Greatest Forehands of All Time

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

  1. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Yes. I too did the same, and I was older...a cocky teenager. No old timer could touch our generation(I was a BIG hitter), don't even try your silly eastern backhand against my semi-western!

    It was....well several lines of education that opened my eyes. Not the least of which was having the chance to hit with PRO players of previous generations. NOT GREATS mind you, just journeymen/women...now I was no pro...but I hit with pro pace (pros and coaches like Vic Braden have told me this, and I knew it was true, arrogant as it may sound)....funny....I couldn't knock those former pros off the court...in fact, with their smooth strokes, perfect timing, and ability to use my pace against me, it was me, if anything who was getting overpowered, or at best, generally neutralized! They didn't say "wow, I never saw that kind of power!!" they said, "hey, you hit with good pace kid (too bad for you, it's nothing I haven't seen before, and I can use it against you...and also, I can hit plenty hard myself if I want!)."

    Later, as my eye for tennis, coaching knowledge etc. grew more refined, as my experiences on court grew more varied, I began to see the old footage in new light!" I realized that while they weren't leaping off the ground, swinging with all their might, these guys were hitting SOLID, HEAVY balls, with great balance, great footwork, and great control. Their heavy racquets were giving them pace and weight. I realized that MANY of them, at any moment they really wanted to, could generate every bit the pace of a player from any era! In fact, it was the smooth, clean strokes that made it deceptively easy for them to do so.

    I realized that human athletic norms haven't changed that much. That while the general level of athleticism has gone up, the top guys of any era were athletic prime beef, and would be so in any era.

    I began to see just how difficult it would be to play these guys, and just how effective their style is. I realized how foolish and ignorant my youthful arrogance had been.
     
  2. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I'm not certain about that basic premise either. The Federer forehand is amazing...having said that, there are tiny elements I don't like. I'd RATHER give it to Federer over Nadal for sure aesthetic qualities, but IS it better than Nadal's?? In some ways...in some ways Nadal's is better! And there are even journeymen pros who's forehand's could be in the argument. I would say from about the 90's onward their are more GREAT forehands on tour than ever before, but who's is best? I often don't weigh in on this topic, because frankly, there are too many good ones. In fact, some may have noticed, when there is a best forehand/backhand thread, when I do post, it's often just to list some of the greatest I recall from NON marquee players.....not only is it slightly boring to go over the same top 10 players over and over, when talking about one isolate element of the game, a physical stroke, it's possible the 5 best forehands on tour aren't even IN the top 10 ranked right now. A year ago, if you said "Del Potro" nobody would have paid any attention!
     
  3. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Putting Fed's FH over Segura's doesn't make much sense, either. The best we can say is that Fed's FH (or someone else's, for those with a different view) is the best we've seen. If some posters put one over the other then others should be allowed to respond with whatever evidence they have, including firsthand accounts by former pros and commentators. Note that the article you cited was a collection of verdicts by these very experts, just younger.

    I don't disagree with all this. There is certainly enough reason to think Segura's is at least comparable to Federer's. As for whose is better, I'll let you guys decide that.
     
  4. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Yes. Exactly.
     
  5. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Another thing I'd like to point out is that it's pretty tough to separate a FH or another single shot from the player's overall game. As far as pure mechanics is concerned Verdasco's FH may well be the best today, better than Nadal's or even Federer's, but he doesn't have the elite footwork, brains or tactical smarts of the two so his FH suffers in consistency as a result. The same can be said of another merely good player's FH from the past. It's just that the big names get the most recognition.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  6. World Beater

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    that would be difficult to do and i agree.

    hence i prefer "forehand side" rather than just isolating the forehand stroke on the baseline
     
  7. Smartbucks

    Smartbucks Banned

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    Flippers f-hand was good too.
     
  8. Changmaster

    Changmaster Rookie

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    Yes, BACK THEN Kramer, Vines, etc. thought Segura's fh was the best. But do they still think Segura's fh is the best ever TODAY, even after seeing great fhs such as Lendl, Sampras, Fed, Nadal, etc...? Like I said before, IF you were to make a list for greatest fhs ever, it makes more sense to have Fed's fh above Segura's. It is more logical to give precedence over that which we can carefully observe, than something more unknown.

    As for Connors' backhand being close to the Fed fh...ummm...If you're saying those two shots are very close in effectiveness, then considering the fact that Fed's forehand is likely the best fh ever, then you're saying that Connors backhand is better or equal to many pros' forehands? That's ridiculous.
     
