Who had the better backhand?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Zimbo, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2006
    Messages:
    422
    With so much discussion going on about backhands I was wondering who you guys think had the better backhand between these three: Lendl, Edberg, and Becker?
     
    #1
  2. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2006
    Messages:
    4,892
    Location:
    Northern MO
    Lendl, although Edberg's was kinda legendary. The most solid of the 3, plus he actually hit from the baseline a majority of the time, so he wins this one.
     
    #2
  3. President of Serve/Volley

    President of Serve/Volley Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    589
    Tough one... Lendl can do it from the baseline and hold his own. Becker can handle Edberg's kicker, and Edberg, well, he can do anything with it...

    I'd go with Lendl, but really... anyone would love to have any of these 3 backhands. All are better than Roger Federer's...
     
    #3
  4. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    ^ I think Roger's is better than all 3's.
     
    #4
  5. matchmaker

    matchmaker Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Messages:
    4,040
    Well, I respect you as a poster and I respect your opinion, but I respectfully have to disagree.

    Fed's backhand is not in the GOAT backhand league. If not, why would it break down when people merciless pound on it?

    Fed may have the best FH of all time, but for serve, volley and BH there are other candidates.

    That does not mean that the overall package Federer possesses isn't fantastic, it just means that if you single out one particular stroke, you can find someone who was better at that particular stroke, but maybe overall worse.
     
    #5
  6. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,611
    I agree, Fed's backhand is NOT as good as Lendl's.
     
    #6
  7. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    Mostly it breaks down when the greatest clay courter I've ever seen pummels it mercilessly with the best left handed forehand ever, and certainly the heaviest one with the most action, on clay (somebody posted an article that put Nadal's forehand number 2 in the list of top tennis strokes of 2000's... I would probably place his forehand top 5 of all time). I would love to see how Becker, Lendl, and Edberg's backhand would deal with the Nadal forehand on clay.

    Roger's weak backhand is so horribly overstated. It's ridiculous really. Even when he first came on the scene, I remember some commentators describing it as the best one hander in the game. Without Nadal around, nobody would ever question that shot.

    All 4 of these guys have great one handers, and in some ways, Lendl's may have been steadier ("may" because he didn't have to contend with the same types of shots on a regular basis), but in terms of versatility and power, Fed is on a higher level IMO. He can do things with his backhand that none of those guys would never have dreamt of. Fed's slice is way better than Lendl's chip. He doesn't just use it to stay in the point but can actually shift the momentum of the point with that shot. I would put Guga's up there with Fed's. Driving the ball, Guga's is probably better, but factor in slice, Fed matches up favorably. I think both overall have better backhands than those three.
    Well thanks, but seriously, the funnest discussions here are the ones that create mass disagreements. They're the only subjects worth discussing. I imagine threads everybody agreed on would have titles like "Is Karlovic taller than Santoro" and "Is Anna Kournikova sexier than Tauziat?" Why even bother posting in such threads?
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2009
    #7
  8. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Messages:
    1,225
    +1 Federer's backhand not as good as Lendl.

    I think the forums have a large percentage of kids who didn't really watch much tennis in the 80's, especially in person.
     
    #8
  9. matchmaker

    matchmaker Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Messages:
    4,040
    Well, he can, because he "wrists" his backhand. That is why at times he can find ridiculous angles, but at other times he can net a simple rally backhand.

    I find there are fundamental flaws in his BH technique. I am talking about his topspin BH, his slice is exceptional.

    He often hits with a bent arm, he uses too much wrist flick.It is a little like a table tennis backhand.

    Basically it boils down to this: no two Federer backhands are alike. This is why he can produce stunning winners at times, but will be inconsistent at other times.

    I think Tommy Haas and Wawrinka have a much better backhand action, but off course, the rest of their game lags far behind, not in the least the mental aspect.
     
    #9
  10. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2008
    Messages:
    15,916
    Location:
    U.S
    I agree with your views on the federer BH being under-rated and the so called weakness being over-stated. The bold part is so true.

    Lendl's BH held up better on clay, for sure, but he didn't have to deal with a nadal . His BH was better than fed's on clay, but on the other surfaces, fed's better. overall fed by a slim margin

    As far as guga is concerned, I'd put his BH ahead of fed by some margin. His BH on clay was great and could be spectacular on other surfaces when he was on
     
    #10
  11. madhavan

    madhavan New User

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2004
    Messages:
    34
    Edberg for me had the best backhand among those 3. He was a master of everything with it - baseline, passing shots, return, slice, approach, angles, touch, you name it. His topspin was somewhat inconsistent at the start of his career (until about '88), but he tightened up his technique considerably and became very very solid off that side.

