PDA

View Full Version : What's better: Borg's forehand or backhand?


David_86
06-25-2009, 02:16 AM
The two-handed backhand is probably his most iconic shot, but I think his forehand was better given his tendancy to run around his backhand.

rod99
06-25-2009, 02:57 AM
everybody runs around their backhand, even if their backhand is their better shot. this is b/c you can create better angles with the inside out forehand and you're going over the low part of the net. with that being said, borg's forehand was better, as his backhand had a tendency to land short.

Borgforever
06-25-2009, 03:32 AM
Björn Borg's forehand was widely regarded as the world's greatest in the 70s -- and like Sidney Smith's in the early 1900s Björn had wonderful inside out forehand so that probably had a lot to do with his running around on that flank and he almost always hit it open stance (like Wills-Moody no less!) -- a forerunner to many today.

When I compiled a little highlight-reel with Borg vs Lendl at RG 1981 (on YT) one of the things I wanted to point to was the inherent strength in Björn's forehand even facing one of the more obviously spectacular forehands of all time -- Lendl's -- and that Björn wasn't at all afraid to face off on that side.

Borg, with his attrition-strategy coupled with the lack of control and precision in those racquets, didn't use this flank so agressively if he didn't need it. Against Ivan who obviously had one of the greatest forehands ever he was forced to -- as you can see here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDBaqY2Ojqo

Björn's forehand was arguably his greatest stroke -- but from 15-16 years of age Borg honed his disguise and precision on his backhand. The problem with his backhand was that he couldn't hit it as great in an open stance, like some can today thanks to racquet-technology, so he was losing a step in prep of the shot. So his backhand needed to have extraordinary features so as not be a weakness.

Percy Rosberg (Borg's first, great coach seen in that YT-interview from 1974 I posted a translation of long ago) polished his "whippy" backhand to be precision and disguise perfect and when Bergelin came along he saw the potential of that shot becoming "his secret weapon". Yes, everybody who wasn't blind saw that his forehand wasn't bad and that his consistency wasn't anything to sneeze at so let's invite an attack on his backhand.

That became the strategy and many a player was baited (with the consciously short shot), trapped and ultimately passed with this tactic. I'll say Bear's forehand and backhand were both great, supreme shots, with a slight edge to the versatility of the forehand.

Lew Hoad mentions often how he thought Borg's two ground strokes were the two best such shots he's ever seen -- and pointed out how glad he was that he never had to face them, admitting that he felt that such enormous strength in those areas were kryptonite for his power-game.

I believe you can see a pattern from Björn here in Rafa's game. Nadal's backhand has become stronger with the years and suddenly it was almost as formidable as his famous FH -- having more of a "jack-in-the-box"-surprise quality and that's what ultimately was one of the contributing factors to him summiting the No. 1 throne. For me Rafa vs. Fed was always the battle of the backhands.

Personally there's not a lot of double handed backhands I find beautiful. I never played double handed. Why lose a step?

I think Roger Federer's, Rod Laver's -- heck, even Sampras' and Lend's backhands are more aesthetically pleasing than any double hander, save for Björn's wonderfully flowing one and Jimbo's and Rafa's executioner's axe...

BTURNER
06-25-2009, 01:50 PM
"When I compiled a little highlight-reel with Borg vs Lendl at RG 1981 (on YT) one of the things I wanted to point to was the inherent strength in Björn's forehand even facing one of the more obviously spectacular forehands of all time -- Lendl's -- and that Björn wasn't at all afraid to face off on that side."

Borgforever, I have that 5 setter RG final on DVD. You are right about Borg not being afraid of Lendl's forehand but I interpreted that as confidence in his foot-speed running down Lendl's superior shot, rather than a sense he thought his was inherently better. Frankly, I was very impressed with how many clean winners such a young talent got over the fastest player in the world, on slow red clay. Lendl was very steady and, well, I think anyone able to take Borg to five in a RG final,, hitting so many forehands for so long, deserves a lot of respect. This was a young guy out there. He played some smart clay stuff.

Cross Court
06-25-2009, 01:58 PM
His backhand is his weapon. With a string tension at 80, he could really pound the ball with both his hands and kill his opponent.

Borgforever
06-25-2009, 02:08 PM
I agree with you BTURNER -- great credit to Lendl, a supreme player even so far back as early 1980. Remember that Lendl beat McEnroe in 1981 in H2H's 4-0 (!!!) humiliating and blowouting Mac almost very time -- Borg was 1-3 -- 3-5 including exxos -- disturbed and bored by Mac's no-rally play -- especially when feeling burnout as he did this year.