  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    No it's not. Connors' backhand was one of the great all time shots. It's better just than about any pros forehand today.

    Let's use a little logic here. Connors is clearly one of the all time great groundstrokers. He's played players from Pancho Gonzalez to Edberg to Sampras and has done well. His backhand was clearly his best shot. What does that tell you?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SptdffCeVmM
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  10. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Changmaster, I understand what you are saying. We have more "evidence" of Federer's forehand vs. Segura's. Plus, you point out that Kramer's quote was decades ago, so he didn't see Federer play. That is true. Yet, that should not lead to simply "default credit" for Federer because we haven't been able to observe Segura as closely.

    The poster that mentioned that older folks who actually watched all these players hit their shots live are the ones to best comment/assess these different forehands is right, in my opinion.

    My point is, we should take note that others have a high opinion of Segura's forehand and realize that we have not been privy to watching it a lot.

    Meanwhile, we should realize that viewing Federer hitting his forehand up close and personal for years now, and most recently, tends to lead towards a "bias" in his favor.

    I do agree with PC1 that Connors' 2 handed backhand is in fact better than many forehands in the Game, including the forehands of today. Connors could very consistently drive that shot so deep in the court, very hard and flat, but also hit with some backspin at times.

    Plus, he was always looking to take it on the rise and hit it in a spot that would make his opponent run the farthest possible distance (think Agassi). There's no question about that it was one of the most effective strokes in the Game's history, ranking up there among the all-time best backhands.

    My former tennis coach played some pro tennis on the Tour and he told me about a US event at which a fellow pro warmed up/practiced with Connors. This was in the 1970's. That player commented that Connors' shots would bounce very deep near the baseline and since his shots were so hard also, the bounce would drive him way back near the fence. So, the shot would literally push you way back and put you on defense. How guys like Borg and McEnroe contended with that shot effectively, I have no idea!

    See him club a few with a tiny and heavy T-2000 in the last game of the 1982 Wimbledon Final when he beat McEnroe in 5 sets:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KStKzI04II

    Due to many factors, including improved racquet technology, Connors was able to compete well into his 30's near the highest levels of the game (somewhat similar to Laver in the 1970's). I do think Oversized Graphite frames really gave his game an added "boost" though he was physically declining. Connors with modern frames in the late 1970's would have been a beast to contend with.

    He was a fierce all-court player, having even reached the semifinals of the French Open in 1980, where he lost a tough match to Gerulaitis. (some more backhands here).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFcTa1JKkX4 (3rd Set)

    Anyway, I think many would agree with you that Federer's forehand is one of the best forehands ever, but similar to what happens in the "greatest player" debate, Federer supporters should not be surprised or incredulous that many do not automatically agree that Federer's forehand is unquestionably and without dispute the greatest forehand ever. There are have been so many great forehands over time, in different eras, just like there have been so many great players.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  11. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Good post Borg Number One. I just want to point out that I don't think it's unreasonable to think Federer's forehand may be the best but I also want to point out that it isn't logical to think it is DEFINITELY the best forehand. There have been so many great forehands in the past, Borg's, Newcombe's, Laver's, Vines', Segura's, Lendl's, Perry's, Kramer's, Sampras', Agassi's that it is a bit early to call Federer's the default best.
    While Federer is a great mover I wouldn't necessarily call him the best. I believe Borg was a bit more mobile than Federer for example and guys like Laver, Rosewall, Gerulaitis, Nastase, Emerson, Nadal were and are also extremely fast. Many believe Nadal over the years has been more mobile than Federer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTMx--E0OhY
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  12. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I am happy to place Fed at the top of the forehand list, and Segura second--simply for the reason that we have more visual evidence of Fed's forehand and mostly only reputation and opinion about Segura's forehand.

    I do wonder: of these persons (i.e. Brent Abel, John Barrett, Steve Flink, Mary Carillo, Trey Waltke, Chris Lewis, John Newcombe, Owen Davidson, Fred Stolle and Brian Gottfried), how many actually saw Segura's forehand in its prime?
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  13. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    That's an interesting question as to that panel Hoodjem. I was looking through those names, and it looks like a few on that panel may have watched Segura in action, but not many of them.

    Brent Abel-No, he's a tennis instructor that is probably about 60, so he may have watched it a bit, but he was born around the time that Segura really doing some damage. See his website: http://www.webtennis.net/ (focus on an all court game)

    John Barrett- Yes, he's seen it most likely. See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Barrett_(tennis)

    He's definitely an expert that's watched a lot of tennis and he was playing professionally during the 1950's.

