Could Wawrinka Shorten His Take-back?

Kylo Reed

Rookie
First and foremost, I am a huge admirer of Wawrinka's one-handed backhand. If his ability on his backhand side does not astonish you enough yet, look no further than:

However, I am also an avid student of the game who is always looking for knowledge to improve my game.

So, I would love to discuss any potential "flaws" if I may, about Wawrinka's 1HBH. I am well aware that I will receive backlash for criticising one of the best backhanders on the tour, but please keep an open mind :)

First, let us take a look at a comparison to other 1H'ers as well as 2H'ers. Wawrinka's takeback is noticeably longer than players like Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer. As a result, experts say that this negatively affects his stroke because his backhand…

- Is less effective on grass
- Cannot return first serves without chipping
- Does not compliment a 'hitting on the rise' type of game

So my ultimate question for you is,
Would Wawrinka's stroke mechanics allow him to shorten his take back, or does his immense power and topspin rely on a longer setup?
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
I think he might have shorter take-back, but that would be a different stroke and an addition to his repertoire.

The huge power comes from the ox-strength in his core. By shortening the prep the separation angle between pelvis and shoulders, let’s call it x-factor is lost and the initial rhs comes from the looping, like in Gasquet’s bh.

Wawrinka is pulling the hand against his chest as long as possible and the release happens at the last possible moment whilst the hand is travelling at the highest speed possible. On the contrary to others with shorter prep, they accelerate thru the hand action and more sideways to their body with way less x-factor and stopping or decelerating the shoulder turn early.

The later method gives you better control over the direction by the cost of rhs and ball speed.

In studies of the golf swing, the fastest club head speeds occur with the players who have the highest shoulder speeds at impact.
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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 
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heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
No flaws there the only thing is the grip he waits with on the return of serve...mostly(not always) he just blocks it back.
 

5point5

Hall of Fame
First and foremost, I am a huge admirer of Wawrinka's one-handed backhand. If his ability on his backhand side does not astonish you enough yet, look no further than:

However, I am also an avid student of the game who is always looking for knowledge to improve my game.

So, I would love to discuss any potential "flaws" if I may, about Wawrinka's 1HBH. I am well aware that I will receive backlash for criticising one of the best backhanders on the tour, but please keep an open mind :)

First, let us take a look at a comparison to other 1H'ers as well as 2H'ers. Wawrinka's takeback is noticeably longer than players like Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer. As a result, experts say that this negatively affects his stroke because his backhand…

- Is less effective on grass
- Cannot return first serves without chipping
- Does not compliment a 'hitting on the rise' type of game

So my ultimate question for you is,
Would Wawrinka's stroke mechanics allow him to shorten his take back, or does his immense power and topspin rely on a longer setup?
I don't know if it is less effective on grass - Gasquet has a similar take back and swing path, and grass is his best surface.

Wawrinka himself is just a less effective player on grass.
 

SinjinCooper

Hall of Fame
I don't know if it is less effective on grass - Gasquet has a similar take back and swing path, and grass is his best surface.

Wawrinka himself is just a less effective player on grass.
I don't even know that he's particularly less effective. Hasn't won one, but has a "great" set of losses at that slam.

Ancic (SF'ist, three time QF'ist) in 4.
Safin in 4.
Murray in 5.
Federer in 4.
Gasquet in a marathon 5.
Delpo in 4.

He's got some ho-hum results to go with these, but that's true of Wawrinka everywhere. He's that guy who, once in a while, brings his big game to the big stage and threatens everyone.

It just so happens that he's run into some huge opponents at Wimby when he's been at his best. His "worst" results have come there, but they're not so bad, and when you take into account the quality of his losses, he looks pretty stout.
 

Kylo Reed

Rookie
I think he might have shorter take-back, but that would be a different stroke and an addition to his repertoire.

The huge power comes from the ox-strength in his core. By shortening the prep the separation angle between pelvis and shoulders, let’s call it x-factor is lost and the initial rhs comes from the looping, like in Gasquet’s bh.

Wawrinka is pulling the hand against his chest as long as possible and the release happens at the last possible moment whilst the hand is travelling at the highest speed possible. On the contrary to others with shorter prep, they accelerate thru the hand action and more sideways to their body with way less x-factor and stopping or decelerating the shoulder turn early.

