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Carlos Alcaraz Garfia Hitting a Forehand at the Miami Open

Carlos Alcaraz’s Racquet, Strings, Grip & More

Gear Guide

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By Jon Crim
Image Credit: Miami Open

One of the ATP tour’s brightest young talents, Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, is a Spanish tennis player whose breakout success in 2022 has inspired fans and fellow athletes worldwide.

Only four years after joining the pro tour in 2018, Carlos won his first Grand Slam at the US Open in 2022 and simultaneously became the youngest world No. 1 at 19 years old, cementing his place as the world’s best with his entire career ahead of him.

Although Carlos’ talent is unmistakable, his gear plays a vital role in his success, complementing his style of play. This guide explores all of the intricacies of his equipment that help drive his performance so you can learn if it’s a good fit for you.

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Racquet

When talking about Carlos Alcaraz’s tennis racquet, there are two frames to consider, the one he endorses based on his sponsorship and the one he actually uses. We’ll look at each individually so you can understand the differences.

Endorsed Racquet

Babolat Pure Aero Racquet

When a tennis brand sponsors a player, they’re paying for them to endorse a specific racquet that they hope will drive sales.

However, frequently it’s not the exact racquet or specifications of the racquet they’re actually using. Instead, the player will use a different racquet painted to look like the model they’re endorsing.

One of the main reasons this happens is because professional tennis players don’t switch racquets often, so the best way for a brand like Babolat to maintain the endorsement with a player is to make their old racquet look like the new one.

That’s the case with Carlos Alcaraz, who endorses the Babolat Pure Aero but uses a different racquet that will discuss in the next section. Here are the strung specs for the Babolat Pure Aero 2023.

Babolat Pure AeroSpec
Head Size100 in² / 645.2 cm²
Length27 in / 68.6 cm
Strung Weight11.2 oz / 318 g
Balance4 pts HL
Swingweight322
Stiffness65
Beam Width23 mm / 26 mm / 23 mm
String Pattern16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension50 – 59 lbs (22.7 – 26.8 kg)

The Babolat Pure Aero is a fantastic tennis racquet that’s stiffer, offering high levels of power and spin with an open 16×19 string pattern ideally suited for baseliners who swing big to generate the topspin required for maximum control with the racquet.

It doesn’t offer the best comfort or feel, especially paired with a low-powered polyester tennis string, but it’s an excellent option for players with healthy arms and an appetite for hitting big.

The Babolat Pure Aero is one of my picks for the best racquets on the market, so it’s a worthy option to consider.

Actual Racquet

Babolat Pure Aero VS Racquet

Often, top players use a customized version of an older tennis racquet model that’s no longer for sale, referred to as a pro stock racquet that the manufacturer creates specifically for the player.

In the case of Carlos Alcaraz, he uses the stock Babolat Pure Aero VS, the same one you can purchase at any major retailer and released in 2020. This racquet is the evolution of the Aero Storm, which Babolat initially released in 2007.

Here are the strung specs of the Babolat Pure Aero VS.

Babolat Pure Aero VSSpec
Head Size98 in² / 632.3 cm²
Length27 in / 68.6 cm
Strung Weight11.3 oz / 320 g (exact unknown)
Balance6 pts HL (exact unknown)
Swingweight321 (exact unknown)
Stiffness67
Beam Width21 mm / 23 mm / 22 mm
String Pattern16 Mains / 20 Crosses
String Tension50 – 59 lbs (22.7 – 26.8 kg)

It’s important to note that Carlos or a tour stringer who’s handled his racquet or measured its specs hasn’t confirmed the racquet’s weight, swingweight, or balance, so many fans and players remain unconvinced.

The main reason for speculation about him using the stock version of the Aero VS is the frame’s lighter weight for a professional tennis player at only 11.3 oz (320 g) strung.

A racquet’s weight plays a significant role in its stability, so there’s a belief that this weight isn’t enough to handle the power he deals with competing against the world’s best players.

However, a counterargument is that his fast swinging style of play that relies heavily on topspin is ideally suited for the frame’s lighter weight, which makes it highly maneuverable. Paired with a smaller head size and tighter string pattern, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the lighter weight is more than sufficient.

With that said, the exact specs remain unknown for now, so I’ll update this resource if more information becomes available.

Pure Aero vs. Pure Aero VS

Coming from the same family of tennis racquets, the Babolat Pure Aero and Pure Aero VS exhibit similar playing characteristics, but they have distinct differences.

Notably, the Pure Aero VS has a smaller 98 in² (632 cm²) head size, thinner beam, and a tighter 16×20 string pattern, which combine to scale back the racquet’s power and enhance its control and precision, which is why Carlos uses it.

Overall, Babolat designed the Pure Aero VS for a more advanced player who demands added control. At the same time, the more approachable Pure Aero caters to a wide range of players, from improving beginners to advanced, especially when customized.

Babolat Since 10 Years Old

According to Babolat, Carlos first signed with the brand when he was ten years old, initially using the Babolat Pure Aero before switching to the Pure Aero VS in 2021.