    Lendl's BH was great from the baseline and passing shots, but his topspin return was very streaky. His slice, touch and angles were good, but not at Edberg's level.

    Becker had a very explosive topspin BH (for eg. he handled Edberg's serve the best I've seen from a single-hander and whacked zillions of winners). But when you watched Edberg and Becker get into a backhand to backhand rally, it was pretty clear who was better off that side - Edberg's impeccable footwork and smooth, but explosive stroke would usually give him control and put Becker on the defensive.
     
    #11
  12. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,611
    That is certainly true, what is particularly odd to me is that the forum has plenty of 15 yr olds who have admitted to watching tennis for about 3 years, will spout off on topics like this and make definitive declarations....then argue them for days. I love how "Federer" is the answer to EVERYTHING...and when we list the greatest _____, it reads like the current top 10 + "laver" and "sampras" (thrown somewhere in around Davydenko ;-)

    But TW forums is hardly a place to go for knowledgable tennis experts and/or insightful analysis, so it is my own fault for reading this garbage! ;-)
     
    #12
  13. madhavan

    madhavan New User

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2004
    Messages:
    34
    Meant to say in my last post that Edberg's BH was inconsistent till about 1988, looks like my 8) got converted into a smiley!
     
    #13
  14. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Too funny. Fed is worse than all three.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
    #14
  15. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    The "horrible-ness" of Fed's backhand is overstated. True.

    But be aware that he has one of the few one-handed backhands among the current top players, so saying that it is "the best one hander in the game" may be damning it with faint praise.

    (In other words, being a one-eyed man in the land of the blind doesn't make you a genius.)
     
    #15
  16. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2006
    Messages:
    422
    Thanks everyone for your post. Out of the three I would chose Edberg's for the reason above.
     
    #16
  17. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    Having a one handed backhand in today's ATP world is a risky proposition period. Just look at the decline of one handers in the top 10 and it's not simply because people stopped teaching it... another subject. Fed is the only guy in the top 10 with a one hander right now. Give him some props for that. And think about what that might mean. I picked a ranking date from random knowing that 1985 was one of Lendl's best years... 6 players in the top 10 with one handers. Lendl, Mac, Edberg, Noah, Curren, and Becker.

    Fine, you can take that to mean that coaches met in Bahamas one year and decided to give all their best players two hander, whatever. Or pick another date. Go through the top 20 of the day there were 6 one handers in the top 10 and you have 12 in the top 20, perhaps 13 because I'm not sure what kind of backhand Scott Davis had. 5 in the top 20 today.

    You tell me what that means. :)
     
    #17
  18. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    Or see my post above and take it to mean only the best survive today. Unlike serve and volley, which is a style of play, a one hander is merely a stroke. You can't say Fed is successful with it because it's rare, that other people don't see a lot of one handers. For it to reign supreme in a world where other one handed players aren't "doing so well" must mean it's exceptional? Explain your interpretation of it if you don't like mine.
     
    #18
  19. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    I don't think Fed is a great player because he has a 1Hbh, and I don't think Fed is a great player despite having a 1Hbh.

    I think his 1Hbh is pretty good, but his serve and forehand and speed win him most of his matches. I believe that his volleys are pretty good and his backhand is pretty good.

    I think Fed wins what he wins (15 slams and more to come) because he is a more complete player than any of his competitors, a more talented player, and a player who is smart enough to maximize his potential. Those, and his "completeness" is amplified when compared to the shallowness of his competitors' games.

    (For the record, I have a 1Hbh, and all my favorite players do also. I believe that, as a stroke, it is inherently more versatile and less limiting.)
     
    #19
  20. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Messages:
    2,039
    Lendl had the best backhand of the three.
     
    #20
  21. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    When Fed was first emerging, people were already saying he might have the best one hander in the game. People talked glowingly about his backhand. It might break down against Nadal on clay, but what other player have you seen consistently exploit his so called weak backhand? Just saying, it can't keep up with the best left handed forehand in tennis history, and probably one of the top 5 best forehands in tennis history PERIOD, on clay, but his backhand is still one of the best strokes in tennis.
     
    #21
  22. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Alright, as long as you're talking about the present game of tennis.
     
    #22
  23. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    I would agree with this.
     
    #23
  24. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,751
    grass is a surface too. The gap between federer and guga on the bh side is bigger on grass for fed than on clay for guga.

    Federer is also way better defensively than kuerten off the bh side.

    kuerten def gets the nod on clay but federer has the edge on hardcourts and on faster surfaces - grass and indoors.

    federer also passes much better than kuerten off the bh side and returns better off the bh side. federer also has more touch off the bh side. has a better drop shot and overall more options + versatility.

    kuerten obviously has the better topspin drive which is emphasized on surfaces that are slower and are higher bouncing - clay.

    kuerten's swing is long and loopy. he cannot consistently take balls on the rise off the bh side. Federer can half volley and take the ball on the rise on the bh side. federer struggles with the high topspin though on clay from a player like nadal - but pretty much everyone does.

