General Tennis

Are One Handed Backhand Grand Slam Champions Dying Out?

With Stanislas Wawrinka's win at the Australian Open last weekend it meant he was the first person with a one handed backhand, aside from Roger Federer, since Gaston Gaudio in 2004 to win a Grand Slam. That's bad news if you're a fan of perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing shot in the game, so does it have a future? Can #Stanimal's win revive it?

I thought I'd look at all the Grand Slam Champions in the Open Era (Post 1968) and see whether or not the one handed backhand is in fact dying out. Two players have obviously contributed significantly to the one handed backhand's success over the last 20 years, Federer & Sampras, winning 31 slams between them but other than those two players is the one hander slowly becoming a thing of the past? Lets take a look….

Slam winners by backhand type in the Open Era

Backhand Type Number of Different Slam Winners in the Open Era Total Number of Grand Slams Won % of Overall Slams
One Handed Backhand 34 110 59.8%
Two Handed Backhand 19 74 40.2%

One Handed Slam Winners

Roger Federer x 17
Pete Sampras x 14
Ivan Lendl x 8
John McEnroe x 7
Stefan Edberg x 6
Boris Becker x 6
Rod Laver x 5
John Newcombe x 5
Ken Rosewall x 4
Guillermo Vilas x 4
Arthur Ashe x 3
Gustavo Kuerten x 3
Petr Korda x 3
Johan Kriek x 2
Ilie Năstase x 2
Stan Smith x 2
Patrick Rafter x 2
Mark Edmondson x 1
Roscoe Tanner x 1
Vitas Gerulaitis x 1
Brian Teacher x 1
Stanislas Wawrinka x 1
Jan Kodeš x 1
Andrés Gimeno x 1
Adriano Panatta x 1
Yannick Noah x 1
Andrés Gómez x 1
Thomas Muster x 1
Albert Costa x 1
Gastón Gaudio x 1
Pat Cash x 1
Michael Stich x 1
Richard Krajicek x 1
Manuel Orantes x 1

Two Handed Slam Winners

Rafael Nadal x 13
Björn Borg x 11
Jimmy Connors x 8
Andre Agassi x 8
Mats Wilander x 7
Novak Djokovic x 6
Jim Courier x 4
Yevgeny Kafelnikov x 2
Marat Safin x 2
Sergi Bruguera x 2
Lleyton Hewitt x 2
Andy Murray x 2
Thomas Johansson x 1
Michael Chang x 1
Carlos Moyá x 1
Juan Carlos Ferrero x 1
Goran Ivanišević x 1
Andy Roddick x 1
Juan Martín del Potro x 1

So from the above table since 1968 there have been 34 different players with a 1 handed backhand to win a Grand Slam and they account for 110 Grand Slam titles between them. Or put simply 60% of all Grand Slams since 1968 until the Australian Open 2014 have been won by players with a single handed backhand. Quite dominant you might think at first glance however since the late 90's and onwards there's been quite a shift, check the graphs and tables below:

How do Grand Slam winner backhand types differ by decade since 1968?

The 60's, 70's, 80's and to some extent the 90's were the really golden era for single handers, and it's clear to see why really; 3 of the 4 slams were played on grass and the courts were extremely fast back then. The surfaces of old are much more conducive to first strike tennis rather than consistency being king and that's where the single hander comes into its own.

In fact it was only really Connors and Borg who utilised a 2 hander with any sort of success at Grand Slam level prior to mid 90's, without those two guys, who won 19 slams in total between them during the 70's and 80's, the 2 hander would have barely got a look in.

How do things shape up post 2000?

Slam Winner by Backhand Type 2000-2014
Number of different Slam Winners in the Open Era Total Number of Grand Slams Won % of Overall Slams
One Handed Backhand 6 24 42.10%
Two Handed Backhand 11 33 57.90%

Post 2000 is when we begin to see a big shift, the likes of Safin, Roddick, Hewitt and to some extent Agassi really kicked things off for the 2 handed brigade and then of course we entered the Nadal / Djokovic era after Federer put on a revival from 2003 to around 2010. In fact without Roger's 17 slams, one-handed players would have only accounted for 7 Grand Slams in 14 years; a complete reversal from the first 40 years of Open Era tennis.

