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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2004, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thoughts on Steffi's backhand

The thread about Kim Clijsters maybe having to switch to one handed backhand got me thinking about this. Why do so many people think Steffi's backhand was bad? I always thought it was a rather good shot, especially on grass. Was it just because it wasn't as flashy and spectacular looking as her forehand? Ar am I missing something and it indeed wasn't that good?

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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2004, 09:38 PM
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I've never understood those who thought that Steffi's backhand was a weakness. As you suggested, it was merely the better option to hit to than her forehand. I've heard many of the players that Steffi faced talk about how much they hated Steffi's backhand. They didn't like that slice that came though and felt heavy on their racquets. And they didn't like how low the ball usually bounced. Steffi could manuever her opponents using her backhand. That's one reason why court positioning was so important to her.

Steffi won a lot of titles because of her backhand and her speed IMO. Her movement and her serve was never mentioned as much as her forehand. But that was because her forehand was the single biggest shot in tennis. But because she had to play so many backhand passes and groundies, I'd say that she never could have been as successful as she was if her backhand wasn't as good as it was.

On a scale of 1-10 we all know her forehand was a 10. On that same scale, I'd say that her backhand was a 7 or 8.
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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2004, 10:02 PM
 
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Steffi had a good backhand but I think it's overrated by some people - it's not like the best slice ever like some people around here make out.

It was not a weakness IMHO, her footwork was too good. However, in relative terms, most shots would be a weakness when compared with her forehand .
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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2004, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joana
The thread about Kim Clijsters maybe having to switch to one handed backhand got me thinking about this. Why do so many people think Steffi's backhand was bad? I always thought it was a rather good shot, especially on grass. Was it just because it wasn't as flashy and spectacular looking as her forehand? Ar am I missing something and it indeed wasn't that good?

No-one who ever saw Graf play live would say her backhand was bad.
There a slice backhands and "The Graf Slice Backhand".
Enough said.

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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2004, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kart
Steffi had a good backhand but I think it's overrated by some people - it's not like the best slice ever like some people around here make out. ....


Who then had the best slice backhand?

("Overrated" ..... OMG ...... )
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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 02:45 AM
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Best backhand slice?

It's difficult to measure such "best" oriented criteria, but many many female players from Pauline Betz (and prior) to Justine Henin-Hardine have had wonderful slice backhands. Graf's backhand was quite good, particularly on grass, but does it really stand out historically??? IMO her shot was consistent and usually hit fairly deep though at times it was a bit too predictable...rarely did she hit a flat drive on that side and only occasionally hit it with topspin. Reliable, yes, but not quite brilliant
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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 03:06 AM
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I would say it was the single greatest slice of all time. Not the greatest topspin, or flat drive, but definetly the greatest slice. She gave everyone fits with that low skiding ball that just cut away from her opponents.

Without a doubt it was the single most defended shot in the history of the sport.
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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 10:55 AM
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Graf really 'worked' the slice backhand - putting a lot of spin and speed onto it, thus it took off when hitting the ground and didn't have much float on it like others. Definitely the most agressive and damaging slice Ive seen.

Gaby and Henin tend to glide the slice, looks pretty but not as damaging as Steffi. Whereas Martina chipped hers more and not working the spin as much mainly because she was more intent on moving forward than making the slice a winning shot.

Jana Novotna's slice had alot of work as well, stayed low and was an aggressive shot. One of the best Ive seen as well.

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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 11:19 AM
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It was a good baseliner's sliced backhand.

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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
It was a good baseliner's sliced backhand.
My thought exactly Andy. It was the variety of a topsin forehand with the slice backhand that made Graf so wicked. Essentially though it was a baseliner's backhand.

Jana, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean used it much more effectively as an approach shot. Biliie Jean's was the best in the business IMO.


