Courier's backhand...was it that bad??

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by VictorS., Dec 22, 2004.

  1. VictorS.

    VictorS. Professional

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    I know there's been a lot of talk on this board about the ugliness and inadequecy of Jim Courier's backhand. With his extreme grip and baseball-like swing....it's not exactly a textbook stroke. But after watching him on the senior circuit, I'm wondering whether this weakness is a little overblown. It's obvious it's not quite up to par with his devastating forehand, but I would even venture to say it's a better shot than roddick's backhand. I was watching the forget-courier match recently and forget's backhand was much more of a liability than courier's. Forget mostly hit defensive slices. What do you guys think? Was it that bad of a shot?
     
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  2. tamdoankc

    tamdoankc Rookie

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    I think from a technical standpoint Roddick's backhand is better than Courier's. He lost to Edberg at the US Open Final because he couldn't pass or return from the backhand side. After that he improved it 100% and killed Edberg at the AU Open.
     
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  3. VamosRafa

    VamosRafa Hall of Fame

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    That's the key. For all Jim's supposed lack of talent, he did win 4 GS titles, and reached the finals at the other two slams. Even on grass, where he couldn' supposedly play, he managed to reach the Wimbly final.

    Courier didn't have the talent of a Sampras or Federer, but not many do. But he showed what you can with supreme fitness, and a great inside-out forehand. And he did it while facing Sampras, Agassi, Chang, etc.

    I hope he becomes the US Davis Cup captain when Patrick is done.
     
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  4. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    It was definitely better than Roddicks....there's no question about it. Jim's backhand stood up to attacks from Agassi, Mcenroe, Edberg, Becker etc.....it surely was not a strength...but it was satisfactory.

    The main thing compared to Roddick is that Jim hit passing shots and returns about 200% better off the backhand side. He also was much better at taking the ball early, though not nearly as good as Andre. On deep rallies behind the baseline it's a crapshoot. Of course the other factor is that Jim had consistently better footwork and better balance.

    The biggest problem for Jim was that his short preparation and extreme grip meant he sometimes had trouble driving through the ball and getting as much as say Agassi can on low balls. Also at times he would meet the ball a bit too far out in front and use mainly arm strength to get his pace. It was also hard for Jim to hit crosscourt when he was at all late getting to the shot. This wasn't so much a problem as he tended to always favour the backhand corner anyways. Still....most of the time it was certainly adequate and when pressed he certainly could come up with some great shots. It's just that the backhand was mediocre while the forehand was a thing of terror.
     
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  5. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    Put it this way, Jim's backhand was much better than Edberg's forehand. And it's all relative, they were both #1 in the world and they both won mulitiple grand slams.
     
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  6. Craig Sheppard

    Craig Sheppard Hall of Fame

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    ...And as a side note--why can't they get Edberg out on the Senior tour? That's all I've been waiting for, to see him again! Mats and Boris are back, come on Stefan! I already enjoy watching the Senior Tour more than the regular tour, with Stefan it'd just be over the top.

    Craig
     
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  7. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

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    No, very SOLID backhand., just not an unbelievable backhand like his forehand. It really is as Andre Agassi put it in Gilbert's book. Courier's allegedly "weak" backhand is misunderstood and misinterpreted. It's actually a very good shoot according to Agassi, but it's one real failing, and it is a significant one, is that he's no good when you make him hit it on the run. I fully concur.

    People say Courier hit his backhand like a baseball swing. Put it this way, just how effective do you think a baseball swing would be if the batter never got a chance to dig his feet into the plate? A batter needs to set his feet. Courier was the same way on his backhand.

    If you made him run and hit it, there was no great facility on the run like Coria, Venus, and Bliip who were/are comfortable hitting open stance backhands when pressed.

    I've seen A LOT of Courier, and his backhand was always nothing but very solid. It was not an easy shot to attack. He just never really attacked you on that side, and he never really came up with any highlight reel stuff off that side, and his technique was too rigid hitting it on the run. I would describe his backhand as a rock, rock solid but nothing to be frightened of. It is what it was.

    As a general rule though most alleged "weaknesses" in pro's games are not really that glaring. Even Berasategui's backhand which is probably the most notorious backhand for a "name" player in the modern era, was actually quite solid. It was basically just a slightly less powerful version of Courier's, same weaknesses. Could rally all day with it, but never really do anything spectacular off it, or really improvise off it, or hit on the run too well with it. Solid, but unspectacular. Courier's was solid as well, except coming from a physically bigger man, hence a slightly heavier rally backhand than Berasategui's.

    Still though, if Berasategui or Courier's backhands were truly THAT bad as is stereotyped, they would NEVER have been able to have been top players. You just can't literally have a weakness that bad and still make it to the top...not as a baseliner, you can't. Everyone will gun for it...and get chance, after chance, after chance, after baseline point chance to try and expose it. Throughout their careers everyone ALWAYS knew which side to attack on these two, but they held steady off that wing for the most part. Held their own long enough to put themselves in position to hit their DEVASATING, all-time great level forehands.

    I think that the reason their backhands are stereotyped as being THAT bad is simply because their backhands were so blatantly overshadowed by their SUPERIOR forehands. By comparison, anyone's backhand would look weak...in reality, there's were very solid. It had to be that way in order for them to hang in points long enough to unleash their forehands. The primary order/duty of their backhands was to keep the point neutral until they got a chance to hit their forehands. It's like how Rafter learned to stay with the big baseliners in his late career renaissance...he used his slice to repeatedly neutralize the big bang power and keep the point going nowhere until he got a chance to approach the net.
     