Why are there more 2 handed backhanded players than ever before?

Djokovic 2 Handed Backhand

So post 2000 we've had an influx of 2 handed backhand players and that's definitely going to continue into the future – because a.) that shot is suited to slow, high bouncing courts and b.) juniors just getting started are far more exposed to double handers so they are likely to replicate that shot themselves.

Kids always copy, and everyone loves a winner so they are naturally going to opt for 2 handed backhands because that's the norm in this era. With virtually no one-handers winning Grand Slam trophies, fewer one-handers are being emulated by juniors. And if fewer one-handed backhands are being copied, fewer of them will be used by players winning slams in the future.

I also think coaches are opting to coach the 2 hander over the 1 hander because they now believe it's the “right” shot. Not sure I agree with that but I have seen it happening first hand

It's not much better on the womens side of things either to be honest, with only Justine Henin and Francesca Schiavone the only women with one-handers in the last six years to win Grand Slam titles. And currently there is only one woman ranked in the Top 20 with a 1 hander, 30-year-old Roberta Vinci. Ouch.

I guess we can hope Wawrinka's win will have inspired some kids to try the shot after they saw him win the AO, after all it's by far the most pleasing on the eye but he'll need to be a factor in all the Slams for his appeal to really kick on.

Will the one-handed backhand die out or be condemned to the seniors tour?

Edberg Backhand
Edberg Backhand – One of the finest shots of all time

With the way things are going the one handed backhand might be a shot that's only used by some of the legends that are still playing on the exhibition and seniors circuit. In fact apart from Dimitrov every player in the top 30 on the ATP World Tour who uses a one-hander is at least 26 years old. It's a shot that seems only to be used by the aging generation and many of those guys will soon retire. Not good.

Speaking of some old legends of the sport it's World Tennis Day on 3rd of March this year and the ITF have expanded their celebrations to London by putting on an event at Earl's Court. It features Sampras, Lendl, Agassi and Pat Cash so there's 3 guys out of 4 all with solid 1 handers that are great to watch and hey Agassi is a pretty decent ball striker too. I did have tickets for this event but due to another commitment, I can't make it any longer. I've put them up here for sale – http://www.stubhub.co.uk/world-tennis-day-showdown-tickets/ so check them out if you are interested, you won't specifically get mine I don't think but there's quite a few left starting at as little as £40. Check it out if you are interested.

So will the one hander die out? Well effectively from 2015 onwards it's likely Dimitrov will be the only player with a one-hander with the capability to win a Grand Slam and even then there are question marks about how good he will be. Come 2016-17 there may not even be any one handed players in the top 50.

Backhand Porn

What do you guys think? Will the shot cease to exist at the top level? What further analysis would you recommend? All contributions welcome…

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Federer and tennis in general.

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71 Comments

    1. Oh no disagree! If you watch the Porn video you will see evidence that Shbh much more difficult to read! Much easier to change the shot! Much harder to disguise the 2 hander!

    2. Indeed, no way a 2 hander is easier to disguise. One handed is much more versatile. To play a drop shot with a 2 hander you have to take a hand off the racquet.

      Google Djokovic drop shot collections lol, I doubt there’s any and if there are there won’t be many outright winners!

    3. Single handed backhand wayyy easier to disguise… safer shot? yes. more control? Probably. disguise? No way. And two handed does not give more power than single.

      1. Hi Jonathan
        I never really got into a conversation but ive been following your website like forever.
        to answer your question: both. 🙂
        ohb is such a pretty shot- its sad to see it disappear

  1. I think, as you implied in your write-up, it’s going to depend on court speeds. They slowed them down because viewers (ie revenue dollars) often found it boring to watch matches in which many, many points – even entire games – were “Monster serve, Ace. Monster serve, Ace. Monster serve, Ace.” Now in my opinion they’ve slowed them down too far, and they’re risking losing revenue dollars because – in spite of what “they” say – actual tennis fans find it boring to watch protracted slugfests, and we’re getting the same problem of too few winners at the other end of the fast-slow spectrum. (Although they still seem to be getting people in the stands to watch those slugfests. It might take empty seats to actually make the point. And to be fair, even a Nole/Rafa slugathon has got some individual wonderful shots in it. Just not enough to make me want to watch the whole match instead of the highlight reel.)