I had to laugh when Steffi once mentioned how if she had to do it all over again she would learn a two handed backhand. It might have cost her the grands lam in 1988 plus a few more Wimbledons!
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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by louloubelle
Graf really 'worked' the slice backhand - putting a lot of spin and speed onto it, thus it took off when hitting the ground and didn't have much float on it like others. Definitely the most agressive and damaging slice Ive seen.

Gaby and Henin tend to glide the slice, looks pretty but not as damaging as Steffi. Whereas Martina chipped hers more and not working the spin as much mainly because she was more intent on moving forward than making the slice a winning shot.

Jana Novotna's slice had alot of work as well, stayed low and was an aggressive shot. One of the best Ive seen as well.

I agree with Steffi "working" the slice like no one else. It had much more work on it than anyone else's slice IMO. Martina's was quite remarkable on any surface as well. She kept hers low and placed it better than anyone that I've seen.

Ya'll know that I love Jana. I think Jana's slice was a strength but I also think it was a bit overated. Mainly because she and Steffi were really the only two top players left with a slice backhand at the end of her career. She made good use of the cross court slice approach but would have done better using the down the line more than she did. I'm not sure if that was always her preference because of playing Steffi so much and wanting to find her backhand. But even against Graf, a few more approaches down the line would have been effective because Steffi always knew what was coming. For example: 1995 Wimbledon SF. BJK and Martina practically begged her to hit a down the line approach to Steffi's forehand because Steffi was camped out in her backhand corner.

Needless to say, I like Hana's slice as well But I think Hana's slice was best on carpet and grass.
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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 02:27 PM
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The variety off Hana (and Jana's) shots-both forehand and Backhand, can't be touched be any of the other women in recent years. Martina never really hit an effective topspin backhand on groundstrokes, nor did Graf. Jana and Hana had the whole package, including sliced forehands.

Alas, all that variety hurt them too.
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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo
The variety off Hana (and Jana's) shots-both forehand and Backhand, can't be touched be any of the other women in recent years. Martina never really hit an effective topspin backhand on groundstrokes, nor did Graf. Jana and Hana had the whole package, including sliced forehands.

Alas, all that variety hurt them too.

Yes, that dreaded curse of so much talent! I'm not sure what priority Hana and Jana put on improving Jana's topspin backhand. It would have helped her tremendously to have been able to come up with more topspins when challenged. Jana could lob and dink and try to beat back an onrusher positionally but I'm surprised more players including Seles didn't approach the net against Jana's backhand more.

As for Martina's backhand variety, I have to say I loved it. She really developed that and became very tough to deal with from the net. When she switched to a graphite racquet, she did a great job of improving that shot.

But I like Steffi's use of her backhand best. Has any single shot in the history of tennis been tested more? She left a little to be desired on the topspin but I really respect Steffi's backhand.
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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 07:23 PM
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Calimero377: The title of this thread is "Thoughts on Steffi's backhand" which is what I addressed in my post. I mentioned the slice backhand, the flat-drive and the topspin in my reply. If you wish to start another thread and only discuss slice backhands then knock yourself out - no one's gonna stop you.

However, if you choose to disrespect any and all players' achievements that came before Steffi (as is characteristic of you) then that's your perogitive, but I'm sorry, I happen to hold tennis historians (Ted Tinling for one) and legendary players (such as Alice Marble and BJK) opinions on Betz and others higher than your own - nothing personal! And no, I never saw Betz's backhand live, but neither have I personally witnessed Pancho Gonzales's serve. Does that mean it shouldn't be discussed or considered at all in such forums? I thought this board was one dedicated to tennis history? Oddly, it seems history for you starts at 1986 and ends about thirteen yrs later. Sorry but if that's actually the case, quite a few of us on this board might certainly disagree!
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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2004, 08:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calimero377


Who then had the best slice backhand?
I anticipated your arrival:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kart
Steffi had a good backhand but I think it's overrated by some people - it's not like the best slice ever like some people around here make out.
I would answer your question but let's both be honest, there's no point really is there ?
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