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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Question Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

Here are a few notable players who would fall into that category:

Chris Evert

Chris's backhand was a legendary shot, the prototype for so many today. She had perfect weight transference, balance, timing, the shot was a rhythmic thing of beauty, and with it she hammered her opponents into submission with faultless length, placement and the most relentless accuracy ever seen in women's tennis. From the backhand side, I have no doubt she would have been able to compete successfully against today's players without any major adjustments, allowing for today's rackets. However, her forehand was probably the shot that prevented her winning a few of those Wimbledon finals. While there were no major technical problems in the stroke, and many times she used it to lure her opponents into the net, it was just too innocuous, with no acceleration and thus lending her no advantage in baseline rallies.

Martina Hingis

Nothing needs to be said about Hingis backhand. Her forehand was another with no major technical flaws, although if any side was to break down it was that because sometimes she'd come over the ball too quickly. She could wrong-foot her opponents by hitting down-the-line with the shot, and produced some superb angles. But the shot she lacked was one which ultimately finished her as a grandslam contender, in my opinion, which was the cross- court forehand - that is, corner to corner. When playing cross-court, Hingis was forced to angle her shots, which lessened her margin for error. Against great movers such as the Williams sisters or Capriati, that deficiency exposed her to winners down-the-line on her backhand side.

Curiously, there was at one time (it might still be there) a clip of a few minutes' duration showing a 15 year-old Hingis playing Steffi Graf in the 1996 U.S Open semi-final. That tournament had sparked her ascendancy to the number one ranking - she had reached the summit 6 months later. I did note that once or twice in those few minutes Hingis hit cross-court to Steffi's forehand corner with audacity. The mind boggles as to why that shot disappeared from her repertoire.

Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario

For over a decade, Aranxta's backhand was rated as one of the best in women's tennis. Her double-hander was the side from which she could press. She could flatten, loop or dink. And yet progressively throughout Aranxta's career, her forehand was the shot which was clearly her achilies heel when her confidence was low. Rather like Hingis, except much worse, Aranxta had a tendency to come over the ball too soon. She had a crisis of confidence in the first half of 1997 when her forehand was barely going over the net in some matches. Rarely could Aranxta hit winners from her forehand for technical reasons.

Of course, opponents still had to be careful against such an artful dodger. She could jab the ball with her forehand, slicing it into mid-court and leaving short balls which players felt obliged to put away but which spun unpredictably. And there were matches when players peppered her forehand but came off worse: Seles in the 1998 French Open final bombarded the Sanchez-Vicario forehand, as she had with great success in all of their previous matches, only that day to find Aranxta ripping forehand winners down the line. In the U.S Open final of 1994, Aranxta took out Graf by successfully negotiating the rallies with down-the-line forehands to her opponent's backhand. Moreover, on youtube there are clips of the 1991 French Open final when Aranxta was hitting flattened forehand winners against Seles. She clearly at some point in the mid-90s decided to impart heavy topspin onto her forehand and altered her technique. Again, the mind boggles as to how she managed to mess up the stroke.


Jelena Jankovic

Jelena has one of the top ten best backhands of recent decades, in my opinion, but like all of the players above, and most strikingly like Evert from my perspective, she tends to guide her forehand rather than hit it. If only Jelena could beef up her forehand to hit with more fizz and/or velocity, she could win slams in spite of her average to poor serve.

I'm sure people can think of a few more...but please, let's talk about great players, not also rans.
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 12:05 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

I disagree with JJ. While that could have been said a little while ago, her FH has improved greatly. Although she does hit it with too much topspin, the short angle FH is actually a consistent weapon of hers.

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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

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Originally Posted by Cakeisgood View Post
I disagree with JJ. While that could have been said a little while ago, her FH has improved greatly. Although she does hit it with too much topspin, the short angle FH is actually a consistent weapon of hers.
It's improved, but I've improved at jogging but I'll still never be world class.

