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View Full Version : Federer grip changes since '05?


Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 07:52 AM
Is it just me, or has Federer appeared to have changed both his forehand and backhand grips since '05? Before this time, his forehand appeared to be more semi-western. Now it appears to be almost an eastern. His backhand grip seemed a little more extreme back then as well. His strokes appeared, in general, to be more whippy , and had more wrist action. It also seems like he hits a flatter ball these days as a consequence. I'm probably wrong as usual.

nereis
12-27-2011, 08:10 AM
Federer used to play from deeper behind the baseline and retrieve balls a lot more than he does today, waiting for the short ball that he would immediately put away.

Back then, no one had any real idea how to read his game or dissect it so as long as he kept himself in the rally he could turn the tables on any short ball with his forehand.

As people began noticing that he made more errors off the backhand they started attacking it more and hitting deeper to it. Consequently he has been forced to compensate in two ways.

First, he has to take the ball off the bounce on the backhand to stop people from pushing him back with excessive topspin. This means that instead of an extreme grip he had to adopt a more conservative grip to allow him to be closer to the baseline.

Secondly, as people are hitting harder to his backhand and with more spin he very rarely has those short balls that he could skip around and send down the line or inside out for a winner. He used to accomplish this by waiting and holding the movement until his opponent committed themselves. Now that those opportunities are rarer he wants to be able to end the point immediately. Consequently he has stopped holding his motion and just went inside-out the vast majority of the time.

As people noticed this they began retrieving those balls back more and sending them to his wide forehand. He has been then forced to shorten his swing to be able to go back to his wide forehand, rather than the big, almost jumping into the air forehand he used to have. Hence, a way to keep some pace while doing that was to hit flatter.

You don't make changes to a winning game without reason, and he has had to adjust to people adjusting to him.

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 08:23 AM
Federer used to play from deeper behind the baseline and retrieve balls a lot more than he does today, waiting for the short ball that he would immediately put away.

Back then, no one had any real idea how to read his game or dissect it so as long as he kept himself in the rally he could turn the tables on any short ball with his forehand.

As people began noticing that he made more errors off the backhand they started attacking it more and hitting deeper to it. Consequently he has been forced to compensate in two ways.

First, he has to take the ball off the bounce on the backhand to stop people from pushing him back with excessive topspin. This means that instead of an extreme grip he had to adopt a more conservative grip to allow him to be closer to the baseline.

Secondly, as people are hitting harder to his backhand and with more spin he very rarely has those short balls that he could skip around and send down the line or inside out for a winner. He used to accomplish this by waiting and holding the movement until his opponent committed themselves. Now that those opportunities are rarer he wants to be able to end the point immediately. Consequently he has stopped holding his motion and just went inside-out the vast majority of the time.

As people noticed this they began retrieving those balls back more and sending them to his wide forehand. He has been then forced to shorten his swing to be able to go back to his wide forehand, rather than the big, almost jumping into the air forehand he used to have. Hence, a way to keep some pace while doing that was to hit flatter.

You don't make changes to a winning game without reason, and he has had to adjust to people adjusting to him.

Makes sense, except I think his backhand has become more of a liability, especially vs Nadal. Nadal has the ability to kick his strokes high against the Fed b hand. Now that he has a more traditional grip, he is only able to make a swing with less racquet-speed and an abbreviated follow-through- hence less pace/spin/depth.
If he changed back to a more extreme b hand grip, he would be able to handle the high ball a lot better.

BeHappy
12-27-2011, 08:32 AM
Federer has never had an extreme grip on his backhand in his entire career.

nereis
12-27-2011, 08:33 AM
Federer has no trouble hitting hard backhands, it is doing it under pressure and repeatedly on slow, high bouncing surfaces that has always eluded him. He clearly prefers taking balls off the bounce on the backhand side as it means he can use the opponent's pace and not have to generate it all himself.

Using a more extreme grip also means having to stand further back to keep his timing, meaning that he gives up court position. While on a slower surface that may be a viable strategy his forehand is such now that doing so make it even riskier.

