The recent release of the Rafa Origin Tennis Racquet has allowed players to experience the same frame used by Rafael Nadal. Unsurprisingly, the racquet is an absolute beast to play with, weighing in at 11.9 ounces strung. What really sets the Origin apart however is the incredibly high swingweight of 371. While this makes the racquet unsuitable for many club level players, intermediate to advanced players who have the technique and strength to wield it will find that it provides unparalleled stability and plow-through.
The Origin overall performed quite well from the ground, offering amazing plow-through on flat groundstrokes. The high swingweight of the frame gave great access to power but made it difficult to hit heavy spin. I found many of my balls flying longer than I expected because of this, and overall felt that the racquet was not particularly easy to control. When I was just warming up down the middle of the court, it felt fantastic as I had plenty of time to get into position with my feet and initiate my swings. The Rafa Origin felt far better while hitting cooperatively than it did playing out points, however. The heft of the racket made it quite difficult to hit shots when on the run or out of position. I found that footwork and focus was incredibly important when hitting with this frame, as being slightly late or out of position amplified its unwieldy nature.
Volleys The Rafa Origin felt great at the net, offering fantastic stability. The weight of the frame made absorbing big shots a breeze and felt fantastic when closing out easy volleys. The maneuverability was better than I expected, and I did not feel that the weight of the frame was at all a limitation while at net. The stability of the Origin shined on touch volleys as well. Overheads felt very solid when I was in position and hitting the ball early, but I felt that the swingweight of the racquet made hitting overheads out of position relatively difficult.
Serving with this racquet felt good for the most part, though I did struggle to hit heavy spin on my kick serves. Flat serves felt the best as the racket produced easy power and felt very stable through contact. Slice serves also were quite good, but I struggled a fair bit to hit a decent kick serve. Similarly to how I felt about the Rafa Origin off the ground, I felt that the lack of spin and the extreme power resulted in many balls flying longer than I expected them to.
Overall, the Pure Aero Origin was a very enjoyable racquet to hit with. It was an incredibly rewarding racquet to play with when my footwork and timing were on point, but unforgiving when they were not. Though the Rafa Origin is definitely not for everyone, high level players who have strong physical abilities may find that it is exactly what they need to take their games to the next level.