Jelena's forehand is still too weak; we saw Venus pummel that side in the masters a couple of months ago. Like Hingis, she can angle the ball from her forehand, but sometimes I feel the angled shot can be running away from a problem rather than circumventing it. Hingis could also angle her forehands, but when it becomes predictable, quick movers can hit down their flank.
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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 12:10 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

Serena's serve.

During 07 AO , even if the rest of the game wasn't working she served so well, especially in the final.

Usualy, when her serve is on , the rest of her game is on.

Its for sure a championship winning shot.

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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 12:12 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

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Originally Posted by ree-and-ross View Post
Serena's serve.

During 07 AO , even if the rest of the game wasn't working she served so well, especially in the final.

Usualy, when her serve is on , the rest of her game is on.

Its for sure a championship winning shot.
???? not this thread haha. btw congrats on 5k posts

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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 12:14 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

Yeah there was no real body-weight transference with Evert's forehand. If anything she would push off the ball, and Navratilova would pick on that side to come in on, especially on grass. She just didnt have the confidence or imagination on that shot.

Hingis's forehand wasnt a bad forehand, but she never flattened it out that regulary, it was often the precursor to the backhand DTL. I agree about her coming over the ball too much, she would often not finish her shot and almost run into the ball at times.

Sanchez Vicario's FH benefited her ok on clay. She could lift it up with topspin and give her more time to find the backhand to play a more a offensive shot. Sometimes though it could just look plain ineffectual, especially on fast hardcourts.
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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 12:14 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

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???? not this thread haha. btw congrats on 5k posts
Hahah Probs not. I just saw the thread title a replied Your first post was too long to read

And thanks

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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 01:01 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

Why isn't Venus Williams on this list? She has the best backhand in women's tennis behind Jankovic.
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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 01:02 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

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In the U.S Open final of 1994, Aranxta took out Graf by successfully negotiating the rallies with down-the-line forehands to her opponent's backhand. Moreover, on youtube there are clips of the 1991 French Open final when Aranxta was hitting flattened forehand winners against Seles. She clearly at some point in the mid-90s decided to impart heavy topspin onto her forehand and altered her technique. Again, the mind boggles as to how she managed to mess up the stroke.
How exemplary can the 1994 US Open Final be? Steffi won the first set very easily. Then came the back spasms. Steffi had to be treated on the court for the condition. She was never quite the same afterwards.

Steffi Graf was part of a youth tennis group that was studied from age 12 and then followed, and the scientists called her "the perfect talent" even then. In addition to her many tennis-specific skills, her aerobic capacity was on par with the best distance runners in Europe. --- David Epstein, The Sports Gene
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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 01:03 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

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Why isn't Venus Williams on this list? She has the best backhand in women's tennis behind Jankovic.
Because the thread is about players with good backhands but poor forehands. Venus' forehead is plenty good.

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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 01:04 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

Jelena can flatten out her forehand and get some pop on it whenever she wants to, I've seen her do it, but for some reason she just..doesn't most of the time.

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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 01:05 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

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Because the thread is about players with good backhands but poor forehands. Venus' forehead is plenty good.
I know what it's about and Venus's forehand breaks down more than any other top player so she should be included in the list IMO. When her forehand is on, sure, it's one of the best, but that is very far and in between.
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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 01:15 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

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I know what it's about and Venus's forehand breaks down more than any other top player so she should be included in the list IMO. When her forehand is on, sure, it's one of the best, but that is very far and in between.
Im surprised you're fighting for the inclusion of one of your faves in a dubious lists. And while that was true a while ago, Venus' FH has improved dramatically.

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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 01:17 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

I know it's gonna sound biased..but I'm the only one thinking maria and the williams sistas have a better backhand than JJ ?

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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old Jan 5th, 2009, 02:02 AM
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Re: Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence

What about Mauresmo?

She has one of the prettiest backhands in the history of tennis IMHO, but her forehand goes array and she gets tentative with it when tight.
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