Better Backhand to imitate: Safin or Nalbandian

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Mansewerz, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Messages:
    9,164
    Location:
    Caught in No Man's Land
    I feel like my backhand is becoming a bigger weapon than my forehand (at least at the moment), and I wonder which backhand I should imitate more to get the most out of my backhand.

    Safin
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WReGiDn9tU8

    Nalbandian
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM2s8q1cOpI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90HhzBiU_K0

    From what I can see, the only difference my untrained eyes can notice is a slightly longer takeback by Nalbandian.

    As of now, that is my only concern. I'm getting better at taking my backhand off the rise, and I don't want to extend my takeback too much to make taking it off the rise harder. Does Nalbandian take it off the rise well? How about Safin? Who does it better?

    Thanks
     
    #1
  2. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Messages:
    13,916
    Nalbandian and Safin fundamentally have different backhands from a more advanced standpoint (meaning minuscule things that would never apply to amateur players like us).



    Safin usually has his arms fairly close to his body, and hits with an eastern forehand grip with his left hand. Nalbandian has a bigger take back and a bigger loop than Safin, and hits with a semi-western to western backhand. There's alot more to it, but that is the general gist.



    Nalbandian actually has the more conventional backhand though because he's a little bit less flashy than Marat. Safin tends to do abit too much driving and hits abit too flat for my tastes. Nalbandian can drive and spin very well, but also has a fairly easy motion to copy compared to Safin, who's actually not as easy to copy as you think.
     
    #2
  3. nfor304

    nfor304 Banned

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Messages:
    1,456
    Nalbandian's backhand is better from defensive positions, and he uses his left hand on the backhand better than anyone. This to me makes it a more versatile shot as he can hit it hard and flat like Safin or he can find sharp angles or apply heavy spin when he needs to.

    I would say Nalbandian's backhand is the better of the two to imitate
     
    #3
  4. BU-Tennis

    BU-Tennis Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    Messages:
    488
    Location:
    West Virginia
    I have always been a fan of Safin's backhand. When he's on, he can do the most on that side than almost any other player.
     
    #4
  5. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Messages:
    9,164
    Location:
    Caught in No Man's Land
    Really? I'm surprised Nalbandian's is easier to copy. I always thought his was more complex.
     
    #5
  6. dirkgnuf

    dirkgnuf Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Messages:
    363
    NAMRanger,
    If you're up for it, could you break down Nalbandian's backhand for me, either here or in a new thread? Or if you have before could you post a link to that?
    I've recently decided to start my backhand from scratch, not that it was any good to begin with, and I'm trying to adapt a simplified Nalbandian style backhand to use, and any analysis of the stroke would helpe me tremendously. Thanks.
     
    #6
  7. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    10,942
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    The bottom line is that you should do what works best for you -- given your physique/anatomy, skill level and game. If you find that the Safin technique suits you and it produces good results, then go with it. Whether you emulate Safin or Nalbandian, you should adapt/modify it to your own body and ability level. Quite often, the pros will execute versions of some shots that are just too advanced for us mere mortals to get away with. Best to simplify, if needed -- find what works best for you.
     
    #7
  8. ten15

    ten15 New User

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    55
    I like Safin's better, but like systemicanomaly said: do whatever works for you. It's ok to base it off a pro's technique, but if you have to make a few changes here and there to make it work for you, don't be afraid to stray from Safin's or Nalbandian's style.
     
    #8
  9. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Messages:
    11,323
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    My backhand evolved over time (13 years). Originally, I just wanted to hit 2HBH because Agassi made it look so bad ass.

    I hit flatter now because I had to change my left hand grip from semiwestern to eastern (darn wrist injury). I love going down-the-line when the opportunity presents itself (Safin trademark). I get a kick out of hitting sharp-angled cross-court backhands when I can pull it off (Nalbandian trademark).

    Now if I could have Safin's power, Nalbandian's angles, and Rios' smoothness I'd be all set. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2009
    #9
  10. Mikael

    Mikael Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Messages:
    1,037
    Here they are one against the other!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCEJQ0NEe4Y

    Safin's is a little unconventional I feel in that sometimes his right arm almost appears to be in a continental grip, making for a very flat backhand.

    Like others have said Nalbandian's is smoother and more versatile, but lacks the pace.

    I think it's a tie!
     
    #10
  11. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    11,885
    My advice is this (and this is where the naturalist get me wrong). Learn how to hit a technically correct backhand.

    In other words, find the grips you like. Learn how the arms shape in the swing. Strengthen the top arm. Use your legs in the stroke.

    What will happen is you will then develop your backhand without worrying about "who you look like."

    Just develop your backhand around sound instruction and let you be you in your backhand.
     
    #11
  12. Double bagel

    Double bagel Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Also just keep in mind that those legendary Nalbandian acute crosscourt angles are the result of a 28in. racquet. Not that he couldn't produce epic trajectories with a 27in...just sayin'.
     
    #12
  13. stanfordtennis alum

    stanfordtennis alum Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,821
    Location:
    on a tennis court
    safin, hands down.. one of the best of all time
     
    #13
  14. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Messages:
    13,916


    Nalbandian has alot less moving parts in his backhand, while Safin starts out bent, then drops, and then pulls up to hit. Nalbandian more or less starts out with a fairly straight take back. Safin's backhand is quite intricate to Nalbandian, who has a fairly straight forward backhand (gets in position, takes back, drops, lifts and hits).



    However, it really doesn't matter as Bungalo Bill said, because you should focus on what allows you to make clean contact.
     
    #14
  15. Drop Shot 11

    Drop Shot 11 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    236
    Location:
    Madagascar.
    Just don't imitate, do what feels good to you, and stick with it.
     
    #15
  16. FitzRoy

    FitzRoy Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,415
    I would say that both of them have backhands that are more similar than they are different. I wouldn't focus on the parts where they're different. They both have key elements like unit turn, hip rotation, extension through the ball...once you learn a fundamentally sound backhand, then your own 'style' should develop from there.
     
    #16
  17. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Messages:
    9,164
    Location:
    Caught in No Man's Land
    Cool, thanks for the advice. My main interest recently has been having compact enough strokes to take the ball off the rise well. For example, my forehand takeback is now more Safin esque.

    I'm just curious though. Does Nalbandian hit off the rise well?
     
    #17
  18. Grizvok

    Grizvok Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Messages:
    607
    He could do everything with his backhand, especially hit off the rise.
     
    #18
  19. Tyrus

    Tyrus Professional

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Messages:
    889
    Location:
    Chicago
    I am 100% behind everybody that says find the backhand that works for you. Since you like your backhand, i'd change nothing.

    Do you want to plow flat through and hit it back with some pace, or scoop it up and load it with topspin. Find what works for you.
     
    #19
  20. dave333

    dave333 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    Messages:
    2,018
    #20
  21. stoble

    stoble Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Messages:
    416
    #21
  22. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    11,885
    Most pros hit on the rise which is why they take the majority of their balls in the strike zone for their gri and they are able to stay pretty close to the baseline.

    If you want a compact swing, Agassi is another one. However, like I said, having the characteristics of someone's backhand isn't a bad thing. Just make sure you are hitting the ball with good technique and your natural talent and style will shine through it.
     
    #22
  23. imalil2gangsta4u

    imalil2gangsta4u Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,751
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    I think we should add Davydenko in on this topic. I think he could go toe to toe with Nalbandian and Safin. They all have perfect backhands IMO.
     
    #23

Share This Page