    Steve Flink- great tennis writer of many years. Perhaps he's watched Segura with some footage, but I don't know his age. See an article by him on Laver: http://steveflink.com/great.html

    Mary Carillo- No way, she was too young.

    Trey Waltke- He was probably too young to have watched Segura. He played in the 1960's-1970's. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trey_Waltke

    Chris Lewis- He played in the 70's and 80's, so was probably too young to have watched Segura during the 1940's or 1950's.

    John Newcombe- He likely saw some old footage of Segura while he was growing up.

    Owen Davidson- He was a pro in the 1960's and 1970's, so he may have watched some footage of Segura's forehand in action.

    Fred Stolle- Yes, he saw that Forehand in action, since he was an upcoming teenager during the 1950's when Segura was playing.

    Brian Gottfried-Great player in the 1970's, but he was too young to have watched Segura.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  14. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Hoodjem, that's perfectly fair to play Federer there by that logic. Most of experts above probably aren't old enough to see Segura in his prime with the exception of Barrett.
     
  15. Changmaster

    Changmaster Rookie

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    Ok, I agree with that, I didn't mean to suggest that Fed's fh is unquestionably the best ever, I just didn't like seeing Segura as being #1, especially since even old tennis experts who probably know better than you or I didn't pick Segura as the best fh in relatively recent articles.

    As for who has/had the best movement ever, that article I cited by Drucker says that Fed has the best movement ever. Remember, movement consists of footspeed AND footwork. I do think Nadal may be a little quicker than Fed and can run down a few more balls, although I wouldn't say that's a definite. However, Fed's footwork is absolutely better than Nadal's, and that's why, overall, his movement is superior to Nadal's. Ask yourself this: would you rather move like Nadal, or move like Federer? I think the vast majority of tennis players would choose Fed.

    Monfils may be the fastest player on tour today, but that definitely does not mean he is the best mover. Remember, the level of a player's movement is judged by how they use their feet for offense as well as defence. In that respect, myself and many others believe that Fed is the best ever.

    If you haven't already, read this section of Drucker's article discussing movement:

    http://ontennis.com/content/movement:-roger-federer

    By the way, I'm not one of those delusional fans that thinks Fed is the best in EVERY category. I only think he's the best in history in two departments: the forehand, and movement.
     
  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    No problem Changmaster. I'll post a few comments on Segura's forehand later by some greats and experts just for information.
     
  17. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Why does this thread appear to resemble every other thread on TT?
     
  18. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    Nadal's FH over fed's ????????? on clay, sure .... though during hot streaks, fed's can be more devastating, nadal's consistency is unparalled ! On grass, fed's FH is slightly better IMO.

    I don't think there should be any doubt that fed's FH is hands down better on hards .... How many times have we seen nadal dropping it short and getting punished ?? Inspite of his great movement , winners fly past him on those occasions !

    There are some aspects of his FH that are better than fed's ( running FH,consistency etc ), sure, but overall, fed, clearly ...
     
  19. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    In the match with Roddick that they just showed on ESPN Classics, after 47 games they had Younes at 67 total winners:

    Forehand – 24
    Backhand – 7
    Serve – 22 [he had 18 aces at that point]
    Volley – 14

    Against Hewitt (49 games) he had 24 forehand winners, per USA Today.
     
  20. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    any plans on doing stats on this? did they have any numbers on Roddick?
     
  21. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Wasn't planning on it.

    For Roddick they didn't have anything specific, just the running totals for both players. Near the end they were very close to the totals given in the press: El Aynaoui 107 winners, 55 unforced errors; Roddick 102 and 31.

    Don't know about you but I couldn't pull up anything for that Australian Open at webarchive.
     
  22. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Comments on Segura's forehand

    Jack Kramer-I was fascinated by his terrific two-handed forehand. Possibly Budge's backhand was the better stroke, I'll have to accept that judgment. But put a gun to my head, and I'd have to say Segura' forehand because he could disquise it so much better and hit so many more angles. As great a shot as Connors' two-handed backhand is, it is nowhere near as tough as Segura's forehand because Pancho could hit just as hit but with more control.

    Ellsworth Vines-Two fisted forehand is most outstanding stroke in game's history; unbeatable unless opponent could avoid it.

    Ellsworth Vines-Segura could do much more with a forehand than any other player. His two-hand technique (developed in Ecuador as a child because he had rickets) allowed Segura to pull the ball across a net opponent at the last second, drive it down the line, hit a surprise lob, or knock it through him. He had tremendous power, remarkable deception, and he never seemed to miss.