    Look what happened in Australia: the speed was increased just a bit – so little that some were sure it wasn’t increased at all – and we got a brand new Slam winner.

    If some of the venues start making courts faster again – not crazy fast, not over-swinging the pendulum back the other way – it’s possible we might get to see actual SHOTMAKING rewarded again, and that, I think, besides being a huge win for tennis in general, would encourage the use of the one-handed backhand.

    I also think that there will be an effect from youngsters wanting to emulate the players themselves. If Roger is your hero, aren’t you going to want a one-handed backhand? Obviously this effect will diminish when (if) the decrease in active players who have the shot continues.

    1. Not sure its that straight forward. The 2 hander grew slowly and now dominates. So if they changed court speed tomorrow you’re not suddenly going to see an influx of 1 handed backhands. It will be a process and could take 20 years. Also if there are no 1 handed players plus coaches preferring 2. How will it get picked up?

      As I pointed out in the article there’s only 1 player under 26 in the top 30 with a 1 handed backhand. There’s very few coming through.

      Fed is highly unlikely to pick up young fans these days. He’s not winning as much so is far less on the radar of da youth.

      1. I thought there were a certain DC tie going on between Serbia and Switzerland right now. But I could be mistaken.

      2. Of course you’re right about its being a gradual process, though I hadn’t thought about its taking 20 years – it could do though I suppose. And I wasn’t really thinking about current 8 year olds looking up to Fed – more like current 12-15 year olds. Hm – that does leave not much time to improve the one-hander’s image, doesn’t it?

        Of course we don’t really know – reality always includes some unforeseen elements (how is that possible? 😉 ), so I guess we’ll just have to wait & see.

      3. I don’t why you use the crowds in US-GB as a measure of DC interest. I’m American and I don’t have any interest in that tie because of the players involved, not DC itself. I’m not Swiss and I very interested in their tie because Federer. If he wasn’t playing, sure I wouldn’t be as interested. Also to hit with one-handed backhanded it takes a certain amount skill and patience. Todays players don’t have either. The way you whine about Federer’s backhand, I wouldn’t play with single-hander either. Federer backhand is confidence shot. Murray tries to go Federer’s backhand in GS play and gets burned. You may disappointed in Federer losing to Nadal, but I would have been disappointed if he had lost to Murray. You should have seen all the excuses coming out of that POS fanbase. Murray got burned once again by underestimating Federer because of his age.

      4. U r right there Jonathan. For the kids in Uk, it’s all about Murray and then Nadal. Fed is almost another generation behind.

      5. @Kfedfan DC in general is a low interest event IMO. Look at Fed’s participation in it over the years, he is the most level headed and common sense guy on tour, and has chosen to put it to the bottom of the pile. And I completely agree with him. It’s a knock about tournament with your mates. Really the only ones who take it ultra serious are the players who are scared of being shot should they not give 100%.

        And who is whining about Fed’s BH? lol. It’s a great shot.

        @Susie Yeah any young kids I see playing are trying to emulate Dull and Murray. Fed is an afterthought for the young kids. I put it down mainly to the younger generation mainly being brain dead zombies that they can’t appreciate the GOAT’s tennis.

        @Pablo – Matter of opinion but I disagree. In terms of carnival atmosphere full of part time tennis fans banging together inflatable clangers and screaming constantly for players they don’t even watch normally, then yes, it’s the best atmosphere if you like that sort of thing. Loudest doesn’t mean best though.

        For me however the best atmosphere is when it’s mainly pure tennis fans in the crowd and 2 guys are facing each other with a lot on the line. I think you are hard pushed to find a better atmosphere than Fed vs. Murray at the o2 in 2012. It was electric that night.

      6. “For me however the best atmosphere is when it’s mainly pure tennis fans in the crowd and 2 guys are facing each other with a lot on the line”.
        A lot in the line in the Masters?? Pure Marketing.

      7. Yeah I agree actually o2 is a bad example in that regard, not hugely important in terms of on the line. The Fed Murray match just sprang to mind when I was thinking of atmospheres as it really was pulsating that night.

        Fed vs. Djoker at FO, Djok vs Stan at AO 2013 are better examples of when it matters. Those are far better atmospheres than DC.

