Greatest Forehands of All Time

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Jesus, I've just realized that pc1 had made a good attempt at an explanation and forzamilan had asked a similar question as me. It's a damn pity we can't have rich footage of those old greats.

    One more thing, I consider the Courier forehand at least better than Agassi's, without taking anything from Agassi.
     
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  2. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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  3. NonP

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    Thought about posting this on one of the Segura threads or the one Moose started on Vines' book, but since it's got mostly to do with Little Pancho's FH I thought I'd revive this (once) popular thread with a couple snippets from the book.

    Moose has posted most of this before but from pages 67-68:

    And also later from p. 68:

    Notice how deception/disguise is one of Vines' main criteria along with power and consistency/flexibility. Normally when we talk about a player's disguise we're referring to his serve, not his FH (or BH for that matter), so I was wondering why that might be the case. Anyone wanna take a crack at it? Is it just us or has disguise in fact taken a backseat in today's tennis? And if the latter what could be behind it? Perhaps we don't think about disguise as much because of the prevalence of the 2HBH, the (semi-)Western FH and the open stance? Would love to hear from those with the technical/historical know-how.

    A brief slowmo of the Segura FH here:



    It's a great shame we don't have very good footage of Segura's legendary shot or that he didn't get to play in this era. My recent reading of the old-timers' books has really enhanced my appreciation of them and though I've long maintained that the likes of Budge, Perry and Kramer deserve GOAT consideration I now think Don & Jack are clearly up there with the usual suspects (Tilden, Gonzales, Rosewall, Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer & Nadal).

    I was hoping to add the above quotes to Wiki's Segura article but frankly its citation is a mess and it's gonna take some time to sort it all out. And I've got more thoughts to share about the Vines book. Might do that on Moose's thread (or maybe start a new one) after I've gathered them in a presentable format.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
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  4. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I spoke to Segura a few years ago and I mentioned what a great forehand he had. He just replied that he had a good forehand which is perhaps the understatement of the century.

    Here's a scary description of Segura's forehand from Jack Kramer's book "How to Play Your Best Tennis All the Time."--Pancho Segura's forehand was the best single shot I ever played against---I rank it even better than Budge's backhand. Segura generated frightening pace on anything hit near his forehand. Unless you managed to hit the ball three to four feet from the baseline, he would usually put it away for a winner.

    Note that Kramer say it's the best single SHOT he played against, not just best forehand. Kramer played against a lot of great shots like Gonzalez's serve, Sedgman's volley, Budge's backhand and yet he says Segura's forehand was the best! A number of people like Vines and I believe Riggs also agree it was the best single shot.

    Incidentally notice that Vines compares Segura's forehand to other great forehands like Kramer and his own. I do think Kramer and Vines forehands should be higher up on the list. Budge's forehand is higher than both on the list and I think most who observed these players would rank Kramer's forehand and Vines' forehand higher.

    Actually Kramer in his other book The Game writes that Segura's shot was the best he had seen, not just that he had played against.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  5. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I would think so, too. Kramer and Vines had strong forehands that were real weapons; it was Vines' bread and butter from the baseline. Roughly the same was true for Pancho Gonzalez.

    I've seen reports about Budge's forehand, in ALT and other places, that describe it as something of an underrated shot; and sometimes it was surprisingly good, in terms of stats and statements in match reports.

    But still I'd say Kramer, Vines, Pancho G. all should be listed above Budge.

    NonP, looking forward to your comments.
     
  6. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Budge's forehand was an excellent shot but I don't think I have ever seen it on lists of all time great forehands.

    I'm not sure if a good comparison to Budge wouldn't be Djokovic today. Djokovic's backhand imo is one of the all time greatest and his forehand is superb but not ranked up there with the greats although I'm beginning to wonder if his forehand (Djokovic's) shouldn't be up there also considering the present level. Like Djokovic, Budge could hit a lot of backhand down the line winners.
     
  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Great comparison imo. Budge's FH was his weaker wing but I don't recall reading of it breaking down, or people going there with the hope of breaking it down. They might go there simply to avoid his BH, but Budge's forehand was often praised as consistent, and it was credited with a lot of winners. I believe somewhere I saw a match report with more FH winners than BH winners, from Budge. I've definitely seen that for Djokovic.
     
