Look out tennis world, there is a new shoe in town the NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero! Nike has always been a key innovator when it comes to tennis shoes, but the development of the Zoom Zero takes innovation to a new level. Key modifications have been made to this shoe allowing players of all levels to get exceptional responsiveness and feel with an intriguing new design. This shoe features Nike’s first full-length Zoom Air unit, a one-piece textile upper and half bootie construction giving players a similar feel to running shoes. Being a fan of this monster brand for so long, we were eager to get these shoes up and running on the court.
To the left is Frances Tiafoe at the 2018 US Open with the NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero tennis shoes and Nike apparel (Aug. 29, 2018 – Source: Al Bello/Getty Images North America)
I felt the Zoom Zero was more comfortable than the Vapor X, Zoom Cage, and the Zoom Ultra React. There are undeniable similarities to the leading running shoes on the market, though there is more cushioning in the forefoot of the Zeros. Though most running shoes do not offer good lateral stability, The Zoom Zero offers strong stability from the heel to the toe. The full Zoom Air unit does a nice job in providing plenty of bounce on the court allowing you to stay on your toes without feeling off balance. The contours really allow you to make quick side-to-side cuts and feel perfectly stable.
Illustration of new NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero Tennis Shoes (July 16, 2018 – Source: Matthew DeAlmeida/Nike)
The Zoom Zero willed me to try and track down every ball. When my heel hit the court, the shoe seems to propel me forward, as if to give me a nudge in the right direction. Though there is a slight adjustment period, I still felt balanced and in control of my movements on the court. When I first laid eyes on the shoes, I thought the outsole seemed bulky and might be a bit cumbersome. Once I had them on my feet, they didn’t seem any bulkier or wider than most of the top shoes on the market. Another huge advantage of the Zero was noticeable when moving at aggressive angles to cut floating balls off early, or when desperately defending from an attacking opponent. Most court shoes are fine when running east, west, north or south, but a true test of a shoes metal is the ability to change direction and speed confidently.
The fit is very unique and unlike any tennis shoe on the market. The half bootie fits into the one-piece textile upper that makes it feel like one unit. This makes it a little difficult to put on, but fairly soft once your foot is inside the shoe. There is not a lot of wasted space inside and my foot felt supported by the comfortably snug fit. The toe box offers a bit more room than the Vapor X, so my toes didn’t feel scrunched together. The ankle and heel have a closer fit thanks to the bootie construction which helped my feet feel more secure in the shoe. Breathability was pretty good somewhere in between the Cage 3 and the Ultra React. The shoe does a nice job in preventing outside heat from getting in and providing some ventilation.
Though there is no outsole warrantee, but the Zoom Zero is armored to take a beating. The shoe looks gorgeous initially and they are designed for players who take pride in well-worn shoes that have been through a battle or two. Even after about a month of playtesting I still had plenty of traction around the court. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the forefoot stood up against my toe dragging. The rubber and outsole material wrap over the toes can withstand quite a beating before showing any marks. If you are the type of dynamic mover that skids, slides, and drags their toes, then the Zoom Zero is just right for you.
Overall, the Zoom Zero is a worthy addition to the Nike catalog. We would recommend any fan of Nike tennis shoes to try the Zoom Zeros. Though they aren’t the lightest tennis shoes on the market, the Zoom Zeros offer excellent stability, cushion, and energy return in a light to medium weight package.
Play Tester: Sam Jones
Weight: 192 lbs
Background: I was a 4 year member of the Southwestern University Men’s Tennis Team (2001-2005), and served as a team captain during my junior and senior seasons. After achieving All-SCAC status my senior year, I began a 10+ year coaching career. I became certified as a USRSA Master Racquet Technician in 2011. I have always been fascinated by new string and racquet technologies, and how they can help players improve their games and avoid injury. I continue to play in USTA Leagues and Tournaments at 5.0 NTRP level around the Austin, TX area.