Lendl was no greenhorn in 1981 when he pulverized Mac like that on every surface he met him on. Borg, as CyBorg points out, was rusty and lazy many times at RG in 1981 and not like he was the earlier years there and lost focus several times. Still Björn won his sets in blowout style 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 clearly showing Ivan he was never, ever close -- even though the match went to five.

Borg had hardly played any matches before RG 1981 after his glorious victory at the YEC Masters in the Madison Square Garden, New York, for his second successive year blowouting a great Ivan on his favorite surface -- 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 again proving how he dealt with Ivan's power-game. This he repeated in Perth, late 1982 on indoor carpet and at AKAI in November 1982 effectually breaking Lendl's "official indoor streak" with 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 when Mac couldn't even get a set against Ivan, let alone break his service, proving yet again how formidable Björn's service return really was on fast surfaces.

When Borg's back was against the wall -- the shots I provided on this YT-clip were the norm and Lendl was as good as dead...

BTURNER
06-25-2009, 05:06 PM
I will yield to your greater knowledge. No one dare contest Borg was the greatest 'big point' player of his era. Lendl did not get that until later. I think Lendl was something like 19 or 20 back then? Lendl did not fade from exhaustion or let down after those blow-outs like so many did in Borg's sites on red clay until that last set. I saw elements of Lendl future greatness in that match.

Borgforever
06-25-2009, 05:54 PM
Ivan was 21 (b. March 1960) in 1981...

When Borg was 21 he had 92.2% winning percentage (1977), voted No. 1 for the second successive year by a large majority of pro players on the planet and when Mac was 21 he beat Jimbo and Borg in two unforgettable, classic, back-to-back, five-setters at the USO 1980 and will always be remembered for his 18-16 tie-breaker victory against Borg at Wimby 1980. Rafael Nadal was 21 when he, as the first person on the planet, pushed Roger Federer to five sets in the 2007 Wimby-final having break-points in the fifth and flubbing an easy FH to boot (his strongest most consistent stroke) just a month after he had won his third successive RG.

Ivan Lendl blowouted the 1981 No. 1 John McEnroe almost every time -- as I said never losing to him that year and almost made (very, very close) the No. 1-spot in 1982 as a 22-year-old, an age were Borg won his third straight Wimby in straight sets against a marvellous Connors...

rod99
06-25-2009, 07:15 PM
His backhand is his weapon. With a string tension at 80, he could really pound the ball with both his hands and kill his opponent.

i disagree....

Cross Court
06-25-2009, 07:30 PM
i disagree....

:shock:

NO

Mick
06-25-2009, 07:52 PM
I prefer the way borg hit his backhand in the old days.

BreakPoint says borg now hit his backhand with a 2 hand follow through. In the old days, he would release the 2nd hand as soon as the ball was struck.

Borgforever
06-26-2009, 01:26 AM
I agree Mick...

But Björn suffered a lot of strain on his shoulders for that motion. When he was a young man that was sustainable -- but after 30-35 years of age he couldn't play like this for long before being injured.

When asked directly about this motion-changer Björn has said:

"I can't play like I used to. The body can't take it anymore."

And:

"You know, we old men, always try to make it easier on ourselves."

pc1
06-29-2009, 01:53 PM
I agree Mick...

But Björn suffered a lot of strain on his shoulders for that motion. When he was a young man that was sustainable -- but after 30-35 years of age he couldn't play like this for long before being injured.

When asked directly about this motion-changer Björn has said:

"I can't play like I used to. The body can't take it anymore."

And:

"You know, we old men, always try to make it easier on ourselves."

I think John Newcombe (not 100% certain it was him) mentioned that he didn't think Borg could last that long with that violent follow through he had.

I loved the way Borg used to hit his backhand. It was so smooth and flowing with that one handed follow through.

Borgforever
06-29-2009, 02:20 PM
Well, I agree -- IMO aesthetically the most pleasant double handed backhand...

I would appreciate very much if you possibly, please, could share some impressions from your Doherty-books pc1?

pc1
06-29-2009, 02:56 PM
Well, I agree -- IMO aesthetically the most pleasant double handed backhand...

I would appreciate very much if you possibly, please, could share some impressions from your Doherty-books pc1?

If I feel I can add to what you have written and you have written an incredible amount on them I will. The books and articles I have on them is a discussion often of their styles, history and only some of their great records and victories.

Borgforever
06-29-2009, 03:30 PM
If I feel I can add to what you have written and you have written an incredible amount on them I will. The books and articles I have on them is a discussion often of their styles, history and only some of their great records and victories.

That's exactly what interests me most at the moment.

