Championship-winning Backhand, Forehand Impotence
Here are a few notable players who would fall into that category:
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.
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.
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 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.