You can't just change one facet of your game without changing everything else too. Hence the reason why Roddick now hits powderpuff balls.

To address BeHappy, I believe that OP was referring to the time when his grip was a slightly stronger eastern and he took his backhands later. Still no where near Gasquet's grip though.

BeHappy
12-27-2011, 08:40 AM
Federer has no trouble hitting hard backhands, it is doing it under pressure and repeatedly on slow, high bouncing surfaces that has always eluded him. He clearly prefers taking balls off the bounce on the backhand side as it means he can use the opponent's pace and not have to generate it all himself.

Using a more extreme grip also means having to stand further back to keep his timing, meaning that he gives up court position. While on a slower surface that may be a viable strategy his forehand is such now that doing so make it even riskier.

You can't just change one facet of your game without changing everything else too. Hence the reason why Roddick now hits powderpuff balls.

To address BeHappy, I believe that OP was referring to the time when his grip was a slightly stronger eastern and he took his backhands later. Still no where near Gasquet's grip though.

If anything, he took it earlier back then. I really don't believe he has ever changed his grips at all.

I do believe Gonzalez changed from a very extreme backhand grip to a more traditional one around 2005 though. That's really the only time I can remember that happening.

Lots of traditional grip backhanders have no trouble hitting the high ball by the way. Like Becker and Philippoussis, the best modern example is Almagro who definitely uses a traditional strong eastern grip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06CdClj1zj4



Federer himself has gotten better and better at this shot over the years. It really wasn't a problem in this years French Open final anymore.

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 08:44 AM
Federer has never had an extreme grip on his backhand in his entire career.

I don't mean he had an "extreme" grip, but one which was more extreme than the one he uses now.

BeHappy
12-27-2011, 08:46 AM
I don't mean he had an "extreme" grip, but one which was more extreme than the one he uses now.

I don't know how you could even tell the difference between someone using a mild or a strong (traditional) eastern backhand grip on a video.

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 08:48 AM
If anything, he took it earlier back then. I really don't believe he has ever changed his grips at all.

I do believe Gonzalez changed from a very extreme backhand grip to a more traditional one around 2005 though. That's really the only time I can remember that happening.

Lots of traditional grip backhanders have no trouble hitting the high ball by the way. Like Becker and Philippoussis, the best modern example is Almagro who definitely uses a traditional strong eastern grip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06CdClj1zj4



Federer himself has gotten better and better at this shot over the years. It really wasn't a problem in this years French Open final anymore.

You're probably right about Fed.
Becker and The Poo had trad grips by today's standards, but back in their hey-day they were probably considered more extreme and unconventional (esp Becker). Compare their grips to Lendl's or Mcenroe's. I think they used continentals for their backhands (like holding a hammer).

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 08:50 AM
I don't know how you could even tell the difference between someone using a mild or a strong (traditional) eastern backhand grip on a video.

Ye, I'm just making a judgement call based on the appearance of the racquet head and his wrist action. Like I said, I'm probably wrong as usual.

nikdom
12-27-2011, 08:51 AM
Federer used to play from deeper behind the baseline and retrieve balls a lot more than he does today, waiting for the short ball that he would immediately put away.

Back then, no one had any real idea how to read his game or dissect it so as long as he kept himself in the rally he could turn the tables on any short ball with his forehand.

As people began noticing that he made more errors off the backhand they started attacking it more and hitting deeper to it. Consequently he has been forced to compensate in two ways.

First, he has to take the ball off the bounce on the backhand to stop people from pushing him back with excessive topspin. This means that instead of an extreme grip he had to adopt a more conservative grip to allow him to be closer to the baseline.

Secondly, as people are hitting harder to his backhand and with more spin he very rarely has those short balls that he could skip around and send down the line or inside out for a winner. He used to accomplish this by waiting and holding the movement until his opponent committed themselves. Now that those opportunities are rarer he wants to be able to end the point immediately. Consequently he has stopped holding his motion and just went inside-out the vast majority of the time.