The later method gives you better control over the direction by the cost of rhs and ball speed.

In studies of the golf swing, the fastest club head speeds occur with the players who have the highest shoulder speeds at impact.
——————————
On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
Great point. I definitely see how a more acute angle utilizes the x-factor. I've noticed that this attribute could also be observed in two-handed backhands which use the x-factor under the same philosophy.

However, in the two-handed backhand, the straightening of the arm occurs earlier and the take back is much less loopy - my thinking is this saves a lot of time.

If Wawrinka sacrifices a few miles of rhs with a similar takeback to those with a two-hander, could he successfully shorten his prep time in this manner?

Other 1Hers would not be able to do this because they do not use the x-factor... But how about Wawrinka?
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
Great point. I definitely see how a more acute angle utilizes the x-factor. I've noticed that this attribute could also be observed in two-handed backhands which use the x-factor under the same philosophy.

However, in the two-handed backhand, the straightening of the arm occurs earlier and the take back is much less loopy - my thinking is this saves a lot of time.

If Wawrinka sacrifices a few miles of rhs with a similar takeback to those with a two-hander, could he successfully shorten his prep time in this manner?

Other 1Hers would not be able to do this because they do not use the x-factor... But how about Wawrinka?
In general, yet trailing the shoulder turn, twohanded geometry makes the racket stay more in front of your chest. The take back is about the same, but in the follow thru of modern 2hbhs the racket is taken quite abruptly over the opposite shoulder. In the past, Björn Borg got a mixed excecution, when he released the aft hand off the racket and followed thru with only the front hand on the handle. Since him, I cannot recall anybody to have used the same motion, and come to a conclusion, it may not be the best possible practice. Or defenately needs too much personal twist to be easily taught and adopted to work in a heat of a match.

In a onehander the contact point needs to be further forward than with double-handed shot for the front arm building proper geometry in holding the impact force. Shorter core and shoulder range can be used, but since there is only one hand on the racket the available force to change it state (ie. direction of movement) is minor to a two-hander and requires a touch more time than if you have two hands on the stick.

I think, the positon, having the hitting arm compressed across his chest builds a rig similar to the forearm triangular on two-hander giving the racket consistent support thru the swing. Building such posture is really hard, if the take-back is too short and it builds up very late making the shot hard to execute timingswise.

However a kind of shorter delivery is obtained, if the shot is hit from an open to neutral stance instead of closed. You need to make a big shoulder turn though to be able to hit from neutral, not to mention open stance.
 

RanchDressing

Hall of Fame
First and foremost, I am a huge admirer of Wawrinka's one-handed backhand. If his ability on his backhand side does not astonish you enough yet, look no further than:

However, I am also an avid student of the game who is always looking for knowledge to improve my game.

So, I would love to discuss any potential "flaws" if I may, about Wawrinka's 1HBH. I am well aware that I will receive backlash for criticising one of the best backhanders on the tour, but please keep an open mind :)

First, let us take a look at a comparison to other 1H'ers as well as 2H'ers. Wawrinka's takeback is noticeably longer than players like Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer. As a result, experts say that this negatively affects his stroke because his backhand…

- Is less effective on grass
- Cannot return first serves without chipping
- Does not compliment a 'hitting on the rise' type of game

So my ultimate question for you is,
Would Wawrinka's stroke mechanics allow him to shorten his take back, or does his immense power and topspin rely on a longer setup?

I think his racquet take back is fine, it comes down to his hip rotation that takes longer than other players. And that's exactly where he gets his power.

On the topic of his effectiveness on grass, and returning first serves with slicing have both to do with his grips. He uses a very extreme grip on both wings, and that makes it very hard to switch from forehand to backand, and makes low balls much more difficult to handle, or at least makes it hard to hit it nearly as hard.

Federer for example is a great returner obviously because he predicts/reads serves very well (cahil or some other announcer told a story where he and fed sat down and tried to predict ivo's serves and fed was nearly 100% accurate at calling the serve before it came while the match was playing), but because he uses more conservative grips, easternish grips. Which means both will be close to continental. Wawrinka has two grips that are far away from each other. Two handers for example, can basically keep their forehand grip, while holding their backhand grip with their non dominant hand. During the turn towards the backhand wing all you have to do is let the dominant hand slide over from forehand to backhand grip.

