Originally Posted by always_crosscourt
I may not have mastered the 2hbh, but it is a simple anatomical fact that there is less range of motion when you have two hands on the racket when reaching up high. With the1hbh you have more range of motion, but most people are too weak in their shoulders and/or wrists to capitalize on the advantage.
If you have strong shoulders and wrists, however, you are in an advantage over a 2hbh's in terms of what you can do with a high ball. You can drive down on the ball (though not as easily as with a 2hbh) OR you can loop upwards on the ball, because you have more range of motion. With a 2hbh, you can't loop back an already head height ball, because your swing is shorter and does not finish high enough to impart topspin on a ball of this height. Looping back a high shot back with heavy spin is a safer and higher percentage option than driving it downwards.
Of course I don't have experience of hitting against Nadal's forehand, but there are 'Nadal's' of my local park who are the same level as me, and who try to kick it up to my backhand and I love dealing with that shot on my one-hander. I deal with head-height balls on my 1hbh better than low balls, or even normal-height balls, but I use a semi-western 1hbh grip. Of course if Nadal kicked up to my backhand I couldn't handle it, but if I were at nadal's level, my backhand would be a lot better than it is, so you can't really compare things that way, can you?
Not to mention there are pro's with 1hbh's who CAN go toe-to-toe with Nadal's forehand with their 1hbh's. Gasquet can use his own heavy topspin off that wing to angle Nadal off the court, probably so could Kuerten, Wawrinka can easily drive through a high ball and Kohlschreiber, Gaudio and Almagro don't do anything too flashy, but are just very stable against high balls. All these players lose to Nadal (when they lose) for reasons other than their 1hbh's.
In fact, do you notice the trend that when a pro player has a 1hbh, it is a more often than not a very strong backhand (Lopez notwithstanding)?
I think all the pros are pretty strong in their wrists, forearms, shoulders and core. Amateurs less so, so it will obviously help if they strengthen up.
My comments below are assuming optimal technique, not bad technique or less than optimal.
You are right that there is less range of motion with a 2hbh and that it is more difficult to loop the ball or impart topspin, but you are wrong that this makes for lower percentage shots on high balls. What the 2hbh loses in these areas, it gains in the stability in the racket head you inherently get by using two hands. However strong you are, a 2hbh will always have a more stable head, all other things being equal. The nature of the shot means you can guide and power through the ball more safely, in a way you canít with a 1hbh. The restricted motion of the stroke also, ironically, adds an extra layer of control.
The 1hbh is a completely different stroke and requires completely different technique, but can be equally effective at its best, just in a different way. It gives you easier access to power and spin, but not necessarily control, because of a less stable head and the greater possibility for extension through the stroke. It can loop balls better than the 2hbh, but it cannot drill them, including high balls, as well. I think Agassi had the best technique for the driven 2hbh in the game and the clip below shows him drilling many balls, including high ones, safely and in a way you simply cannot do as well with a 1hbh, all other things being equal.
All the players you mentioned at the end have more extreme 1hbh grips than your classic continental and eastern grips, and they are all better players on clay, where loopy, top spun shots are more effective than driven top spun shots with flatter trajectories. However, I donít know if that constitutes handling high balls better, since on hardcourts and grass they are less effective at being able to drill high balls through the court in the way the best 2hbhs can. So what one deems as more effective at its best, really depends on the surface.
Incidentally, regarding the more extreme gripped 1hbhs, many kids end up adopting those grips precisely because they help them cope with the balls bouncing above their heads. Justine Henin at 5í 5íí also needed an extreme grip for her 1hbh to cope with high balls, but neither her nor the players you mentioned would be dealing with high balls in the same way if they used a more modest continental or eastern grip. As the saying goes, grip = destiny.