The Slice Backhand II - TennisForum.com

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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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The Slice Backhand II

I know I've posted about this shot before, but the past few days I've been thinking about this shot in particular, and after reading a few posts from LDVTennis regarding Serena's attempts at this shot this week, I actually pulled out a vintage Graf match to analyze the stroke all over again. Last night I watched the 1993 San Diego semi-final between Steffi Graf and Conchita Martinez, which, at least for the first set and a half, was one of the best played tennis matches I've ever seen. Both players used the slice backhand, but I noticed a huge difference not only in the pace, but the way Graf's backhand slice actually ate up the court and drove the Conchita not only off, but wide of the court just trying to dig it out. Are coaches just not teaching the girls to knife this shot like that any more?

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 06:53 PM
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Sabatini had a better back hand slice.

Most players today are technically inept. They are schooled in the art of bash the thing to shreds.

LOL vintage Steffi.
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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andre_Co_Uk
Sabatini had a better back hand slice.

Most players today are technically inept. They are schooled in the art of bash the thing to shreds.

LOL vintage Steffi.
Sabatini may have had better technique than Martinez on the slice, but Conchita was much quicker and got behind the ball earlier much more often on that side, and as a result had a more effective slice backhand that Gaby- whose slice was often-times a defensive shot hit while she was reaching for the ball. Neither player hit it as hard or with as much bite as Graf or Novotna or Navratilova.

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 07:01 PM
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sabatini had a top spin backhand not a slice!!!!
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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
Sabatini may have had better technique than Martinez on the slice, but Conchita was much quicker and got behind the ball earlier much more often on that side, and as a result had a more effective slice backhand that Gaby- whose slice was often-times a defensive shot hit while she was reaching for the ball. Neither player hit it as hard or with as much bite as Graf or Novotna or Navratilova.
Yeah I’ll buy that. Gabriela did lack a little in the footwork, and movement department. I think if she had gained success over Steffi in the Wimbledon final her career and game would have hit new heights. She’d have gained the confidence to try a more attacking approach like the three Ladies you mention (Martina Nav, Steffi and Jana).
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 07:14 PM
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I forgot to add: As for Conchita, I don’t think she was the most gazelle-like of movers on court, but her postional play on court was excellent. I always thought of her as a player with a great tennis brain. Personally for myself, there was far more to her game than the dreaded moonball.
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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 07:14 PM
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steffi had the better slice backhand
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manu32
sabatini had a top spin backhand not a slice!!!!
Gabriela Sabatini had all the shots on the backhand side- the heavy topspin, the flat drive, the slice, the dropshot, and the topspin and chipped lobs, as well as the backhand overhead. The slice was just one component of her very good backhand side.

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
Gabriela Sabatini had all the shots on the backhand side- the heavy topspin, the flat drive, the slice, the dropshot, and the topspin and chipped lobs, as well as the backhand overhead. The slice was just one component of her very good backhand side.
It makes you wonder what may have been for some of the players from the late70's - early 80's. If they had a decent first serve.
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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andre_Co_Uk
It makes you wonder what may have been for some of the players from the late70's - early 80's. If they had a decent first serve.
Oh, God, if Sabatini had ever developed a decent first service motion (without all those hitches), she'd definitely have won 5 or 6 or possibly more majors!

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #11 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2004, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
Oh, God, if Sabatini had ever developed a decent first service motion (without all those hitches), she'd definitely have won 5 or 6 or possibly more majors!
Hehe, I'm not a crazed Sabatini fan. When she played, I was be happy if she possessed a serve that could reach the other side of the net (eg playing Gigi Fernandez at the US Open, I think they ball bounced twice before reaching the net on a few serves in this match) I just feel she lacked the killer instinct. Something that all great champions have in abundance.
When she played doubles with Steffi, I was always under the apprehension that Steffi had a little voice in her head saying 'Oh I'd love to give her a shake'.