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  8. stronzzi70

    stronzzi70 Professional

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    Gonzalez 19 ???? ,,, I am not agree
     
  9. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    These days it's very rare to have a backhand that is better than your forehand in absolute terms. For a guy like Djokovic his backhand is relatively better compared to other backhands on the tour than his forehand is. He will tend to hit more winners with the forehand but also more errors. I think his backhand is better off the pass , drop shot, lob and is excellent at opening up the court.
     
  10. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    In absolute terms my first thought is that Jimmy Connors' backhand was superior to his forehand and his forehand was an excellent shot. Can't think of any others besides Don Budge. Connors was described by Jack Kramer to be similar to Budge in hitting style ironically.

    Justine Henin's backhand was raved about but I thought her forehand in absolute terms was better as with Vilas' backhand and his forehand.

    Ah, just thought of a player and that would be Arthur Ashe who had a superior backhand in absolute terms to his forehand which was very good.
     
  11. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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  12. Meles

    Meles G.O.A.T.

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    Here is slow mo from 1965:
    won't_embedhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMkIt2_xucswon't_embed

    Just after 20 seconds you see one in his prime (1949):


    Someone names Seles did pretty well with a two-handed forehand, so Segura's could be the best...
     
  13. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Imo there is NO reason that Djokovic's Fh shouldn't be right up there with the best if not at the top. Seems people are remembering more about when he came on tour and letting the Bh overshadow his Fh....big mistake Imo.
     
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  14. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    His forehand is certainly not at the top. Federer's and Nadal from his own era have better forehands. His forehand is definitely an excellent shot though these days, it let him down in big matches in that 12-14 period though.
     
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  15. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    A little more on Segura. I think the best video I've seen on his forehand.
    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/v...-pro-tennis-tournement-news-footage/594665767

    I like the smoothness of Segura's serve and volley. Not necessarily the serve but the way he moves in and hits his backhand volley.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
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  16. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    It's not the top but it has improved immensely. Like almost every part of his game now it seems to be impenetrable.

    Unbelievable to me how he has improved his game over the years. His serve, volley, forehand and even backhand has improved. His gluten free diet helped his stamina also. Who would have believed in 2010 that he would be the player he is now.
     
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  17. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    He's incredibly good from the back of the court. But I do think tour conditions are helping him.
     
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  18. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    It would interesting to see some of the Open Era impenetrable baseliners hit against Djokovic under today's conditions. Players like Borg, Wilander, Lendl, maybe Agassi and Connors.
     
  19. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    I think Wilander would be able to frustrate Djokovic tactically - sort of like Simon did at the AO. Guys like Borg, Lendl, Agassi and Connors could hit through him so it would depend on how aggressive and consistent they were.
     
  20. Simon_the_furry

    Simon_the_furry Semi-Pro

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    Jack Sock, anybody?
    Fabrice Santoro?
     
  21. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Wilander certainly did frustrate Lendl tactically at the 1988 US Open final which is one of my favorite matches. We often forget how great Wilander's stamina was. He, like Borg never seemed to get tired.

    To keep on topic a little, Wilander's forehand, while not super powerful was a very strong consistent (and consistent is an understatement) shot. Of course Wilander's forehand was great at passing players.
     
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  22. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Off topic but in your opinion who are the greatest tacticians on a tennis court?

    Sometimes consistency wins out over power, I find that a lot when I play :D. Being able to absorb and redirect pace, keep good depth etc...is just as useful as power.
     
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  23. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I don't think so. In my opinion, Djokovic is much to great a defender to be frustrated or hit through by anyone. Not consistently, anyway. Simon played Djokovic differently, hitting a lot to the middle, trying to take away Djokovic's angles. It worked enough to take the match to 5 sets, but, not enough to win, and I have doubts that it would work as well a second time.
     
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  24. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Federer has hit through Djokovic numerous times - Nadal has done it on clay at least. It is possible.

    Wilander would have no problem playing patiently and up the middle IMO.
     
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  25. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Historically I would say Tilden, Riggs, Kramer, Segura, Gonzalez, Borg, Lendl, Wilander, Lacoste and perhaps Connors.

    Tilden was known for being a chessplayer on the court. Riggs was brilliant at finding his opponent's weaknesses. Kramer spotted any weakness and Segura was brilliant that way also.