      8. Probably you haven’t seen a DC Final with 26000 people 🙂 . Trust me, there is a lot in the line when they feel the pressure of such an event like this.

      9. Welcome back, Pablo.

        I wonder if DC naturally has more support among countries where World Cup is already a national event, and where the country is usually among the top teams?

    2. Nice words Jon and Thinker, I agree with everything you guys said, the game is becoming more ugly with the lack of single handers and that is directly linked to the speed of the courts.
      We don’t want all courts ton faster, we just want a bit of everything, a mix with varied courts and differents champions over the year, because tennis is becoming too one dimensional with the same guys winning every week, all the courts playing the same every week. That’s what the game needs, that’s what the game is all about, variation.

      1. Wouldn’t that be a scream? Maybe you could have a “novelty surface”. Blue clay anyone? Hehe. Of course the big names might just refuse to play on them…

  2. I am a junior player and i have more ability at any position on the court to rip a one handed backhand, more than a two hander. Even in a cross court rally, i can create more of an angle without sacrificing power so much. My racquet is the Prostaff 95 (2013) with a leather grip and lead at 3 and 9 o clock. Weighing 12.1 oz strung, a mile heavier than any other junior.

    1. The 1 hander is a much more versatile shot and you have longer reach for sure.

      Although sounds like you want a heavier racquet just to say that it’s heavier than any other player your age. I wouldn’t get wrapped up in that kinda thing, play with what gives you the most consistency and power. Only takes a few high backhands to get tired and then you’re losing to a consistent baseliner all day long.

    2. Thanks for your input Nick, good to hear from someone who actually IS one of those younger players we were talking about. You didn’t tell us, though, and I’d love to know, to see if our thinking is along the right lines – how old are you, and which active player do you most look up to? (ok, I also want to know, and why?, but leave that off if you must…)

      1. Well to Jonathan, the reason i use a heavier racquet is because of my swing speed. Im 14 and i dont find all the trouble with high balls, im only 5’9″, so its not like im super tall to just hit it. I really like and follow Fed, Dimitrov, Haas, Del Potro. The reason being is that they have a real talent in them, like you can teach a volley, but what you cant teach is how they can finesse that volley. They have a true talent, someone like berdych mostly relies on outpowering by swinging harder. Del Potro does it so he outpowers you by making you under pressure, not just power, power, power. I do use an eastern forehand and Ive been told that i do show signs that i am like the fed, grigor, haas group.

      2. Sounds good man, glad to know you are following Fed, Haas and Dimitrov. Where are you from?

        I’m not a coach and I haven’t seen you play but I know from experience many players use too heavier a racquet for their needs just because they want it to be heavier. I made he same mistake at cricket when I played with a heavier bat.

      3. Thanks for the additional input Nick. I like what you said here “you can teach a volley, but what you cant teach is how they can finesse that volley”, & the fact you said it means there are at least some juniors who are noticing things like that. Best for the season.

    1. It’s good for the fans if they don’t get much tennis in their own backyard I think. In terms of a competition or event I think it’s not really that attractive. None of the big TV players bid on it, surefire sign it’s low in appeal.

  3. Hey, do you reckoned that the influx of double-handed backhands are inversely proportional to the number of guys who play doubles and/or employ the serve-and-volley tactic now?

    Correct me if I’m wrong but a lot more of the top guys played doubles in slams and stuff back then but that’s not the case now. Also if you look at those who are highly regarded as having excellent single-handed backhands, they were also masters at serve-and-volleying (Sampras, Edberg, Becker, etc).

    I haven’t seen anyone who really does a volley or plays at the net with two hands. And nowadays there are 1) not a lot of guys playing singles and doubles, 2) hardly anyone employs S&V, and 3) everyone is more concentrated on being good baseliners. So basically I think all these sort of add up and contribute to the fact that volleying isn’t as imperative to everyone’s repertoires as they once were, as everyone is more concentrated on their baseline games now, or at least that’s what they teach the kids now.

    I hope what I said sort of makes sense and cheers!

    1. Hey Derek,

      Makes perfect sense and yeah I definitely think that’s the case. The death of S+V falls back onto court speed and how all the surfaces are now playing virtually the same. And because the game is now more physical playing doubles at slam level and taking it serious a la McEnroe etc is virtually impossible.

      Jonathan

  4. Growth of 2 hander all about coaching. From sponge ball thru red- yellow ball it’s all about top spin and for Juniors, high net clearance and consistency wins matches, improves their rating and that’s the way the game has gone in the UK! I see it every week at junior tourneys! Endless loopy rallies at red and orange level with an error ending the point. Also no coach teaches a Shbh these days given the baseline dominance of the game. Basically 3 strokes are taught. Serve, FH and dhbh. Only Italy teaches all shots from Junior stage. Also strength plays it’s part as juniors find the dhbh easier to control and hit. Essentially you are hitting a FH as we all know, such is the control from the other hand is coming over the ball.
    Re Davis Cup. Swiss hv a chance to go far this yr, given Draw. Maybe Fed looking at that. He won’t get points from Serbia win though as one of his results which won’t count.

    1. Yeah I see it too, all time I see kids on court they are being coached into clones of each other. I think that’s the wrong way of doing it though, should just roll with what comes to them naturally.

      But coaching techniques not the problem anyway in the UK, it’s the grass roots as a whole, too elitist, too many barriers to entry and no play in schools. Guarantee we produce zero players of note in ~20 years.

    2. Very interesting note about Italy Susie, I hadn’t heard that. I wonder if we can therefore expect to see some high-level players coming out of Italy in the next 10-15 years?

      1. Am keeping an eye on Quinzi who won the boys junior title at Wimbledon in 2013. They hv had one of their best decades in terms of numbers in both women and men recently. Not world beaters but their players def add to the mix!

    3. Hard to say, just because they are coaching 1 handed backhand won’t guarantee success. Maybe if Fognini breaks into the top 10 then it will inspire some people to start playing,

  5. I think it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen in tennis because it’s one of those sports where the environment is changing all the time. Not just court and ball speeds but racquet technology too. It’s not like the old Fosbury Flop in high-jump where someone definitively found a better way of doing it. The gladiatorial battles we see today bore me to tears but some people, especially youngsters, seem to like them. Maybe because they haven’t seen how tennis can be played. It’s moving from a game of skill to a game of physical strength. I hope there are some youngsters out there who are learning the Shbh, otherwise when Fed retires and if Dimitrov doesn’t make it I think I’ll switch off.

    1. I only see it going one way unfortunately and that’s more of the same. Financially I think tennis is doing better than ever, so there’s no need to change it.

      Racquet technology on the whole hasn’t changed since the 80’s, just the string made a big jump so there won’t be many changes in equipment that suddenly make a 1 hander the best option.

      It would need 2 guys to face off in slam finals with 1 handers consistently that has a ton of media coverage, then it might get more kids involved, who naturally pick up a racquet with one hand and don’t get it coached out. But with Dimitrov the only one U26 in top 30 where will he come from?

      I actually think young kids with a lot of talent that have never watched tennis will naturally go for the 1 hander as it’s just a more natural shot. I guess if they are seeing only 2 handers they’ll assume that’s the only way.

      1. Like switching between? Hmm never really see that other than Tsonga sometimes doing it. I don’t think it will be effective. You will end up getting caught in 2 minds.

  6. An excellent topic, loved the porn, thanks Jonathan. All I can say is I would be extremely sad if adventually OHB is disappeared 🙁 Would I have been Fed’s fan in the first place if he was a two hander? Probably not. I ask myself ‘whom do I like to watch plays breathtaking tennis with two hand BH?’ Ah…..? Who would play BH half volley like Fed does, nobody!

    1. Yeah thought you would 😀

      Agreed, 2 hander nowhere near as fun to watch. Even players that aren’t winning big events are still fun to watch due to 1 hander – Kohli etc.

  7. Nice article Johnatan! I believe that the new generation of kids will folow Dimitrov as the future N1 and switch to playing with a one-handed backand.

    I have something to add to the previous tops where we all agreed about ndal`s strategy to fake injuries when loosing matches. I just found this video below from 2008 Masters in Paris (Bersey) where Davidenko was making him look like an amateur and Nadal decided to fake an injury after trailing 5:1 in the result. We already found like double digit examples for his gamesmanship:)

    Here`s the link of spanish news channel.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6hSum3yLeY

    P/S Has anyone notice that all youtube videos from Raf`s loss vs Soderling have been removed and all we can find is a minute cut from the whole match. Same as all the videos where someone acused him in doping….

    1. Well they might, but Dimitrov is not guaranteed to a be future number 1. He is still unproven.

      Good find, hadn’t seen that one before, Kolya used to own Nadal H2H.

  8. One thing about the single hander is that it’s a lot more technical and difficult to master than the double. if you’re late on the ball with a double hander, well, that second hand compensates for that. With the single hander, if you’re not on your front foot and hitting through the ball every single time, you’re starting to play baseball and blasting balls out of the stadium!

    So shbh much harder to master (and that comes from own experience! 😛 )

    1. Guess it very much depends on the player, I could never play a 2 handed backhand, I have tried but just doesn’t work. One hander for me personally much easier to pick up as it just felt right. I have had zero coaching too, just what happened when I picked up a racquet.

      1. I don’t know, it’s just that if you don’t get it right, there’s no compensating as the forearm is not strong enough to change direction etc and still hit forwards. For me the single hander is much more intuitive as well, but I still feel as though the double hander is A LOT more forgiving.

      2. The forearm plays little to no part in playing the backhand though, wrong muscle group.

        So I think a 2 hander will only be more forgiving when the ball bounces above a certain height because then when you only have 1 hand you are using lesser muscles, deltoid, to do all the work.

        So if all courts bounce high, which most of em do, then 2 hander maybe is the more forgiving. Guess that’s the main reason it’s gotten so popular.

      3. If you have to compensate mid swing, you have to use the forearm. Not on the usual swing, that’s what I meant 🙂

        But other than that, I agree with you 🙂

    2. Have only been playing tennis for fun with friends. Started very late, at 12. I tried to play using dhbh for about 20 years. Could never to get it to feel right. One day I just told myself, f..k it, and started to learn the shbh. I have to say, it’s been a long road that really ended when I switched to the Wilson PS90. I can’t say why. Sure, if I only get to play once a week then it sucks anyway but the dh never felt good no matter how much I played.

      I think the shbh is not appreciated for, perhaps, its real value and that is how it forces young kids the value of technique, form, rhythm and timing. Rotate, drop the shoulder, relax the wrist, step into the shot uncoil, open the chest, and do all that at the right time and you’ll get all that free power. Now, imagine what it will do to a kid who discovers how much technique and timing will add to his shots. The skill to time the ball will benefit his FH as well. I don’t think that kids who play dhbh nearly as often will experience that when they so easily can force the racquet head into position when they screw up the timing. You really don’t have that option with a shbh.

      I often count how many shbh players reach the quarter finals and wonder is it really so that 20 years ago, coaches taught 25-30% of the kids to play with the shbh? Currently, 8 shbh among top 20. Admittedly some of them won’t play in two more years. I don’t know, but perhaps that is the question one should answer as a coach: does a kid stand a better chance reaching the top if he wants to play with one or should he be coached to using both hands on the backhand.

      I read that Pete Sampras was told to switch to a SHBH at 14, to make a Wimbledon champion out of him. Seemed to work. Perhaps we should do the opposite today, teach kids to play with the SHBH until 14 (so they learn the value of timing and technique) and then switch them to a DHBH to take better advantage of open stance BH and having the option to correct when they mess up timing.

  9. I think coaches these days teach a two-hander to their students because of the “Nadal effect.” Rafa has shown what damage heavy top spin can do to a one-hander and the double-hander is seen as far more reliable off the ground and the return – which is true. But there are benefits to playing with a one-hander and it’s such a beautiful shot that I hope it doesn’t die out. A one-hander will have a better slice due to using the one hand naturally, and you have more reach. Though a lot of guys like Murray and Djokovic have come to defend very well with one-hand off the BH side when need be.

    I think it’d be a damn shame if the one-hander does die out because Federer, Haas, Gasquet, Wawrinka, Almagro, and past tennis greats like Edberg have shown that the shot is very effective and has its benefits.

    At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters in terms of success which type of backhand you have. To win Slams these days, you NEED a great forehand and fitnes and Stan’s improved forehand and fitnesis arguably the biggest reason why he won the AO.

    1. Yeah I think that definitely plays a part. I would say the vast majority of coaches are useless and just winging their way through it so will just copy what they see anyway 😀

      No one handers on tour would be a damn shame.

    2. Don’t quite agree. To win today you have to be good from both sides. Roger has a good FH but his BH is not that good anymore. Wawrinka has a good BH and when got that beautiful swing of the FH, he started to shake the big guys. Delpo has a fantastic FH but his BH is a little wimpy.

  10. Hi Jonathan. .. when I was younger I used play alot of Tennis through middle and high school I played in competitions and tournaments around Yorkshire. Now am not saying I am the best player but I did win a few tournaments so I was just above an average player. Cut a long story short when I played I could play both single handed back hand or double handed back hand in match and id play a shot which I thought was the best shot in order to win the point. Now I was quite successful with this alternative shot selection. Considering if I could do it, now a person like Federer or other professionals but mainly Fed if practice doing this against Nadal surely with his ammence talent could pull it off. Also to change the pattern of last couple of matches surely he could try this? ??? Anyway it’s just a thought.

    1. No idea man, I’ve never seen anyone do that other than Tsonga use a 1 handed backhand a couple of times. Sounds like it would over complicate things and you could be in two mind with what shot to actually play…

  11. When I first began playing tennis, I started with a single handed backhand. I wanted to copy Federer 😉 My coach wanted me to switch to a double hander, so I did for a few months, but I never liked it at all. The feeling is just uncomfortable and restricted. I think you guys can see that when Roger hits a backhand, it’s so relaxed, fluid compared to when Nadal or Djokovic hits their backhands, it just looks messy and not balanced. I dumped my coach and found one that let me play with a single hander. Ever since, I’ve always used single handed backhand, still developing it and it is capable of hitting down the line winners, cross court ..etc, just not that often, because I still like to hit an inside out forehand most of the time like Roger when I get a chance.

  12. Coaches are teaching juniors the exact same, semi western forehand, 2 handed backhand, smae tactics(hit to opponents backhand), using basically same racquet. It bothers me a lot and i think that there defeidntly will be some more one hander juniors in forthcoming years.

  13. I did forget this, one of my coaches does let me hit my backhand and respects my choice. Thats the kind of coaches we need in todays game. Finding whats right for the player and maximizing it to the highest potential.

  14. Funny talking about the dying out of the shbh shortly after Stan’s big win. 😀 Was his victory a fluke? Why is the two-hander an inherent advantage in the modern game? Nadal imho is the one person single-handedly responsible for the development of this thought-process, because I don’t see any other player who is seen has having such a match-up advantage with a shbh player.

    Stan’s victory was therefore somewhat surprising, since the majority of all followers of tennis thought, that a player with a shbh didn’t stand a chance against Nadal’s top spin FH, especially not in a best of five.

    In truth Nadal has lost to a number of shbh players, including Roger Federer, Blake, Youzhny, Gonzalez, Gaudio, Darcis, Ljubicic, Gilles Muller, Kohlschreiber, Mahut, F. Lopez, Garcia-Lopez, Zeballos…. and now Wawrinka too. 😀

    The single most needed quality in the modern game seems to be consistency off both wings and the twohander is the safer shot. Djokovici has shown that you can beat Nadal by outslugging him, provided you got the stamina. Slow, highbouncing courts and light, big balls favour this kind of defensive play without a question. They make it even harder to get out of the long rallies that favour consistency over shotmaking.

    More strength is needed to hit consistently off high-bouncing shots. Still more strength to generate such power off such shots to make the opponent think twice about going there. Stan had this strength, Roger had not. Stan also had the stamina to not need to go for broke too early, thus avoiding too many unforced errors, unlike Roger.

    If you have the strength and stamina, a singlehander might still be a good choice for an attacking player. The reach is better, variety is better, more power can be generated. I believe, Dimitrov e.g. might beat Nadal too one of these days. He has improved a lot on strength and stamina, though still not enough to beat Nadal at AO unfortunately. Maybe next time. 🙂

    So I definitely think, the shbh still has some advantages even in the modern game, the disadvantages might outweigh them slightly. In the end the form of the backhand is not the deciding factor imho, it’s fitness, fitness, and, you guess it, fitness.

  15. I haven´t read all posts but you say in the article that only Borg and Connors used the double handed backhand with any GS success prior to the mid-90s. Guess you forgot Mats Wilander…

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