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Old 01-09-2013, 12:31 AM   #19
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 497

Originally Posted by above bored View Post
Only continental and eastern gripped backhands, such as that used by Federer, make higher balls more challenging. Nevertheless, you can still hit a decent enough ball. Semi-western backhand grips, such as that used by Almagro and Kohlschreiber, are more comfortable for high backhands, but not so good for low balls. These principles are well established, based on the anatomical reality for all players, not just because of the Federer/Nadal match-up.

You are always going to be at an anatomical disadvantage if you are going toe to toe against another pros forehand with your backhand. Forehands are almost always stronger than backhands, regardless of the opponent, but especially in the case of Nadal, who has a forehand better than most.
Federer, Haas, Dimitrov and Wawrinka uses a weak Eastern grip, Almagro and Kohlschreiber use an Eastern grip, Gasquet and Volandri use a strong Eastern grip (sometimes also known as a semi-western backhand grip - the 'full western' backhand grip is never used).

The 'strength' of your grip doesn't always limit how well you can handle high balls. Wawrinka, for example is very strong, and can handle them well despite his weak Eastern grip.

All it takes is that you strengthen the muscles needed to reproduce the backhand. These are muscles that people often neglect because they work out their chest instead, because the chest is a so-called 'mirror muscle'. A strong chest can give you a good forehand, but has little to no involvement in hitting a (one handed) backhand.

A steady diet of weighted pull-ups, rows, inverted body rows and dumbbell reverse flyes would give you the strength in your upper back and posterior shoulder to rip high balls off the one handed backhand. I do all the above and relish the chance of hitting a high backhand - my high 1hbh is both stronger than my high forehand and my low 1hbh. I can frequently take high balls to my 1hbh, swing as fast upwards as I can and whip topspin into them so that they kick over my opponent's head, or even over the back fence on one occasion.

And I'm no pro, so if you combine strength with perfect, pro-level technique the results could be devastating. The 1hbh gives you the extra ROM to hit heavier topspin on high balls than the 2hbh - I guess it is then up to you to build the necessary strength to capitalize on that extra ROM.
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