This is the racket that current world number 1 Men's Doubles player Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo uses. Coming off the lackluster experience that I had with the Astrox 77, I wasn't really keen to give this racket a try.
But after a few visits to the store I decided to cast aside the feeling of betrayal lingering from the AX77 and pick up a 4U AX88S with Yonex BG66 Ultimax strung at 29lbs.
What struck me first was the short handle of the racket. The Yonex Astrox 88 Skill is boasted to be 10mm longer the the conventional racket, though I think most of it comes from the shortened wooden grip handle and thus longer shaft and head frame.
As a fan and former collector of Carlton rackets, I am quite fond of the short grip. This allows me greater variety in my swing and the shots come off sharper. Whipping the racket also gives it more power than with a conventional handle.
And so the moment came to take it to the court, and I must say it impresses. Right off the bat I notice the extreme quickness of the racket, wielding it in defense has got to be one of the best feelings. I am able to confidently twist and turn the shuttle away from the attacker and into an advantageous area of the court.
Being a 4U racket the back court smashes kind of takes a hit. I'm getting moderately heavy smashes from the further half, although not as hard as those I'd throw off with a 3U Yonex Nanoray Z-Speed. However, I do notice two things - I'm able to quite the angle on the shots by adding a little wrist pronation, and also the shots are dead on target.
Backhands for this guy are not the most ideal, being a 4U and also strung at such high tension. I suppose I will get better with this racket as time goes.
One last thing before I sign off. There is one particular shot that this racket pulls off amazingly, and that's the cross-court forehand drive (so happens it's my favorite shot). The shuttle comes off it so fast I was left stunned with I first executed the shot with the racket.
So far the Yonex Astrox 88 Skill has been a positive experience. Accuracy and speed seems to be its main stay, but the power I can generate is no small matter either.
Let's get a few more games with this guy before we throw in the review.