contact point, the Gravity, with its thin beam, will feel faster. If you have a modern, more parallel-to-the-ground contact point, the aero throat will accelerate the Speed.
Somewhat ironically, the Gravity is the quicker racket around the whole court. It might not be faster during the situation I just mentioned, but the thin beam makes it more maneuverable all around the court.
How does this all relate to spin? Spin potential is determined through several different factors, and one of them is swing speed. Because that modern, parallel-to-the-ground style is more spin-friendly by definition, the Speed's swing pattern complements the more spin-friendly style.
The other factors that makeup spin are string bed spacing, mass behind the ball, and string movement, and the Speed is ahead in all three. It has a more open 18x20, so more spin potential from the space between the strings. The thicker beam makes up for the slightly lower swing weight in terms of mass behind the ball, and the grommets are quite a bit more open for string movement than the ones on the Gravity. Overall, it's not that close between which is more spin-friendly; it's clearly the Speed.
It's not that the Gravity can't hit with spin. In fact, it's one of the most spin-friendly true control rackets. With a 100 square-inch head you'll get more spin potential than control rackets with a smaller head.
Which is better for you?
You really can't go wrong with either racket. These are two of the best performing rackets on the market today, and there are few, if any, downsides to playing with either. Throughout this review, I've compared them head to head which means I had to qualify whether one was better or worse in each characteristic, but the reality is that they are both top performing rackets in nearly every aspect.
You are looking at the Speed or Gravity Pro if you want a solid, consistent, and stable racket that isn't as demanding as the most classic control rackets. If that's up your alley, but you're not willing to sacrifice as much spin or power, go for the Speed; otherwise, go for the Gravity. While they're both excellent at everything, one is better at the classic control game and the other for the modern spin and power game.
I would only avoid these two rackets if you want whippy, light-feeling rackets. They are definitely on the more sluggish side, but once you get them moving, the rest is history.
You can probably tell I'm a little bit in love with both of these rackets, and I was really looking forward to comparing them because I have so many thoughts and wanted to share them with fellow tennis addicts. They're just such good rackets that show how much a subtle design difference can be crucial to playability while maintaining the core DNA behind a specific spec range. Many jokes have been made about Head's seemingly never-ending racket lineup, but they're all so different, and as someone who loves testing the nuance between different rackets, it is a pleasure to play with all of Head's frames.