Originally Posted by 0d1n
An opposite example to this "far back court positioning" was Andre A. Do people actually think he stood so close to the baseline ALL THE TIME (even when the situation demanded something else) because of his stroke technique and timing only ??
He stood there because he could time the ball well...but ALSO he stood there because he lacked speeed/court coverage. He KNEW that he didn't stand a chance running balls down (something that people like Murray and Gasquet can do very well) from 3-4 meters behind the baseline...so he stood closer and took a chance.
Even when put in defense...and hence the situation would have asked for him to move 2 meters back from his usual positioning he took the gamble of sitting close and swinging at the ball. If somebody could have given him the Murray/Djokovic type of speed and court coverage, he would have chosen very differently in certain situations...you can be certain of that !
0d1n, you have great insight. I've talking about this for years. I can tell you're very wise. I'll get to Agassi after my opinion on topic.
I love Federer!!! I don't love his topspin BH. Federer's topspin backhand in a BH to BH exchange with say Gasquet or Djokovic or Haas or even Nadal DTL, Federer will lose. IMO, it has something to do with technique and his strategy/stubbornness. Technique wise I feel Federer brings his right elbow too low on the take back, with a continental/eastern grip. He begins with the forward swing with the racquet too low and brushes up on it too much causing numerous miss hits (one of the smallest racquet head's on the market doesn't help). It also creates incredible angles
Federer is versatile because that's his strategy. It's a double edge sword. He escalates the BH to BH exchange for no apparent reason. The worst and greatest is the DTL topspin that fades towards the sideline with a little sidespin. It is AMAZING and TERRIBLE! I use numerous video clips of him with my students on why not to fade your shots. As a huge fan, it is incredibly frustrating to watch him do this over and over into defeat.
I also see Federer hitting at the peak, not really on the rise all that much (when he does the miss hits go up), which is weaker for a topsin backhand. Since he has so much versatility he should flatten it out from this area.
Off topic, Agassi did have incredible timing, but he was given way too much credit for hitting on the rise. After numerous discussions with "high performance" coaches, who encourage hitting on the rise, I proved that Agassi didn't hit on the rise 1/2 the time. He would stand near or on the BL, but over 1/2 the balls were dropping to him. I've only watched 3 or 4 Agassi matches to prove my theory. I think it's a good strategy for mobility issues or playing against moon ballers, but for developing juniors or "high performance" players this should be used as an exception not as a rule.
After all this, I say Gasquet has a better topsin backhand, but Federer has more strategy.