    Pancho Gonzalez-As strong as Budge's backhand was, Segura's forehand was even stronger. Segura was very accurate with and forehand and he had a great lob off his backhand, which meant you needed a good overhead.

    Jack Kramer in discussing the best forehands he had seen (this is in the late 1970's)-FOREHAND-Segura was best, then Perry, followed by Tilden and Vines (although I never saw Big Bill's till he was in his forties). Of the modern, Nastase's forehand is a superb one, especially on the run.

    Paul Metzler-Pancho Segura, only moderately sucessful as an amateur, rose to the heights as a member of Jack Kramer's professional troupe in the 1940's and 1950's and displayed what some critics described as the greatest individual stroke seen up to that time. This was a right-handed two-handed forehand whose direction, pace and intention (whether the shot would be drive, drop-shot or lob) were all concealed until the last possible moment. Both solid and brilliant, it was a match winner.

    Laver and Rosewall I believe have also mentioned how strong Segura's forehand was but I can't find the exact quotes.

    There are too many eyewitness accounts stating it was the greatest shot they have ever seen. Many don't just say best forehand but the best shot ever. I would think it ranks at least in the top five.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010
  23. Changmaster

    Changmaster Rookie

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    I agree with you, any list of great forehands should have Segura's up there, but again, all these comments were made before all-time great forehands like Lendl's and Federer's came into play.
     
  24. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    True but just before it was before these guys doesn't mean Segura's couldn't still be as good or better. Look at the golfer Tom Watson who last year at 59 almost won the British Open.

    Sometimes the past players could be surpassed in certain areas but sometimes not.

    The pitcher Nolan Ryan started in the 1960's and ended in 1993 at age 46. While he may have been the hardest throwing pitcher in the 1960's and 1970's but they didn't have accurate radar guns in those days to measure speed. It's reasonable to believe Ryan was consistently over 100 miles per hour when he was younger. To put it in perspective Ryan's last pitch, at age 46 in 1993 was 98 miles per hour. Who is to say whether Segura's forehand was the best or not? It may be, it may not be but it is definitely in the running.

    However I believe Federer's forehand at number one is reasonable but I also would believe that of a number of forehands in history.
     
  25. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Relax folks, ...
  26. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Nice stuff. Always interesting to see comparisons of great shots.
     
  27. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    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
     
  28. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    That is a cool video comparison. Also, in case you haven't seen this, check out this short Borg vs. Federer forehand comparison:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31IYa7VsZYg
     
  29. Greek Goliath

    Greek Goliath Rookie

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    1. Sampras
    2. Lendl
    3. Federer
    4. Borg
    5. Segura
    6. Laver
    7. Agassi
    8. Nadal
    9. Courier
    10. Budge

    That's my top ten, at least.

    Haven't seen many of the old-time greats play, but from what I could find, this was my impression.

    Cheers,

    Greek Goliath
     
  30. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Nice list GGoliath. Many greats there.
     
  31. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    After seeing Fed so much and having seen Lendl so much when he played and gone back and looked at Lendls old matches again I have concluded that Fed forehand is much better than Lendls and was surprised and the distance I would put between the two shots.
     
  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    What advantages do you see Federer having over Lendl? Just curious. Both are awesome forehands.
     
  33. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Speaking from memory only, I would say Fed gets better angles and more variety of spin.
     
  34. Justdoit10

    Justdoit10 Guest

    Guys, I have not watched greats of the past. So I am only gonna do one for the ones I have seen.

    1. Federer
    2. Sampras
    3. Nadal
    4. Agassi
    5. F. Gonzalez
    6. Del Potro (USO final :shock:)
    7. Moya
    8. Courier
    9. Safin
    10. Blake

    I figured it would unfair of me to blindly rate players that I have never watched play for a significant amount of time.
     
  35. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    There is a surprising amount of matches out there, especially on clay (but not exclusive to clay) and against certain opponents where Lendl was simply not aggressive with his forehand, like he lacked confidence at times and chose to roll it in and rally with it. That was one point that came to mind. The other was that Lendl would build points with his awesome forehand starting with the inside out ball and then pound away until he chose to a) hit a winner or b) go to the open court with a deep forehand and finish the point with a smash or easy volley. Sometimes he would even just hit a few forehands to the opponents backhand instead of hitting the winner into the open court just to mentally break his opponent down further. Lendl in his favor I would say did have a better running forehand and topspin lob off that wing than Fed.

