In this review, i'll be comparing the Nittaku
Narucross Ex Hard 2.2mm to Joola Express Two 2.0mm, as FH rubbers.
For a while now, i've been playing with
Express, on both sides of my blade. I feel that Express 1, on an all
wood blade like W-6, serves me best as a BH rubber, and i still feel
this way. Blocking and counter-hitting is a breeze, and sharp/flat loops
down the BH line have become so much easier.
The Express 2, in the FH, also provided
me with incredible stability in terms of blocking and counter-hitting.
Express is by far the best rubber i've tried for this, no doubt. Both
rubbers are incredible for short-play because of their hardness.
However, when being forced around the
court, to the point where you need to stretch yourself to your limits to
reach a ball, i was finding it hard to perform FH loops that weren't
simply acts of desperation, but would allow me to get back into the
point with a decent trajectory and lots of spin. Because of the
speed/elasticity/hardness of the express, performing loops from that
angle became extremely hard. So i began looking for something else that
would allow me to improve that part of my game, well knowing that i'd be
sacrificing some consistency in blocking/counter-hitting.
Nittaku Narucross Ex Hard 2.2mm:
I'm usually not a big fan of 2,2mm
sponges, but i found this lying around at my local TT-store, and i
couldn't stand for it lying there by it's lonesome. (I also got a sheet
of Renaros Bright 2.2mm, that i'll be testing at some point).
Topsheet - excellent quality. The
tackiest new-tech rubber i've tried/seen. The nittaku protective sheet
almost appeared to be wet, when i applied it to the rubber.
The pips aren't immediately visible like they are on certain other
rubbers, because it's tackier.
Rolling the ball around on the surface,
you can feel the friction. Bouncing the ball, you can feel the crispy
innards begging to come into play. Even at 2,2mm, you sense that it's
somewhat slower than the Express 2 2mm, but the Express is by nature
more explosive. Didn't come as a surprise to me.
Hardness - It feels about the same as the
How does it play?
Blocking/counterhitting - The first thing
i wanted to do, was to test it against the Express 2, because it's so
brilliant at 2mm. The narucross seemed to lack the same crisp and
consistent bounce, but it's by no means shabby. It keeps you on your
toes because of the 2.2mm sponge combined with the hardness. You need to
be a bit more active in your strokes which begs precision in execution.
It's still a great blocking/counter-hitting rubber, and i'm definately
going to keep it for further testing.
Looping - This is where it gets
interesting. Brush looping is easier due to the tackier topsheet and
slightly slower speed. Getting some crazy spinny angles on your FH loops
is easier aswell, because of the exact same criteria. It seems to prefer
a chinese style of looping. I was able to squeezy some power out of my
loops that i didn't have the confidence to do with the Express, which
isn't as forgiving. Narucross now offers me some increased stability in
When chasing those balls at crazy angles,
as i mentioned was one of my goals for this rubber, i was able , in full
stretch, to put the ball back on the table with lots of spin and low
trajectory, allowing me time to get back into the points. Big thumbs up.
Counter-looping - Excellent. There's alot
of control in this rubber away from the table, i feel. Decent speed
coupled with great spin and control will have you putting balls on the
table for a long time. Counter-looping away from the table is mostly
about keeping the ball in play, and the narucross offered some great
improvements over the Express Two, i felt. Close to the table, i still
feel the Express Two has the edge.
Smashing - As i've said earlier, it's a
bit slower than the express, but it still packs quite a punch. I do
prefer to twiddle my blade and smash with the more seemingly more
powerful Express 1.
This one i'm keeping. On an all wood
blade it provides some excellent play in every aspect of the game, while
not being overly fast/bouncy. Adjusting to a more chinese style of
looping, i felt it provided me with faster loops than ever. On odd
angles, it provided me with a weapon to get back into the points.
Hardness/speed allows for spinny and short services. I'll have to do
some more testing, but right now i have nothing negative to say about
it. Since it's made in germany, there may be durability issues but i'll
get to that.
It didn't quite stack up to Express 2 in
terms of blocking/counter hitting, but what's the difference between
brilliant and more brilliant? It's not much.
zrrbiteDK, OOAK forum: