Who are some ambidextrous tennis players
Is the renaissance of the one-handed backhand coming?
No stroke in men's tennis is rated as above the "B mark" as the backhand. Players who hit it in its two-handed version can be as effective, consistent and powerful as they want with it - commentators and fans are more likely to rave about when the ball flies over the net with one-handed hit. For most of the other strokes in tennis, regardless of the type of stroke execution, what ultimately comes out predominates in the assessment. The one-handed backhand, on the other hand, is always rightly defined by its aesthetics.
Internationally, people have enjoyed the backhand blows from Federer, Wawrinka or Gasquet for many years. And in top German tennis, too, the one-handed backhand was dominant and always present for a long time. Starting with Boris Becker and Michale Stich, then continued by players like Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The two-handed backhand has dominated world tennis more and more for decades
This is exactly why the blow is always put at the center of anxious discussions. Every few years it is again identified in the media as "critically endangered". And it can also be seen clearly: The two-handed backhand, which was only really established in tennis at the end of the 60s, has started a real triumphant advance with players like Jimmy Connors and Björn Borg since the 70s of the last century at the latest 2000s accelerated. A good 10 years ago, around half of the top 100 professionals used a one-handed backhand, but the number has recently fallen dramatically. In 2016, one in five was one-handed, at the end of the 2019 season there are only 15 players in the top 100 with just one hand on the racket. The last Grand Slam final between two one-handed players was that of the Australian Open 2007, when Roger Federer defeated the Chilean Fernando Gonzales.
Final Four player with one handed backhand # AtpFinals # London # semifinal # ATP- tennis MAGAZIN (@tennismagazin) November 16, 2019
Tsitsipas, Shapovalov, Thiem: Is there a sustainable renaissance of the one-hander?
Two weeks ago, however, two younger professionals fought a grand final with one-handed backhands. Stefanos Tsitsipas (21) and Dominic Thiem (26) did not play a Grand Slam, but the final at the Tour Finals. In 2017, Grigor Dimitrov was won by another man in his twenties with one-handed backhand. And in the last week, Denis Shapovalov (Canada), who also played in the Masters final in Paris in 2019, caused another very young player to cause a sensation. After the final, he was ennobled by none other than world number one Rafael Nadal as a player who has that special something. Part of this "something" is certainly his impressive one-handed backhand, sometimes spectacularly struck in the jump.
So is there a sustained renaissance of this type among the world's best? If you look at the current junior world rankings, that is not likely. Only two of the top 20 juniors in the world, the Italian Lorenzo Musetti and the American Toby Kodat, are one-handed. The two-handed backhand strike is often the more tempting alternative, especially for children and young people, because - also for reasons of strength - it is easier to form a safe and compact and thus more promising strike.
The variability as a big plus
However, the one-handed backhand variant still has its advantages. It not only looks good, but also ensures that players can act more variably with a good slice, develop a successful "transition game" towards the net and score points there with technically good volleys. From this point of view, it could then even indirectly contribute to the long-term "survival" of the strike in professional tennis, if not too many players resort to this means and the advantages of the technology become a kind of unique selling point for some top players. Thiem, Tsitsipas and Shapovalov show how it is done. And Lorenzo Musetti, mentioned above, has already shown it. At the age of 16, he won the junior title at the Australian Open in January. With a lot of variability in strokes. With the one-handed against the complete two-handed competition.
(Image: (c) imago images)
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