The slam down under is an exciting time for us tennis fans.
Not only do we get to watch some of the highest quality tennis of the year, but we also get to see release upon release, upon release, upon release of new gear from the big companies. It feels like tennis companies are trying to break some unofficial record for this year's AO, with most racket and shoe brands releasing multiple top-end and takedown products.
First off, we have some amazing Nike tennis attire making its way to the Melbourne courts during the month of January.
The Australian Open always seems to rep some of the most iconic Nike tennis kits – probably due to the dominance of Nadal and Federer in the last several years. With recent developments, the brand's on-court success could be in jeopardy, but there are no questions as to the quality of their NikeCourt Melbourne Collection design.
Then, we've got the shoe brands, with Asics, New Balance, and Nike all coming out with some splashy new updates.
ASICS into 2023
Novak Djokovic makes his hotly anticipated return to Australia in an attempt to continue his reign of terror at the friendly slam with a brand new shoe: the Asics Court FF 3.
Asics have built on the popular Court FF 2, a supportive and durable shoe that also featured ground-breaking technology in a fairly light profile. It's an exciting redesign of Asics' "experimental" silo that should have many tennis players turning their heads. Asics have looked to maintain all the great stability features of the version 2, while making the upper ever so slightly softer and more natural feeling.
Asics have also decided it's the perfect time to remodel the Resolution. Two new releases at once? Yes, please!
The Gel-Res needs no real introduction; it's Asics' nitty-gritty, classic stability shoe that has been so well modernized it barely resembles its tanky ancestors. The 8 was great as it drastically reduced its predecessor's weight. With the Gel-Resolution 9, Asics have further modernized the shoe's performance in stability and support, emphasizing the give and take between flexibility and rigidity in the modern game.
The 996 V5
The New Balance 996 V3 was… interesting? It didn't fit very well, had an awkward piece of rubber protruding into the forefoot, and got torn to shreds by the most aggressive movers.
So when the V4 came out and was as good as it was, it was quite an achievement. The shoe was comfortable and far more durable, and it became overwhelmingly popular with players craving that natural feel. The New Balance 996 V5 is taking this silo just that little bit farther in terms of performance. New Balance has added significant structure within the actual upper of the 996, which will help it react more quickly to an aggressive players' movement. If you turned away from the V4 and 4.5 because they were a little too flexy, turn back.
The Vapor Comeback
Let's address the elephant in the room: the React Vapor NXT was just a little too different. Maybe if it had gone under a different name or just been a little more "Vapor" in general, it could have been more successful, but the shoe wasn't well received.
For 2023, Nike has listened to the people and is attempting to return to that classic Vapor feel. The shape and cut of the Vapor 11 are reminiscent of the Vapor X, and you'll be stepping back into that ultra-low outsole that provides such a grounded feel. While I grew to appreciate the impressive technological features of the Vapor NXT, I'm just as happy as anyone to say that the Vapor is back!
The original Vapor Pro was the spiritual successor to the Vapor X and a fantastic shoe in its own right. The Vapor Pro 2 builds off that shoe's success while lowering the outsole and softening the slightly awkwardly flexing upper. Time will tell if the takedown dominates the top-end again, but the Vapor Pro 2 will surely be a popular option.
Racket brands also decided to bless us with some amazing new releases for the start of 2023. Here are a couple of exciting options from Head and Yonex.
Head Auxetic Radical
Over the last several years, we've become accustomed to Head's release strategy: develop new technology and slowly trickle it into every silo. The Radical 2023 is Head's newest racket to feature Auxetic tech. Nothing changes externally, as the shape, drill pattern, mold, and specs are all the same. But if we're to expect what we've felt with Auxetic technology in the Extreme, Prestige, Boom, and Speed, it's probably going to turn an already good racket into a great one, thanks to that ever-elusive feel. I'm really looking forward to writing this review later in the week… You try explaining "feel" to someone.
Yonex VCORE V7
The new VCORE V7 looks like a lovechild between the previous version and the infamous SV. I wonder if there's not some expert Yonex marketing behind that decision because those were two very popular versions of the line.
What should we expect from the V7? Yonex has completely redesigned this frame's mold. Keeping with what we've seen on the other two silos, the hoop has gotten thicker, but the beam feels softer. This should make the VCORE V7 more stable, controlled, and comfortable than its predecessor. If the current VCORE Pro and EZONE are any proof to go by, I certainly believe it.
We are living in exciting times. There is an amount of gear being released that will satisfy even the most fervent of tennis nerds. Stay tuned for more in-depth reviews and video analyses in the coming months.
And if you'd like first dibs, visit our Coming Soon Collection and hit notify me for the latest arrivals!