Here's a great video on wawrinka's backhand, I really loved it, and I think it highlights his hip turn perfectly
 

TennisCJC

Legend
I think Wawa is great but I do think his backswing is best suited for clay and slower hard courts. I also think this has impacted his grass court and fast hard court results. Wawa didn't win USO until they slowed it down. He won AO when it was slower - some said almost as slow as RG when he won. And, I don't think he ever will win Wimby. of course he is a great player so maybe he does win a Wimby with nice draw but faster courts aren't his sweet spot. His power ground game with big swings doesn't transition well to grass with faster and lower bounce. Lendl had the same problem.

Every player has a sweet spot as far as court speed. Federer is best on grass and faster hard courts. Nadal is best on clay. Djokovic is best on medium to slow hard courts. Yes, Djokovic and Nadal did both win Wimby and USO but they don't dominate there like other slams. It is no coincidence that Nadal won 10 RG, Djoko 6 AO during slow court era, and Federer won 8 Wimby and 5 USO during fast era. Murray lost to Federer on a fast hard court long after Federer's prime and Murray said "Federer would still be number 1 if all the courts were this fast". But, these are all great players and they can and have won slams off their best surface.

Since Stan is over 30 and coming back from injury, I don't think we'll see him modify his swings greatly. So maybe no Wimby for Stan.
 

Kylo Reed

Rookie
In general, yet trailing the shoulder turn, twohanded geometry makes the racket stay more in front of your chest. The take back is about the same, but in the follow thru of modern 2hbhs the racket is taken quite abruptly over the opposite shoulder. In the past, Björn Borg got a mixed excecution, when he released the aft hand off the racket and followed thru with only the front hand on the handle. Since him, I cannot recall anybody to have used the same motion, and come to a conclusion, it may not be the best possible practice. Or defenately needs too much personal twist to be easily taught and adopted to work in a heat of a match.

In a onehander the contact point needs to be further forward than with double-handed shot for the front arm building proper geometry in holding the impact force. Shorter core and shoulder range can be used, but since there is only one hand on the racket the available force to change it state (ie. direction of movement) is minor to a two-hander and requires a touch more time than if you have two hands on the stick.

I think, the positon, having the hitting arm compressed across his chest builds a rig similar to the forearm triangular on two-hander giving the racket consistent support thru the swing. Building such posture is really hard, if the take-back is too short and it builds up very late making the shot hard to execute timingswise.

However a kind of shorter delivery is obtained, if the shot is hit from an open to neutral stance instead of closed. You need to make a big shoulder turn though to be able to hit from neutral, not to mention open stance.
From your responses I’ve gathered that the longer load up time in Wawrinka’s powerful backhand is due to his extra hip rotation and build up momentum required for him to keep the arm close to his chest. And a shorter core and shoulder range wouldn’t create the necessary momentum so that isn’t an option.

So, there are two options:

1. Use an open or neutral stance
On other threads, I’ve heard that an open stance one handed backhand shouldn’t be purposely used because the lack of coil/uncoil makes it an ineffective shot. However, considering that Wawrinka opens up more, he would still have some coil/uncoil. I’ve seen Wawrinka use the stance super effectively in defensive situations. If he started using a less closed stance (either open or neutral stance) more aggressively (against first serves and when hitting on the rise), how would this play out?

2. Use a stroke that doesn’t utilize the extra core rotation
As you guys have stated, Wawrinka’s power is due to the arm being close to the chest and him rotating more. However, considering that return of serves and retrieving fast balls don’t require much power generation on the receiver’s end, could his mechanics allow a type of backhand that doesn’t require the arm’s being close to the chest. Or would that type of stroke be too different from his “manual” backhand to hold up in a pressured match?

On the topic of his effectiveness on grass, and returning first serves with slicing have both to do with his grips. He uses a very extreme grip on both wings, and that makes it very hard to switch from forehand to backand, and makes low balls much more difficult to handle, or at least makes it hard to hit it nearly as hard.
Also, about his grip:

I definitely see how Wawrinka’s grips make it harder to switch from forehand to backhand rapidly. My knowledge is that his grip is necessary though, because it prohibits his stroke from being too wristy. Do you guys think there any ways to bypass this? At least for the return of serve?
 
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Bender

G.O.A.T.
I think Nadal needs to shorten his forehand take back. It’s costing him on faster surfaces unless he’s having a good day.


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