I will soon present my analysis of their style, career development and their key moments based on the material I've gone through -- but it's not complete by any means and I would very much welcome some additional input before I fire away. I's tiring to revise all the time. I've revised every post here almost now (still some things to go) and just now it's on a decent level.

In short. R. F. more explosive, all-round super-competitor maybe highest peak play.

H. L. a better version of his older brother in style, faster and nimbler in mind and subsequently more efficient instead of his sibling's all out aggressiveness...

Idzznew
06-30-2009, 12:53 AM
Here's what I have at the moment on R. Doherty at www.teenisarchives.com
Not as brilliant as his brother but impressive anyway

grtz
Alex



Stats
Matches in database: 55
Victories in database: 42
Tournaments won in database: 11
Results

1894 Wimbledon
Round 1 Cazalet, Clement H.L. d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (6-3 6-4 2-6 6-3)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1895 Wimbledon
Round 2 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Nisbet, Harold A. (4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4)
Quarterfinals Baddeley, Herbert d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (6-4 6-2 6-4)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1896 Wimbledon
Round 1 Mahony , Harold Segerson d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (6-3 5-7 6-1 3-6 6-2)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1897 Wimbledon
Round 1 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Simond, George Miéville (11-9 1-6 6-4 6-3)
Round 2 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Milne, Oswald (6-2 6-1 9-7)
Quarterfinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Riseley, Frank Lorymer (w.o.)
Semifinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Baddeley, Wlifred (6-3 6-0 6-3)
Final Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Eaves, Wilberforce Vaughan (6-3 7-5 2-0 ret.)
Challenge Round Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Mahony , Harold Segerson (6-4 6-4 6-3)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1897 Monte Carlo
Round 1 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Girard, ? (6-1 6-1)
Round 2 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Fombertaux, ? (6-1 6-2)
Quarterfinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Cazalet, Clement H.L. (6-3 6-4)
Semifinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Voss, V. (6-2 6-2)
Final Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Blackwood Price, C.W. (6-2 6-1 6-2)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1898 Wimbledon
Challenge Round Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Doherty , Hugh Laurence (Laurie) (6-3 6-3 2-6 5-7 6-1)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1898 Monte Carlo
Round 1 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Russell Brown, ? (6-1 2-6 6-0)
Round 2 Robiglio, ? d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (w.o.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1899 Wimbledon
Challenge Round Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Gore, Arthur Wentworth (1-6 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1899 Monte Carlo
Round 1 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Barlow, Harry S. (6-1 6-1)
Quarterfinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Lemaire de Warzeé, Willie (6-0 6-1)
Semifinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Amiet, ? (6-1 6-4)
Final Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Voss, V. (6-2 ret.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1900 Wimbledon
Challenge Round Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Smith, Sydney H. (6-8 6-3 6-1 6-2)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1901 Wimbledon
Challenge Round Gore, Arthur Wentworth d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (4-6 7-5 6-4 6-4)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1901 Monte Carlo
Round 1 Hillyard, George Whiteside d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (w.o.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1902 Wimbledon
Round 1 Hough, Robert B. d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (w.o.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1902 Monte Carlo
Round 1 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Blacker Douglas, ? (w.o.)
Quarterfinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Allen, Charles Gladstone (w.o.)
Semifinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Lemaire de Warzeé, Willie (6-4 6-3)
Final Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Hillyard, George Whiteside (6-4 6-4 6-3)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1902 US Lawn tennis championships
Round 2 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Davidson, John C. (6-0 6-2 6-0)
Round 3 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Mahan, Lyle E. (6-2 6-0 6-4)
Round 4 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Clothier, William Jackson (3-6 7-5 6-4 6-2)
Quarterfinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Waidner, Louis Harry (w.o.)
Semifinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Doherty , Hugh Laurence (Laurie) (w.o.)
Final Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Whitman, Malcolm D. (6-1 3-6 6-3 6-0)
Challenge Round Larned, William Augustus d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (4-6 6-2 6-4 8-6)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1903 Monte Carlo
Round 1 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Goodbody, Manliff F. (6-1 6-1)
Quarterfinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Allen, E.R. (Roy) (w.o.)
Semifinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Doherty , Hugh Laurence (Laurie) (w.o.)
Final Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Riseley, Frank Lorymer (6-1 14-16 ret.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1903 US Lawn tennis championships
Round 2 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Merrill, B.F. (6-1 6-2 6-1)
Round 3 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Collins, Kreigh (6-2 2-6 10-8 6-3)
Round 4 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Paret, J. Parmly (6-0 6-1 6-2)
Quarterfinals Doherty , Hugh Laurence (Laurie) d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (w.o.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1903 Southampton (Long Island)
Round 2 Torrence, A. d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (w.o.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1904 Wimbledon
Round 1 Goldberg, Fritz W. d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (w.o.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1904 Monte Carlo
Round 1 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Grote, ? (w.o.)
Round 2 Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Doherty , Hugh Laurence (Laurie) (w.o.)
Quarterfinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Allen, E.R. (Roy) (6-2 9-7)
Semifinals Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Lansdowne, ? (w.o.)
Final Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) d. Ritchie, M. Joshia George (6-1 7-5 3-6 7-5)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1905 Wimbledon
Round 1 Powell, Kenneth d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (w.o.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1905 Monte Carlo
Round 1 Gladky, ? d. Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie) (w.o.)

