11. Nike Vapor 9 Tour
Year Released: 2012
You may have noticed that this list is not heavy on recent or current product, and that's fair. As always, more information is better, so please feel free to respond with recent product that deserves to make the cut. Generally, though I'm not seeing it. Time marches on, and there is no doubt that tennis footwear technology has advanced exponentially from the 1980s and 1990s. For the most part, however, styling has not. I recently had the opportunity to parlay with a long-time tennis retailer I trust, I asked him what's happening now. He pointed to a plasticine horror show branded Babolat. Damn. I thought they only made griptape. While I have no reason to doubt the technical proficiency of the model he showed me, I'd rather wrap some griptape around my feet (and my neck) and hope for the best. This is definitely NOT the case for Nike's Vapor 9 Tour, Roger Federer's current shoe. The Vapor 9 Tour screams "technical," whispers "light" and then lets you be the judge. There are familiar cues all over the shoe, Air Huarache-style toe overlay (tributed most recently by the Supra Owen), Zoom cushioning branding and what jumped out at me the most-- a cage recalling the 1996 Air Max Tailwind. The cage is positioned as a fit system that uses "fingers" to custom mold the shoe to the wearer's feet. As the foot moves during play, the fit adapts. While the technology is new, the concept is not. The Diadora Borg Elite claimed to have a lacing system that "self-adjusts while you play." Still, this is a very fresh looking shoe, with serious street potential. Wonder who designed them?