    To me Fed has everything else over Lendl. First off he is almost always aggressive. He hits harder with more spin than Ivan. He takes control of rallies many times with the very first forehand and ends points quicker. He goes up the line better than anyone in history. To me the biggest difference is Fed's unmatched ability to simply end rallies out of nowhere. Lendl broke down opponents Federer just quick-strikes and the efect is even more devastating.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2010
  36. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It's hard for me to say with total accuracy about Federer over Lendl. Lendl used to hit incredibly hard in 1982 in which he overpowered just about everyone but failed in the majors. I think later when he got into the fitness kick he tended to be more conservative, especially on red clay of course.

    Against players like Connors, who thrived on power he tended to loop his forehand more. Against a player like Wilander I think he felt it was a higher percentage not to blast away all the time. Rackets and strings weren't the quality that we have today.

    Overall I would tend to agree with you about Federer having a better forehand than Lendl but I do think it may be closer than you think.

    Hoodjem, I also agree with you that Federer would get better angles and spin.
     
  37. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    I really thought it would be closer myself.
     
  38. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Watching Lendl and Wilander's matches I get the same impression of Lendl's tactics. And it makes some sense against a retriever like Wilander. Lendl seemed to do best playing the percentages and then trying high-risk aggression when the time was right, such as near the end of a set (or simply when Wilander forced it on him by coming to the net).

    When he lost to Borg in straights at AKAI in '82, he told the press, "Against him I have to hit four or five good shots just to win the point. Against other players, it's usually two good forehands and that's it. I just tried to put it away, but that's not the way to beat him."
     
  39. JW10S

    JW10S Hall of Fame

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    The late, great, Jack Kramer said the two best forehands he ever saw belonged to Ellsworth Vines and Pete Sampras.
     
  40. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    He always maintained that Pancho Segura's forehand was the greatest single shot he had ever seen in tennis. Did Kramer say that about Vines and Sampras in his later years? Off the top of my head I know he thought Segura's, Vines', Perry's forehands were among the greatest with Segura's the best.
     
  41. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    People, when you bring up quotes from ex-players, please state what the date was being published. If the quote was dated back in the 50’s, then it doesn’t have much weigh since its way out of date. People don’t hold the same point of view forever because new generation added to discussion, which can change their mind.
     
  42. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That's of course an excellent point. This is a quote from Kramer's book "The Game" written in 1979 where he discusses the best shots he had ever seen.

    "FOREHAND-Segura was best, then Perry, followed by Tilden and Vines (although I never saw Big Bill's till he was in his forties). Of the moderns, Nastase's forehand is a superb one, especially on the run."

    Here's more on Segura's forehand from the same book. "I was fascinatedby his terrific two-handed forehand. Possibly Budge's backhand was the better stroke, I'll have to accept that judgment. But put a gun to my head, and I'd have to say the Segura forehand because he could disguise it so much better and hit so many more angles. As great a shot as Connors' two-hand backhand is, it is nowhere near as tough as Segura's forehand because Pancho could hit just as hard but with more control.

    So that's why I was surprised that Kramer stated Vines and Sampras were the two best forehand. How did Vines go ahead of Perry and Segura according to JW10S? They haven't exactly played top competition in recent years.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
  43. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Bumped for currency.
     
  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Hoodjem,

    I'm thinking of starting a thread debating the greatest passing shots of all time. There will be no poll because Federer always wins these polls, rightfully or not.
     
  45. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Yep, my favorite joke is about a poll on here as to who looks better in a skirt--Jennifer Anniston or Federer.

    Federer wins.
     
  46. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    No doubt Federer would win. lol.
     
  47. President

    President Legend

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    What is the criteria for great forehands? Can it just be a great stroke on its own, or does its owner have to have significant achievements to back it up? For example, I think Juan Martin Del Potro has a more lethal forehand than Marat Safin and Andre Agassi (two more recent players on the list who happen to be ranked higher than him), but as of now he does not have the achievements of either. How do you judge a newly emerging player?
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  48. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I would think it can be a great stroke on its own. If a player is terrible in every aspect of his game except his forehand, there is no reason why his forehand couldn't be considered a great shot. Maybe that is the only reason he can win.
     
  49. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Is this the latest list? Is Lendl that close to Fed?
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  50. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Let's break it down by surface.

    Grass-Edge Federer
    Hardcourt-About even but edge to Federer
    Red Clay-Lendl-More consistent
    Indoor-Slight edge to Federer

    Yes. I think it's very close.
    Lendl can blast it with great control but often he chose not to.
     

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