As people noticed this they began retrieving those balls back more and sending them to his wide forehand. He has been then forced to shorten his swing to be able to go back to his wide forehand, rather than the big, almost jumping into the air forehand he used to have. Hence, a way to keep some pace while doing that was to hit flatter.

You don't make changes to a winning game without reason, and he has had to adjust to people adjusting to him.

Interesting read. Personally I'm a little confused about the grip issue on the bh side when taking the ball early vs behind the baseline. To me, it isn't so much about where the shot is hit vis a vis the baseline but if a one hander is played slightly in front of the body vs when one has to play a defensive shot on the side of the body. Its harder to pronate the wrist so when I know I'm late getting to a bh shot, I will change my grip to help me with coming over the ball.

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 08:52 AM
I'm 41 years old btw. When I say "traditional" I mean a continental grip.

BeHappy
12-27-2011, 08:52 AM
You're probably right about Fed.
Becker and The Poo had trad grips by today's standards, but back in their hey-day they were probably considered more extreme and unconventional (esp Becker). Compare their grips to Lendl's or Mcenroe's. I think they used continentals for their backhands (like holding a hammer).

Becker definitely used a continental.

Lendl had a strong eastern grip and is another player who could absolutely decimate high balls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huC_6UCmDGY&feature=related

I can't remember the last time I saw two players hitting their one handed backhands like this.

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 08:54 AM
Interesting read. Personally I'm a little confused about the grip issue on the bh side when taking the ball early vs behind the baseline. To me, it isn't so much about where the shot is hit vis a vis the baseline but if a one hander is played slightly in front of the body vs when one has to play a defensive shot on the side of the body. Its harder to pronate the wrist so when I know I'm late getting to a bh shot, I will change my grip to help me with coming over the ball.

Wow you've got time to change your grip to come over it? The only thing I can do if I'm rushed is to change to continental to slice

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 08:57 AM
Becker definitely used a continental.

Lendl had a strong eastern grip and is another player who could absolutely decimate high balls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huC_6UCmDGY&feature=related

I can't remember the last time I saw two players hitting their one handed backhands like this.

Ahhh, those were the days- when men were men and openly abused one another across the net. Think Mac or Tarango, or Connors. Players have no nads these days.

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 08:59 AM
Becker definitely used a continental.

Lendl had a strong eastern grip and is another player who could absolutely decimate high balls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huC_6UCmDGY&feature=related

I can't remember the last time I saw two players hitting their one handed backhands like this.

"High balls" in those days. The high balls of todays game would've driven him nuts.

BeHappy
12-27-2011, 09:02 AM
"High balls" in those days. The high balls of todays game would've driven him nuts.

Well he dealt with Muster fine, who hit with as much topspin as anyone I've ever seen, even Nadal:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoMBxY7hgcQ


actually Muster is another player who could deal with the high ball well, although overall his backhand wasn't the weapon that his forehand was, it was still as good as Nadal's two hander for example.

passive_aggressive
12-27-2011, 09:03 AM
Most people would say he was more of an attacking player than he is now.

He's sort of gone the way of Roddick (more conservative), but less extreme.

His forehand grip may have crept slightly closer to western, I doubt his backhand changed at all. Actually, his forehand is probably the same as well.

As soon as you change your grip even slightly, you completely undo all those decades of muscle memory, and you have to start from scratch with basically a rec forehand/backhand. I doubt any pro would ever change their grip on any of their strokes for the entirety of their career for this reason.

jackson vile
12-27-2011, 09:08 AM
That is one hell of an analysis, very well done and written.

Federer used to play from deeper behind the baseline and retrieve balls a lot more than he does today, waiting for the short ball that he would immediately put away.

Back then, no one had any real idea how to read his game or dissect it so as long as he kept himself in the rally he could turn the tables on any short ball with his forehand.

As people began noticing that he made more errors off the backhand they started attacking it more and hitting deeper to it. Consequently he has been forced to compensate in two ways.

