Best forehand of the last 25 years.

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Cesc Fabregas, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    There are no standalone shots in tennis. Every shot either begins after a serve or a return. Now, consider the following:

    Was his FH powerful enough to hit through the best baseliners of his era ? Yes
    Was his FH consistent enough to stand in rallies against the best baseliners of his era ? Yes
    Was his FH approach shot among the best in his era ? Yes, it was the best in the OE.
    Was his running FH the best in the OE ? Yes, it was.
    Was he able to hit his FH inside-out/CC/DTL ? Yes

    Sampras had one of the best FH's, ever.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013
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  2. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

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    When comparing the shots of the greats you really need to consider how much the forehand factored into their game. When Nadal beat Fed in the French Open 2005-2007 all he had was a forehand.

    Nadal's Forehand and movement was enough to beat Fed's very good forehand and movement, superior serve, superior backhand, better net and transition game.

    If Fed had the better forehand Nadal wouldn't be able to touch him.
     
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  3. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    For consistency day in and day out, give me Lendl's forehand. Had he used today's racquets and strings, OMG what a thumper. Nadal's is awfully good as well but with the Fed, the wheels can come off and you'll see more mis-hits from him in one set than you would see in a season from Agassi. Lots of good ones, heck on a given day who wouldn't want Gonzo's forehand.
     
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  4. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    For me Federer's forehand is the best of the Open Era without a doubt.

    With respect to Sampras's forehand:

    tennis is more complex than what you may think.

    In general, Sampras's forehand was more of a hit or miss shot, than a consistent shot.

    Of course sometimes in some matches he chose to use his forehand in a more conservative way, cutting down unforced errors, working slowly the point and in those times his forehand "looked" better, but in fact it was worse for him in general doing that.

    The few times when he tried to engage in very long baseline rallies and trying to keep focused during almost all the points in the match, he usually got mentally and physically tired and in general had worse results doing so.

    Against the very same players in the very same courts (no matter if it was quick or slow), when he chose to use his forehand way more aggresively, more of a hit or miss shot, even if he did A LOT of forehand unforced errors and his forehand "looked worse" in those matches, he usually won those matches easily.

    It is deceiving. When he chose to use it more "carelessly", he did a ton of unforced errors (many of them in not important points, when 30-0 down in return games, for example), and so his forehand looked erratic, but he kept the points short doing so, he was physically fresher during the match, and then in the most important return games of a set (or the match) he won many crucial points with his forehand, because in those moments he made way less unforced errors.

    If you have watched hundreds of Sampras matches, you realize that, basically, all the important breaks of serve he made in those crucial final games of a set, he did it with his forehand. No matter how many stupid unforced errors he did during the set, because there was one return game in which he played two, three or four perfect points with his forehand and then he got the crucial break of serve.

    I really think Sampras could never play totally focused in each point like a Borg, Wilander, Lendl or Nadal.

    He had much better results when he played "carelessly", almost not thinking at all, except for one or two important return games each set. The rest of each set, it was better for him to hit or miss, because then he kept the points short and he could be mentally and physically fresher for the few important return games in each set.

    He used his backhand to keep him in the point (rarely used it to try to hit baseline winners), and all the important points he won in those crucial break of serve he did it with his forehand.

    That is why it is a bit deceiving. For long parts of a match, he chose to use it carelessly and hit a ton of unforced errors. But in the important return games of each set, when the score was 3-3, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5 for example (and of course in every service game) he kind of got in a more alert state and won so many crucial poinst with his forehand.

    In other words, you put (for example) Rafter's forehand (that could look to many people way more consistent than Sampras's forehand, even if way less destructive) in Sampras's game and I think Sampras win maybe 1 GS at most in his whole career.

    It is very difficult to isolate one single stroke from a player complete arsenal and game, because the way a player use any stroke it is TOTALLY related and dependent on all the rest of his game and strategy.

    Federer's forehand is (for me) the best of the Open Era.

