Out of the packaging, the new A-B-S has a rich mat finish. Dragging a ball over the surface gives little to no frictional resistance. The sponge is also different, in that it’s a light peach and will come in 1.2mm,1.5mm, and 1.8mm. It is very hard and very dead. As for this review, I am using a 1.2mm black version. My current bat configuration is a Harmuth custom blade by Pechniqe.com Off, Anti Special1.2 BH and Tenergy 25 2.1 FH.
On my drop test there is a noticeable difference on ball rebound between A-B-S and the other Anti’s from Dr. Neubauer. The pip structure is much finer and smaller, and the sponge looks to be similar to the pink one of Anti Special, however the color change seems to make it play and feel different. OK- so now for the playing characteristics of this new A-B-S from Neubauer…Truley different!! It is slower and much more controlled. This new rubber has a softer and deader feel, allowing one more liberty in pushing and blocking. In that I mean your angle at contact is less critical and one can have moreforward movement with the blade and still keep the ball on the playing surface. The ball seams to stay low and dies on the opponents side, with a wobble andgimme, causing ones opponent much trouble. Another side note the change to A-B-S was seamless in my play style. On power loops, I could pull the bat back slightly and absorb the energy of the loop, and still keep the ball low and on the table. Loop blocking, stayed low and short over the net with two bounces some of the times on my opponent’s side of the table, not allowing him to re-loop. As for hitting, I was able to attack many balls with success that were pushed and stayed over the table. Serve return is also much easier with more control. Balls stayed low and I could push them very easily to a corner of my choosing.
This new combination of top sheet and sponge has also seemed to help with return oftop spin serves which tended to go long and high, now the ball now stays lowand with strong spin-reversal.Pushing the no-spin balls is also no problem, so long as one has a soft handand keeps their racket angle set.
Chopping with the new A-B-S is also very easy and controlled. The ball stays low and keeps a strong backspin on theball. Due to the deadness of how this rubber plays, one needs to push forwardon chopping balls.In conclusion, I believe that this rubber is 40-45% slower than Gorilla/Grizzly, and more controlled and a bit slower than Anti-Special with as much if not more spin reversal. However here is the best thing, the ball tends to die stop mid air, causing a disruption in your opponents timing. Balls are more unpredictable, and stay low, with a wobble and gimme the dance of death, causing ones opponent much trouble, and requiring your opponent to have very good footwork to get in position to return the next ball. This amazed and bewildered my opponents. Some ball will have no-spin and the next will be loaded. Attacking backspin balls over the net are easy and fast as the sponge is hard. Loop blocks now stay on table and are loaded, requiring a push by your opponent on their next shot.
This rubber is a big but different step to something like a Super Block. As aplayer one needs to have more than just a good block to win. A-B-S will be a great setup to a good forehand winner at higher levels.
- David Pech, OH