    Federer is better at balls on bh side that are below the level of the waist - this mainly due to grip.



    overall: federer.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
    #24
  25. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,751
    do you not think its more difficult to execute a shot when the balls are travelling faster and with more spin?

    even the recreational player can execute some great shots when balls are travelling at slow speeds with a relatively low RPM.

    however, amp the speed and the rpms and players are bound to shank the ball more especially for someone who has exceptional racket head speed like federer. Federer will shank more but he will also produce more proportionally.

    to be able to execute flat drives and topspin shots against shots coming with the velocities of today's game is very difficult. Not to mention the skill, reflexes required to stop the ball dead and play finesse with angles when reaction time is so little. Bhs of today absolutely merit consideration when discussing GOAT bhs and since federer's is among the best of today - he should also be mentioned.

    laver himself admires federer not for his forehand but for his backhand. sampras admires federer for his backhand...even nadal and nalbandian - two players who have had success against federer hold this stroke in high esteem.

    i just dont think you can compare strokes from today to those of the past. Obviously, lendl is going to shank less when the balls are travelling slower and his racquet head speed is slower.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
    #25
  26. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Messages:
    4,215
    Location:
    Winesburg, Ohio
    Sorry for using the transitive property, but does this mean you feel Sampras has a better backhand than Federer?
     
    #26
  27. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2008
    Messages:
    15,916
    Location:
    U.S
    fair enough, for some reason, at that moment I was mainly considering the BH in baseline rallies, if we're taking the return and passing shots into consideration, then yeah there isn't much of a difference at all - kuerten on clay, federer on grass,indoors ; HC is a tossup ( I'd take fed, but kuerten never fulfilled his potential on HC and career was cut short by injuries, his BH when on could be more lethal than fed's on HC )
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
    #27
  28. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,751
    i dont see how HC is a tossup. Kuerten was pathetic in HC slams during his HC prime. Yes he had a few good matches / tournaments...masters cup and cincy.

    but federer can match that on hardcourts and has had many days where his bh drive would match those of the very best. Also, federer has had days on clay where his bh has been impeccable. He has also had days when his bh has been off. But so has kuerten, agassi, gaudio, nalbandian...everyone.

    citing's kuerten's potential is another coulda woulda argument.

    also. if you want to claim kuerten's topspin drive is better than federer's on clay. i have no problem with that. But to me it doesn't make sense to isolate the drive. You should consider the total package on the bh side.

    Kuerten's choice of grip enables him to have a great bh on clay and to be able to handle high balls due to his loopy swing. But he sacrifices many other things to possess this.
     
    #28
  29. madhavan

    madhavan New User

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2004
    Messages:
    34
    I think Fed has a much faster trigger on the backhand than Guga since his backswing is a lot more compact. As a result, his backhand return of serve is better on the faster surfaces + he can play closer to the baseline than Guga did. His quick trigger also enables Fed to execute those sick bh half-volleys from the baseline + short-angle flick passing shots.
     
    #29
  30. rod99

    rod99 Professional

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Messages:
    1,197
    yes, it's more difficult to pull off great shots when the ball is traveling faster, however it's also easier to pull off these shots when you have advanced technology, specifically today's strings which allow you to do things with the ball that players in the 80s would never have dreamed of.
     
    #30
  31. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2008
    Messages:
    15,916
    Location:
    U.S
    Again, kuerten's HC results are not necessarily reflective of his BH on that surface.

    And yes a coulda woulda argument, couldn't help it !
     
    #31
  32. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,751
    tell me what is it...then?

    his fh and bh have similar mechanics and his fh was actually equally effective - its just his bh got more attention because it was a shot with more flair.

    his movement in his prime was decent. his serve was effective. His return was very average but still.

    his bh and his overall game were not that effective on HC or on faster surfaces. did he have good days - yes he did but he had many bad days.
     
    #32
  33. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,751
    advanced technology only works if you have the hand eye -coord and skills to take advantage of it.

    also both sides of the net are using advanced tech and hitting these so called great shots against each other, so it there is no added advantage that players of today have because both sides of the net have the same equipment. "the advanced tech gets canceled out"

    However, both sides of the net in today's game have less reaction time, and as a result have to be more athletic and precise. The game has gotten harder not easier. Finesse is harder to execute when the ball is faster and when there is increased spin on the ball due to string tech!
     
    #33

Share This Page