Originally Posted by Clay lover
I mean, let's disregard results for the moment, just focus on the sheer HIDEOUSNESS of that stroke.
It's definitely one of the ugliest forehands I have seen, looks like one of those wacky topspin 4 forehand animations rather than a pro stroke.
Why, Gulbis, why?
(Question asked from a pure aesthetic point of view)
Only a few full forehands were shown in the highlights of the second video. The forehand motion does not remain a constant even among a single player; it changes to some extent given the height of the ball. Hard to compare a match played on clay with a high bounce against a player known for his spin generation (Federer), with a match played on fresh first round grass with a low bounce against a player known for relatively flat trajectory strokes (Berdych). Not enough evidence to conclude he's definitively altered his stroke. You'll need slow motion practice videos from each 'forehand era' to demonstrate your claim.
But more to the point, is a long backswing always 'ugly', aesthetically? People here seem to think so, yet they also adored the look of Gonzalez's masterful forehand: