About five years ago…
Gamma set out to create a hybrid cross string unlike any the tennis industry has ever seen. FYI: hybrid cross strings are, with some definite exceptions, the soft counterpart to the stiff poly main; their job is to supply the hybrid with comfort, power and touch whereas the polyester main is supposed to deliver control, durability and bite (for spin). The problem Gamma set for itself was this: how could they preserve the traditional properties of a cross string (e.g., comfort, power, feel) while also smuggling in a property that the majority of soft strings aren’t particularly known for, that being low friction or a surface that facilitates the sliding action of the main strings. It should also be noted that Gamma wasn’t looking for the kind of low friction that comes from a silicone application (like many co-polys); rather, they wanted the kind of legit slipperiness that is baked right into the molecular structure (so it doesn’t perish with play). Finding the right substance wasn’t easy, but after years of testing and tweaking, Gamma finally settled on a material from the fluoropolymer family. The name they chose for the string was Glide.
I love the control and spin I get from co-polyester strings. I also love the comfort and feel I get from natural gut. The new V-Fuse hybrid from Volkl aims to bring both to the court in one stringbed by combining Volkl’s Cyclone monofilament and V-Icon natural gut.
I tried this hybrid both ways by switching my choice of main and cross strings. The most conventional hybrid is to put the more durable, in this case the Cyclone, in the mains.
Call me a traditional guy because my preferred setup was to have Cyclone in the mains and V-Icon natural in the crosses. When stringing my racquet, I took a little extra care weaving the natural gut cross string. Stringing the gut in the crosses added a few minutes to my stringing time, but I’m not the world’s fastest stringer so I always try to schedule enough time to not rush. In other words, the few extra minutes stringing were no biggie.
Out on the court, I liked the control and spin I was getting with V-Fuse with the Cyclone in the main strings. If you’ve read some of my other blogs you’ll know about my penchant for low string tensions, and I went as low as 40lbs with this set up. I started at 52lbs in my Volkl Powerbridge 10 Mid, and the string felt very crisp and control oriented. I immediately thought I could get more pop out of the string by lowering the tension. I tried the string again at 48lbs with better results. Curious to see what I could really get from it, I and dropped more dramatically to 40lbs on my next stringing. At 40lbs this hybrid felt very soft and comfortable, and I found the extra power I was seeking and never had to give up any control or feel. It has become one of my favorite strings as the comfort is improved over an all poly setup, yet I still get very good spin and control — especially at low tensions.
By just simply switching the way the strings are oriented made a huge difference with V-Fuse. Putting the gut in the mains made the hybrid feel much livelier. I was also impressed by the control and feel the hybrid offered with the gut in the mains. At low tensions, this setup was not working at all for me. I was losing control at 40lbs and had to put effort into controlling the ball and prevent shots from sailing long. In sharp contrast to having the poly in the mains, 57lbs proved to be my preferred tension with the gut in the mains. I started out at 52lbs and moved my way up (with the exception of trying the string at 40lbs for a couple of weeks). The one downside for me by having the gut in the mains was durability. I just never found close to the durability I found with the Cyclone in the mains.
All in all, I really enjoyed playtesting V-Fuse. When strung with the Cyclone in the mains, V-Fuse has become one of my favorite strings. My best advice would be if you are trying this one after using a full stringbed of poly, don’t up the tension much if at all. With the Cyclone in the mains this hybrid played firmer and crisper than expected.