    Borg is underrated in this area but I was amazed by his variety of styles in playing different opponents. Lendl was great at formulating plans as sort of proven by his great coaching of Andy Murray. Lacoste used to keep detailed notes on every player and we all know how brilliant he was.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
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  26. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Gonzalez wouldn't have been someone that I immediately thought of.
     
  27. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    (Last edited on 25 March 2010. Wow! Just about 6 years ago.)
    Any suggested additions, deletions, alterations?

    1. Federer
    2. Segura
    3. Lendl
    4. Sampras
    5. Borg
    6. Nadal
    7. Laver
    8. Agassi
    9. Courier
    10. Cochet
    11. Tilden
    12. Perry
    13. Budge
    14. Santana
    15. Okker
    16. Johnston
    17. Nastase
    18. Vines
    19. Gonzales
    20. Kramer
    21. Becker
    22. Safin
    23. del Potro
    24. Blake
    25. Moya
     
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  28. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Nadal should definitely be above Sampras. Not sure where I would put Djokovic yet.
     
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  29. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Trabert posted a good tactical analysis of how to beat Djokovic....I think that a powerful serve and volley game would upset his rhythm.
     
  30. 70sHollywood

    70sHollywood Semi-Pro

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    Hmmm, Ken Rosewall?:D
     
  31. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Djokovic has hit through Federer and Nadal, too. In any event, I think that approach is the least likely to be effective against Djokovic. Wilander has nothing to hurt Djokovic with. It seems to me that, at best, he can prolong the inevitable.
     
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  32. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Gonzalez or Gonzales?
     
  33. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I would put Nadal at #2. Segura below Lendl and Sampras. I would also probably put Agassi and Courier above Laver.
     
  34. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Sampras' forehand is OVERRATED! Powerful but some forehands are about as powerful but more consistent and accurate.

    Budge's forehand was excellent but I doubt if it's in the top fifty. Kramer used to exploit Budge's forehand in the pros.

    Kramer should be in the top ten. It had great power, consistency and his legendary sidespin forehand approach would pull a player off the court where Kramer would be at the net to pop the easy volley into the empty court. Kramer was timed in the 1950s with the old timing devices of the time at over 107 mph with a wood racquet. Generally he hit with topspin from the baseline with his forehand. He could lob well and hit sharp angles on passing shots.

    Both Tilden and Perry should be above Cochet. Perry's forehand has been called the greatest ever as has Tilden's.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
  35. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    delete post
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
  36. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    1. Federer
    2. Segura
    3. Lendl
    4. Nadal
    5. Borg
    6. Courier
    7. Agassi
    8. Kramer
    9. Laver
    10. Sampras
    11. Tilden
    12. Vines
    13. Perry
    14. Santana
    15. Okker
    16. del Potro
    17. Nastase
    18. Johnston
    19. Gonzales
    20. Becker
    21. Safin
    22. Cochet
    23. Hewitt
    24. Moya
    25. Budge
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  37. 70sHollywood

    70sHollywood Semi-Pro

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    I'd have thought Vines would be above most, if not all, of those old guys.
     
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  38. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I agree except it's hard to be detailed since I'm posting from my phone now.

    Another guy I'm not crazy about being on that list is James Blake. I mean he had an excellent forehand but in the top 25 ever?? I don't think so!
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  39. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    He was borderline. Gonzalez was known for disguising his shots so well that players often went the wrong way for his shots. He also learned from Segura to lob more often in order for it to pay dividends later in the match in that it may exhaust his opponents. He also learned to change his backhand grip against Hoad on their first tour so he could pass more effectively crosscourt. This indicates he could adjust very well to his opponents.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
  40. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I thought of Rosewall too but to be honest he's borderline to me because I cannot really think of him really using great tactics to win a match. And but that I mean changing his game.

    If he's on the list that fine. He lobbed very well but that was his normal game. He used a lot of angles and knew how to position himself in the right spot at the right time but that was a normal part of his game.
     
  41. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    The Gonzalez family prefers the z so I write it with the z. Probably doesn't make a big difference.
     
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  42. Meles

    Meles G.O.A.T.

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    Just watched the 88 US Open the other day myself and Wilander was quite masterful, so maybe he might have frustrated Djokovic, but somehow I think Djokovic and team would figure out a way before too long to deal with Wilander's plays. Wilander would get mauled by the Djokovic that has been showing up in finals lately. I don't think he could ever have stopped Djokovic in the form he has been displaying all too often in finals as of late.