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  8. davey25

    davey25 Banned

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    It wasnt that bad but there are many better. The only players in the top ten now who would have a weaker backhand would be Moya or Roddick perhaps.
     
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  9. Roforot

    Roforot Professional

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    Edberg has apparently decided to retire w/ some degree of respectability and decorum. I have heard however that he is now an avid squash player and obviously quite good at it. He and Patrick Rafter were my 2 favorite players as I began to play this sport!
     
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  10. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

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    Well I don't know if I'd call it respectability and decorum...after all, is it that uncouthe to play a few for the fans in old age? Heck, Leconte's getting more out of shape by the minute, but people still love to watch him play. And Muster went 50 plus pounds overboard in the weight department before deciding to use the seniors tour as motivation to regain his health again.

    I think actually it's that Edberg doesn't want to travel anymore, or at least that's what I read from him. He still enjoys playing exhibitions and such, but he said he simply refuses to actually travel-travel anymore; because he had enough of that when he was touring.

    They've been trying to recruit Edberg, forever, but it just again boils down to him not wanting to travel at all anymore, but one day exhibitions near him, however, and he's still happy to join the festivities.

    I agree though that Edberg is only guy really missing from the fray on the Seniors Tour. Well, he and Lendl. If they joined it, it would really be something to watch. None of the new stars seem to have the same draw as the old ones. I guess in way it's like comparing the days of Hulk Hogan, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibase, Tito Santana, The Macho Man Randy Savage, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, Bret the Hitman Hart, Brutas the Barber Beefcake, Ravishing Rick Rude, Dino Bravo, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Junkyard Dog, The Ulitmate Warrior, Hercules, etc. to the new cast and crew. The new "characters" maybe more 'realistic' and often use their real names now, but they sure ain't as colorful a cast, not collectively and not individually.

    There was just simply more character back then. The top players seemed to have more of a DISTINCT identity for me. This new generation's just never seemed to come alive for me, they just seem like really good players, not STARS in their OWN right.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that today's top players and characters don't seem *larger than life* anymore, well, at least not to me.

    To me, even a guy like Edberg. He was hardly an outgoing fellow on the court, but I tell you his demure demeanor was SO refined and demure that it became a *distinguishable,* living/breathing character in its own right if you know what I mean.

    Same can be said for a guy like Lendl, who was so over the top Terminator-ish. He was like Ivan Drago, only not a movie character.

    Brad Gilbert? Heck, the seniors tour needs Brad Gilbert too! Why the heck isn't he playing? It would do wonders for his book sales? Seriously, I honestly don't get why he's not out there winning ugly...even though his strokes were actually fairly utilitarianly textbook pretty?

    Brad Gilbert = Ric Flair on a bad hair day.
     
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  11. SC in MA

    SC in MA Semi-Pro

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    Nice posts !Tym. I really liked your assessment of Courier's backhand. I never thought of it as a weakness, but I guess one could think that relative to his forehand. The bottom line is that you just don't win French Opens (plural) with a bad backhand. It can't be done.

    Also, good point about Brad Gilbert. I always thought he was a very interesting player to watch. Given that he now seems to have more notoriety than when he was actually playing, I think he would be a draw on the Seniors Tour. If anything, it would be interesting to see what tactics he would use against the bigger name players. He's always been an underdog with an uncanny ability to win, going back at least to his Junior College days playing and winning against the top Stanford players (maybe McEnroe?).
     
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  12. VictorS.

    VictorS. Professional

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    Brad Gilbert can definitely still play at a fairly high level. Obviously, working out and hitting with the #2 player in the world on a regular basis doesn't hurt. But I recall seeing an exhibition match (on tv) between Gilbert and Chang not too long ago. Chang had just recently retired I believe and Gilbert beat him pretty easily.
     
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  13. VamosRafa

    VamosRafa Hall of Fame

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    I'd cast my vote for Moya. Although it's hard to tell, since he runs around it so much.
     
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  14. sm-2004

    sm-2004 New User

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    He can play guitar, though. I am not sure that Sampras and Federer can.... :)
     
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  15. splink779

    splink779 Guest

    Anybody have any clips of Courier at all? I really want to see him, but I've never had the chance.
     
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  16. mista-k

    mista-k Rookie

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    LOOKING BACK wouldve been better if courier had a tan and straight long blonde hair...he still looks like some albino freak....but after awhile I learned to like his mental game more than his baseballish strokes....its so awesome...HES MENTAL!!!!!
     
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  17. johnathan smith

    johnathan smith Rookie

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    Courier was a beast. At his best, for 2 years he dominated the tour with a power baseline style that was ahead of it's time.
    I have some of courier's best matches on vhs and dvd (davis-cup and french Open etc.)
    Let me know and Merry Christmas, jwhtennis777@yahoo.com
     
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  18. laurie

    laurie Guest

    I think Courier had a shot that is so unique that no one can copy it. From that point of view I wouldn't call it a weakness. In fact I would call it a strength! It made him stand out from other players. As an athlete or musician etc it adds to his individuality as a player if he has something that is unique. And most of his rivals don't have 4 slams and 2 Davis Cups to their credit.
     
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  19. jun

    jun Semi-Pro

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    It was a pretty much average two handed bh shot. If he just had to rally bh crosscourt, then he could probably hang in there, but he wasn't really able to hit a forcing shot. And when you got him on the move, that's when his vulnerability became really exposed.
     
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