However, if you look back far enough, a few images of him online show he used to play with a Head Speed tennis racquet before transitioning to Babolat. Considering his success, it’s unlikely he’ll ever use another racquet brand during his career.

Strings

A Package of Babolat RPM Blast 16 Gauge 1.30mm Black

Carlos Alcaraz pairs 16 gauge or 1.30 mm Babolat RPM Blast with the Pure Aero VS to help maximize spin and control, which is a shaped polyester tennis string designed for use with the racquet.

Babolat RPM BlastSpec
Gauge16 / 1.30mm
Length40 ft / 12 m
CompositionCo-polyester Monofilament
ColorBlack

For tension, Carlos strings the mains at 55 lbs (24.9 kg) and the crosses at 53 lbs (24.0 kg) – the slight variation in tension aids string movement for added spin. In some cases, he’ll drop the tension of the crosses further to 51 lbs (23.1 kg), depending on the conditions.

Babolat RPM Blast is a hugely popular tennis string with a success that we can broadly attribute to Rafael Nadal, who has used it for most of his career, starting in 2010.

As far as downsides go, the string is stiff and lacks power and comfort, with poor tension maintenance that requires players to replace it frequently for optimal performance.

Overall, it’s my pick for one of the best tennis strings, so it’s well worth exploring if these attributes resonate with you.

Vibration Dampener

Many players on tour use vibration dampeners, which are small rubber or plastic devices installed within the strings to modify the racquet’s feel and sound.

Carlos Alcaraz does not use a vibration dampener of any kind, but if you look back far enough, you will see that he used one when he was younger.

If you’re looking for a quality dampener, you can check out the one I created or learn more about vibration dampeners.

Grip

Packages of Babolat Leather Replacement Grip and Babolat VS Original Overgrip

There are a few different elements of Carlos Alcaraz’s grip, including its size, the replacement and overgrip he wraps the handle of his racquet with, and how he holds the racquet when hitting a forehand and backhand.

Size

Carlos Alcaraz uses a 4 1/2 inch grip, which equates to a size 4, and is typical for men on the pro tour. While there are rough measurements players can use to decide on an appropriate grip size, it ultimately boils down to personal preference.

Here’s a table outlining all racquet grip sizes for reference.

SizeInchesMillimeters
03 3/898
04102
14 1/8105
24 1/4108
34 3/8111
44 1/2114
54 5/8118
64 3/4121

Replacement & Overgrip

Carlos Alcaraz uses a leather Babolat grip wrapped around the base of his racquet’s handle with a white Babolat VS Original overgrip on top for maximum feel.

The leather grip is applied directly to the handle and called a replacement grip, while the overgrip wraps over the top of the leather grip for moisture control, a softer feel, and a tacky finish.

The VS Original overgrips from Babolat add 0.43 mm to the handle’s thickness and 3.7 grams to the racquet’s weight.

Forehand Grip

Carlos Alcaraz uses a semi-western forehand grip, which plays a significant role in his ability to hit with topspin and is the most common grip used by ATP and WTA players.

As a right-handed player, Carlos places the palm side of his index finger’s knuckle against the fourth bevel of his racquet’s handle to form a semi-western grip.

Backhand Grip

Carlos uses a standard two-handed backhand grip, enabling him to generate significant power and control.

Like his forehand, the two-handed backhand grip is one of the most commonly used by players of all ages and levels.

Shoes

Nike Air Zoom Vapor Pro in Black

Speed is one of Carlos’ trademark assets, which makes him an incredible defender who never gives up on a point.

To help him move around the court, he relies on the Nike Air Zoom Vapor Pro, a lightweight performance shoe that weighs only 12.9 ounces or 366 grams. It’s a highly responsive shoe that delivers excellent traction and rides close to the ground thanks to the low-profile cushion of a Zoom Air unit in the heel.

However, the shoe isn’t perfect. The Nike Air Zoom Vapor Pro’s main drawbacks are comfort and durability, so if either is a high priority, you’ll likely want to look elsewhere. A great place to start is my guide to the best shoes.

Bag

Babolat Pure Aero 12 Pack and Nike Medium Duffle Bag

Pros like Carlos Alcaraz rely heavily on their tennis bags to carry everything they need to survive a long five-set tennis match, so it’s not surprising he uses the Babolat Pure Aero 12-pack bag.

With three main compartments, a dedicated shoe compartment, and plenty of smaller pockets for organization, it’s an ideal companion for carrying several racquets and any extra gear and fuel Carlos needs to compete.

However, Carlos also carries a medium size Nike duffle bag with him on the court, which provides more than enough space for a few changes of clothes and an extra pair of shoes.

Apparel

Nike Logo

Nike sponsors Carlos Alcaraz, so everything he wears from head to toe comes from the sports giant.

Most major apparel brands change their gear up throughout the year for players, so you’ll see Carlos sporting a new kit that often drops with each Grand Slam of the year.

Essentials that you’ll find him wearing from Nike include a shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, and wristbands. Carlos doesn’t wear a hat or a headband, which are relatively common on tour.

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