    Federer needs a fast high bouncing court and then he can dominate Djokovic. Cincinnati match last year the Federer 2nd was much more effective with the higher bounce while the same second serve was mauled at Wimbledon. Djokovic was lucky to have super cool and slow conditions for US Open final last year. If Fed is in similar form this year and they meet on a sunny relatively warm 4 pm match, Federer would be likely to win. Djokovic is not invincible; it just takes the right player in the right conditions to beat him.
     
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  43. Meles

    Meles G.O.A.T.

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    I must be crazy, but I like Delpo's forehand better than Federers. Just watched him today and just an amazing forehand to watch. When Delpo gets charge of a rally, he just bludgeons the opponent into submission. I'd put Fernando Gonzales in for Blake. I'd also rate the Sampras forehand highly for the amazing running crosscourt forehand.

    Up and coming forehands (in no order):
    1. Jack Sock - when it's on, on hardcourt, its a real game changer (watch sets 2 and 3 from 2016 Auckland match with Ferrer)
    2. Thiem - combination of pace and heaviness impressive on clay where Thiem typically has more time to setup this shot. Quickly takes over most rallies with this shot (see the Ferrer match from 2016 Rio.)
    3. Taylor Fritz - showing Sampras like signs, but Fritz is oh so more aggressive from both sides on the ground. Flat penetrating strokes. A quickly developing, very young player who is getting scarier by the week (dismantled Bolleli in Miami yesterday.)
     
  44. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I meant Fernando or Pancho.
     
  45. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    There are too many changes I would make to Hood's latest list. So, here's my first pass:

    1. Federer
    2. Nadal
    3. Sampras
    4. Lendl
    5. Borg
    6. Courier
    7. Agassi
    8. Laver
    9. del Potro
    10. Vines
    11. Tilden
    12. Okker
    13. Segura
    14. Budge
    15. Kramer
    16. Becker
    17. Newcombe
    18. Kuerten
    19. F. Gonzalez
    20. Gimeno
    21. Chang
    22. Nastase
    23. Blake
    24. Vilas
    25. Santana
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  46. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I like your list better than mine.;)
     
  47. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Segura had a forehand which many like Vines, Kramer, Riggs thought was the greatest single shot of all time, not just the best forehand! Rodney George Laver, someone who knows a little about tennis called it the greatest forehand he had seen! Laver only started playing against Segura in the early 1960s when Segura was over 40 years old! There is no way he's out of the top ten. He's in the top five at worst and arguably number one. I would say on Hoodjem's list that any of the top five and Kramer could be argued as number one.

    LImpinhitter, we had to include clay court play also for Sampras. I cannot see Sampras' forehand as number three ahead of guys like Lendl and Borg.

    I do like your list Limpinhitter overall.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  48. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    I question Chang's inclusion. The likes of Moya, Ferrero, Tsonga, Berdych, Roddick, Safin - and especially Djokovic all had better forehands, even someone like Lleyton Hewitt could do more off his forehand side than Chang. That's just in recent times, some of the 90's clay court specialists surely had better forehands just from the same era.
     
  49. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I appreciate your feedback. Segura is a tough one for me. From what I've read, his forehand was certainly an all time great. And, from what little video I've seen he was a magnificent ball striker. But, I took a couple of factors into account that you may be overlooking. First is the inherent disadvantage Segura's grip dilemma - a two handed forehand with the left hand on the bottom and a one handed backhand with his right hand on the bottom. That may seem minor, but, minor things can make significant differences at even less than the highest level of play. Second, there is also the inherent disadvantage of hitting on the run/stretch with a a two handed stroke. Most 2hb players can also hit a 1 handed slice when they are stretched out. For those reasons, I ranked Segura's forehand as I did.

    As for Kramer, I can't see any basis to put him higher on my list. He had a great forehand, but, in my view, the players I put above him had better forehands. The forehand I may have over rated is Vines'. His forehand was monstrous, but, he was also a bit erratic. I could see putting his FH a bit lower, but, not higher.
     
  50. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Djokovic. I overlooked him. Let me think about that. As for the others, better in what way? Chang had a big forehand which was one of the most dependable strokes I've ever seen. I'm not sure what you mean by Hewitt could do more off his forehand side. What could he do that Chang couldn't do?
     

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