Surely Carlos Kirmayr worked a miracle to get her to be more agressive. Which culminated in her winning the US Open, and reaching the Wimbledon final. When she played Leila Meshki in the quarters, wow, what a dreary affair that was. And the change around with her approach come the semis was remarkable.

I suppose you still say the ball was out in the tie-break. When Gabriela had match point.
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post #12 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2004, 03:27 AM
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The slice backhand, one of my favorite shots.

PERCEPTION
The general assumption is that it is an easy shot to hit. I guess that may be due to the fact that for some blocking the ball is equivalent to hitting a slice backhand. A hacker on the public courts does that and he or she thinks they are slicing. They are NOT.

BEAUTY & PERFECTION
There are some things in sport, like formations in football and edges in figure skating, that only a select few who know enough about the sport can really appreciate. A slice backhand is one of those things. I recently had to explain to a friend what makes the slice backhand a beautiful shot. I had to think about this before responding. Knowing that my friend is a figure skating fan, I thought this might make sense. The best slice backhands trace a pattern, just like a skating blade does in completing a school figure. The pattern that the best slice backhands trace in the air is that of an S-curve. The racquet starts out at shoulder height, moves across, down and out in front of the player's body.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
In order to trace that S-curve, the player must have amazing racquet control. There is a point along that S-curve (i.e., two consecutive curves in opposite directions), for instance, where the failure to close the face of the racquet can lead to the ball taking off. That point would be at or slightly after the apex of the first curve.

STARTING POINT
A flexible and universal grip. I use a Continental Grip on the shot. I think Steffi did as well. The more western your grip is the less absolute control one has of the face of the racquet. Hence, the more difficult or tame the shot becomes.

Players who use a western grip on their forehand have the tendency to address the ball with the racquet face in its horizontal position, even if the grip on the slice backhand is more open. That's just something I noticed recently. With the racquet in that position, the swing won't fully complete the S-curve. After the first curve that is, the racquet stops moving down and out toward the net. Instead, it usually moves out to the side, on the backhand, left to right.

The brilliance of Steffi's slice backhand is that it traced the complete S-curve. Moving the racquet from low to high (first curve) would only have allowed her to float the ball over the net with a moderate amount of pace. It is the second curve, not the first, that makes the ball go faster and bite into/skid through the court.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD SLICE BACKHANDS GONE?
Most of the blame rests in the grips today's players use to hit a forehand and a double handed backhand. The Western grip on the forehand over time renders even the best player's wrists inert. On the two-handed backhand side of today, the left hand and wrist is more active than the right hand, causing the right hand again to become even more innert.

Therefore, by the time the best players start to learn how to hit a slice backhand, they no longer have any feel or real flexibility left in their right hand or wrist to really complete the S-curve as described above.

That's my theory.
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post #13 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2004, 03:42 AM
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"Vintage Steffi"......That's the best style of play!
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post #14 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2004, 07:23 AM
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Steffi has the best backhand slice!! no one is/was even close

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post #15 of 46 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2004, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andre_Co_Uk
...I suppose you still say the ball was out in the tie-break. When Gabriela had match point.
It most certainly was, and I pride myself on being a very fair person when it comes to line calls (I know, we've all heard that before, but it's true with me- I even have problems with playing my own serves when I see them out and the returner plays them). I've watched quite a few Graf matches over the years, both in person and on TV and video, and I can say quite honestly that she has consistently been one of the fairest tennis players I have ever seen regarding line calls- ever.

There was a time when I was much younger that I argued line calls- never getting ugly like McEnroe or Connors or on occasion Navratilova, but to the point of calling for an umpire during a tournament once. I have since learned to focus more on paying attention to the ball, and what my options are with the ball, and nothing else. Line calls will take care of themselves. I will get some bad calls, and will get some good ones, and the moment I start to think that I can actually direct which way line calls go, is the moment I stop paying attention to the ball.

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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