    ¿Sampras forehand?. It is very difficult to rate it (because of the way he chose to use it), but it clearly was his MAIN weapon along with his serve (for me even above his volleys) because of the especial way he played tennis (the way he got to break serve was always based on his forehand).

    So I would rate his forehand as top-10 in the Open Era just because of how important that stroke was in his game (and all he won with the way he played tennis).
     
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  5. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    I was really contemplating putting him above Federer when I first read this thread, but he also has a tendency to drop the ball short, which can get him into a lot of trouble. On the other hand, though, he's more consistent than just about any of the other major contenders for best forehand. It's a bit of a trade-off, though - he's more consistent because he hits it with less depth - so it kind of all comes down to what you prefer. Lendl was somewhere in between the two. He had the consistency, the depth, the winners, but he also wasn't as creative and versatile as either Nadal or Federer are. I think those three are clearly the top three. In what order, I really couldn't say. Beyond that, it gets really hard to compare because a forehand can do so many things and work in so many ways in and out of the context of a player's game - too many things to think about, really.
     
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  6. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    I want to see Nadal's forehand with a wooden racquet and strung with gut just to see what he can still do with it.
     
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  7. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    You could ask the same thing about anyone who doesn’t use a wooden racquet with gut these days. That would be everybody. But you are not asking.

    If you mean there is something special to Nadal’s particular racquet that gives him that forehand, then you need to be reminded that players don't have exclusive use of their equipment. Racquets are not Formula One engines. If you believe the racquet alone is responsible for his forehand, you need tell us why isn't everybody else using that same racquet and strings. Or why do those who use that same racquet and strings fail to get the same results.

    In short, you need to remember that tennis strokes are executed by players, not by racquets.
     
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  8. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    glad that someone else atleast remembers and mentions that ferrero had a pretty good FH at his peak .......
     
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  9. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    true, about Ferrero. During Ferrero's peak, I remember Safin saying the mosquito had the best fh on tour. You don't beat Agassi and Hewitt b2b on a hc without a punishing fh.

    Also people seem to forget Moya's fh. He didn't have a backhand but because he had a devastating fh, he was able to win a major and a couple of masters..
     
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  10. spinovic

    spinovic Hall of Fame

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    Ferrero's FH was great, for sure. Still think Soderling deserves a little love too.
     
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  11. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    I agree, but todays technology allows for angles, power and spin that were almost impossible before. I'm not saying he wouldn't have by comparison to all using the same equipment, still a great forehand, but I'm just curious as to how much he would lose (like all would lose) from that weapon of his.

    If you think that Nadal was suddenly to use a 65 sq. in. wooden racket strung with only gut and you wouldn't see a difference in his strokes, you're sadly mistaken. This isn't a slam on him, rather I'm just curious as to what his forehand would look like vs. others that played during that wooden era. That's all.
     
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  12. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Feer-o was and always be better than ferrer.That O means a lot of difference...
     
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  13. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Don't tell TMF; he seems to believe exactly that.
     
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  14. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I think the answer is pretty simple. He could not hit with as much pace or as much spin as he does with his racquet, but he would probably still hit with more pace and spin than most, if he had been raised with wood and chose to play that way. It’s not as if spin was impossible prior to modern racquets. As far back as 1925, Tilden wrote a book called "Match, Play and The Spin of The Ball". He was not hallucinating or writing science fiction. And if you have ever seen guys like Vilas or Borg play, you know they could put a lot more topspin on their shots than most of their contemporaries. They did it with wood racquets. And ping-pong players need only a little paddle to put lots of spin on the ball if they want to.
     
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  15. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    I have always been very impressed by Grosjean's forehand.
    He seems to generate incredible pace with minimal effort.

    As for the best forehand since 1988, it's imo
    Peak Fed >> Peak Nadal >>>> Peak Sampras
     
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  16. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    true, moya had a terrific FH as well ......
     
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  17. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree that Kodes backhand was at a superior level than his forehand.And his volleys and movement and stamina and willing to win far above his serve...
     
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