Borgforever
06-30-2009, 05:01 AM
I think John Newcombe (not 100% certain it was him) mentioned that he didn't think Borg could last that long with that violent follow through he had.

Well, I think John Newcombe is as correct as always he is.

Newk's knowledge and acumen for tennis is, well, genius.

I think injuries would've checked Björn's career as early as 1984-85 even if he continued just because of his reliance on athleticism and retrieving speed coupled with that strenious backhand. Borg's shoulder injuries during the fall of 1977 and fall of 1980 was very much because of his "wristy", flicking BH-follow through.

His shot is actually much more a one-hander just assisted up to the striking of the ball. Björn said his backhand was a left-over from his hockey -- the hockey-precision-slapshot. "I trick the goalie, shoot and scores -- the guy at the net is the goalie and I have to nail it."

By letting go of the hand Björn could flick his wrist much more, changing direction of the shot at a much later moment achieving much more penetrating and punishing passingshots off that flank. The arm paid the price and shoulder paid the price -- too many backhands, too many matches would affect and lower his serve-percentages as a result of strained shoulders...

borg number one
09-17-2009, 04:35 AM
Check this weblink below which provides a very interesting technical (frame by frame) comparision of Borg's forehand vs. the Federer forehand. They are technically very similar. Borg's forehand was hands down the most dangerous shot in the game at the time. His backhand would be attacked, and he could defend brilliantly with his backhand, but he would inflict maximum damage with his forehand, much like Federer..Both have devastating forehands and beautiful backhands, but Federer's backhand can be attacked, especially with high bounces. That's where the 1 hander hurts him some, especially on red clay and the high bounces. Remember the Australian last year against Nadal as well? On the other hand, Borg had that advantage of being able to hit a high bouncing ball to the backhand, because he had the assistance of that second hand.That gave him a edge at the French with the high bounces. He could literally sort of leap in the air and still pull off the 2 handed backhand. Anyway, here is first the forehand comparison between Federer and Borg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31IYa7VsZYg

pc1
09-17-2009, 04:46 AM
Arthur Ashe used to do a series in one of the tennis magazines here on tennis strokes. I think it was World Tennis Magazine. Anyway when he did the feature on the forehand he picked Bjorn Borg's forehand as the greatest forehand he had ever seen.

Vic Braden did an analysis on Borg's backhand and he discovered that Borg used his left hand as the dominant hand when he used the backhand. This explained to Braden when Borg was able to make so many incredible shots on his backhand after the ball was passed him a bit.

Overall I believe most would say Borg's forehand was superior to Borg's backhand but both were great shots.

ZhengJieisagoddess
09-17-2009, 04:55 AM
I think Borg was the greatest artist who ever played. His forehand is the mental image that I have of the shot hit to perfection. Borg was my first tennis hero; and for me he will always be THE champion.

Frank Silbermann
09-17-2009, 06:19 PM
everybody runs around their backhand, even if their backhand is their better shot. this is b/c you can create better angles with the inside out forehand and you're going over the low part of the net. And why wouldn't you be able to create better angles with the inside-out backhand going over the low part of the net -- if one's backhand is indeed the better shot?

(For the record, Pancho Segura had a lefthander's two-handed backhand instead of a right-handed forehand, and he ran around his other side to hit inside-out quite a bit.)

It's funny, there are people whose sole criterion for who is the better tennis player on a given day is "whoever wins" -- even if the loser was more accurate and more consistent but just couldn't cover as much court or hit as hard. And yet, those same people will claim that a backhand is better if it is more accurate and more consistent -- even if the forehand is capable of covering more court, hitting harder and, in general, winning more points.

borg number one
09-18-2009, 02:19 PM
Very good point Frank. I agree with your post, especially at the end. One thing to consider is that hitting the forehand inside out means you can hit in effect Crosscourt to someone's backhand (usually weaker). Yet, doing the same thing on the backhand is not as "fruitful" usually since when hitting cross court you are going back to someone's forehand and they can hit a hard shot down the line when you attempt to do so.