In honor of Wimbledon 2017 and the GOAT, Roger Federer, I decided to dig in my closet and pull out my favorite tennis shoe of all time and why it beats out the popular choices of today, the Nike Zoom Vapor 9 and Adidas Barricade. Although also in honor of Fed, I’ll get a review up of the Zoom Vapor 9 soon.
Pros: traction, amazing Zoom, fit, support and stability, containment, way ahead of its time
Cons: No longer in production, nearly impossible to find anywhere.
Sizing: true to size although they run tight
Best for: tennis players and basketball players looking for an excellent outdoor option
I present to the greatest tennis shoe of all time, the Nike Air Court Zoom Implosion Mid.
The Implosion came out in the early 2000’s I believe, just when Federer was just becoming Federer and when Agassi was exiting the stage and winding down his career.
It wasn’t a sig shoe but everybody wore them. Upon examining them today, Nike really was ahead of its time and pulled out all the stops for this shoe.
Unbelievable traction with good ol full length herringbone. Granted, tennis shoes don’t really play around with story telling because it’s about taking care of business not cute graphics.
I always get asked what shoes would be good for outdoor hoops and to be honest, tennis shoes would be ideal. The rubber on tennis shoe are made for hard courts (outdoor) use, are made of XDR or something similar, and usually have an outsole wear warranty. This means if you burn through the outsole, you can return them for a replacement ( Try doing that with a basketball shoe). Also tennis movements are similar to basketball so the same needs are covered with a tennis shoe except maybe cushioning since there is less jumping.
REAL BOUNCY RESPONSIVE ZOOM AIR in both the heel and forefoot. These rival the Zoom in my Soldier VI but in a lower profile. I put these on today and couldn’t believe how good they felt compared to Federer’s shoe, the Zoom Vapor 9 which also features ” Zoom”. Many people think the Vapor 9 is the best tennis shoe out now but it isn’t even close between these two shoes especially in terms of cushioning.
Mesh upper with a thermoplastic “cage” on top for lockdown and containment
A mesh upper on a tennis shoe makes almost zero sense since there is a lot of toe dragging on a hard court so mesh would be susceptible to wear and tear. Nike actually thought of everything and used that thermoplastic compound to keep the foot locked in and to keep high wear areas, like the toe box, from wearing down.
It’s a lot like the Shox Stunner which came out around the same time.
The end result is perfect lockdown front to back, top to bottom and side to side.
Support and Stability
Built low to the ground, the Implosion is extremely stable and will not tip over. Mid cuts in tennis are rare and I have no idea why. Just a great stable shoe.
Excellent containment even though the upper is mesh. The thermoplastic cage helps with containment but the real reason for the excellent containment is the plastic “rails” that are hidden on the shoes’ interior.
All that extra height and coverage keeps the foot locked in on hard slides and direction changes. If only Nike and Brandblack would incorporate this into their mesh and woven uppers…
I’ve searched high and low for another pair of these and they are pretty much impossible to find. But after a six or seven YEAR search I found one in my size this past month.
Nike was way ahead of the game back in the early 2000’s. Even if they retro these, I’m 99% sure it won’t feel like the original. This was such an under the radar shoe that didn’t get a bunch of hype but damn it performed like a beast.