First, he has to take the ball off the bounce on the backhand to stop people from pushing him back with excessive topspin. This means that instead of an extreme grip he had to adopt a more conservative grip to allow him to be closer to the baseline.

Secondly, as people are hitting harder to his backhand and with more spin he very rarely has those short balls that he could skip around and send down the line or inside out for a winner. He used to accomplish this by waiting and holding the movement until his opponent committed themselves. Now that those opportunities are rarer he wants to be able to end the point immediately. Consequently he has stopped holding his motion and just went inside-out the vast majority of the time.

As people noticed this they began retrieving those balls back more and sending them to his wide forehand. He has been then forced to shorten his swing to be able to go back to his wide forehand, rather than the big, almost jumping into the air forehand he used to have. Hence, a way to keep some pace while doing that was to hit flatter.

You don't make changes to a winning game without reason, and he has had to adjust to people adjusting to him.

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 09:12 AM
Well he dealt with Muster fine, who hit with as much topspin as anyone I've ever seen, even Nadal:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoMBxY7hgcQ


actually Muster is another player who could deal with the high ball well, although overall his backhand wasn't the weapon that his forehand was, it was still as good as Nadal's two hander for example.

Muster. I remember watching a match where he openly abused Mark Woodford across the net. Funny!
I think he had something like an extreme eastern b hand. He did hit with a lot of topspin, but not with as much speed as Nadal.

Fedchamp
12-27-2011, 09:18 AM
I think the top players generally hit the ball with greater spin these days . Hewitt/Safin/Sampras/Agassi hit a noticeablly flatter ball than Djok/Nadal/Murray. I think this is a major reason Fed no longer dominates these guys. I feel a ball hit with greater spin is harder to time than a flatter one.

BeHappy
12-27-2011, 09:19 AM
Muster. I remember watching a match where he openly abused Mark Woodford across the net. Funny!
I think he had something like an extreme eastern b hand. He did hit with a lot of topspin, but not with as much speed as Nadal.

He actually had an eastern if you look at his hand and how laid back it was when he hit the ball.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/gallery_images/photos/000/703/441/GYI0063126913_crop_450x500.jpg?1295575526


The point is, it isn't as simple as extreme grip for high balls and spin, Federer's proven that on the forehand, and lots of players have proven it on the backhand too.

passive_aggressive
12-27-2011, 09:36 AM
He actually had an eastern if you look at his hand and how laid back it was when he hit the ball.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/gallery_images/photos/000/703/441/GYI0063126913_crop_450x500.jpg?1295575526


The point is, it isn't as simple as extreme grip for high balls and spin, Federer's proven that on the forehand, and lots of players have proven it on the backhand too.

Right, put your money where your mouth is;

Which pros hit with lots of spin on their backhand, belying their conservative backhand grips?

And likewise, which pros hit very flat, belying their extreme backhand grips?

BeHappy
12-27-2011, 10:17 AM
Right, put your money where your mouth is;

Which pros hit with lots of spin on their backhand, belying their conservative backhand grips?

And likewise, which pros hit very flat, belying their extreme backhand grips?


Muster/Costa/Correjta hit with with lots of spin, belying their conservative bachand grips.

Justine Henin hit pretty flat, although she could do anything with that shot and would spin it up on clay, but on fast hard courts she hit flat and hard. There are very very few players who use this grip, (albeit most of them are very famous) so it's hard to find examples. Almagro has a conservative grip and like Henin can do both. Pioline could do it all with his conservative grip too.

ultradr
12-27-2011, 12:54 PM
Justin Henin uses exterem eastern backhand grip (should i say semi-western backhand grip?). She showed it on tennis channel. She is short and had to deal
with lots of high balls.

BeHappy
12-27-2011, 02:38 PM
Justin Henin uses exterem eastern backhand grip (should i say semi-western backhand grip?). She showed it on tennis channel. She is short and had to deal
with lots of high balls.

Yeah she definitely does. The players who definitely use it are Gaudio, Henin, Gasquet and Kuerten. Gaudio in particular had a much more extreme grip than anyone else even compared to the rest of the extreme easterners.