Is the Federer FH overrated?

beltsman

G.O.A.T.
Just asking the question. He couldn't hit through Nadal on grass in 06, 07, 08. I understand that the grass was basically clay, but still. If the RF FH is GOAT, why could he never hit through Nadal?

I'll add in that when he DID hit through Nadal it was due to taking the ball early. I don't think Federer has ever hit through Nadal clean from the baseline.

Inb4 no one hit through Nadal. Plenty of people did back then. Just asking.
 

junior74

Talk Tennis Guru
I don't think so. But hey! He is not Thiem! ;)

Nadal's defence was so much better back then. Man, they were both so quick on their feet! Now they look like old men, and there is not much explosive movement left in their bodies.
 
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ForehandCross

G.O.A.T.
Blasphemy ! And what world you are living in OP.

And before anybody actually agrees with it go through these matches
Especially @beltsman

Federer hit through Nadal several times Dubai 2006 1st set, Rome 2006, YEC 2006, Hamburg 2007 ,2007 YEC, 2009 AO he did well , 2010 YEC, 2011 YEC, 2012 IW, 2017 IW.
 

The Guru

Legend
It's only overrated in the sense that people say it's better than Rafa's but it's the second best groundstroke of all time so I'd say it's pretty good.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
At Fed's peak his FH was by far the best I've ever seen. I'd say it's overrated in terms of longevity though.

After 2012 it just disappeared and is the main reason he didn't win a slam for nearly 5 years after. He went from a player who could blast FH winners out of every position to needing a short ball to pounce every time.
 

Lew II

G.O.A.T.
His fh is overrated and his serve is underrated. Many of his fh winners come after a big serve to open the court.

He's one of the players with the biggest difference between points won on serve and points won on return, which means he relies a lot on his serve:

Sampras +31.43%
Federer 30.10
Becker 28.83
Courier 27.03
Lendl 25.36
Djokovic 25.16
Nadal 25.10
McEnroe 25.03
Agassi 24.17
Edberg 23.63
Murray 23.16
Wilander 20.64
Connors 17.80
 

junior74

Talk Tennis Guru
His fh is overrated and his serve is underrated. Many of his fh winners come after a big serve to open the court.

He's one of the players with the biggest difference between points won on serve and points won on return, which means he relies a lot on his serve:

Sampras +31.43%
Federer 30.10
Becker 28.83
Courier 27.03
Lendl 25.36
Djokovic 25.16
Nadal 25.10
McEnroe 25.03
Agassi 24.17
Edberg 23.63
Murray 23.16
Wilander 20.64
Connors 17.80

Federer does not have a big serve. He has top placement, variation and disguise which often results in one two combos.
 
His fh is overrated and his serve is underrated. Many of his fh winners come after a big serve to open the court.

He's one of the players with the biggest difference between points won on serve and points won on return, which means he relies a lot on his serve:

Sampras +31.43%
Federer 30.10
Becker 28.83
Courier 27.03
Lendl 25.36
Djokovic 25.16
Nadal 25.10
McEnroe 25.03
Agassi 24.17
Edberg 23.63
Murray 23.16
Wilander 20.64
Connors 17.80
Federer is 10th overall in return games won (26.3%) in the last 52 weeks. 11th in return rating. He's a good bit more reliant on his serve now than he was in his younger, better days. Let's not act like he's a total mug in this department. Well, sometimes. So what. Serving is part of the game.
 

Lew II

G.O.A.T.
Try to explain the difference between a service game and serve as a stroke to Lew.

Just kidding, don't bother.
Serve is one of the main factors to hold a service game. The stat I posted was about service points, btw.
 

The Guru

Legend
Nadal says Fed's is.

Humble or fact :unsure:
I just don't get the claim. If Fed is a much better server (most important shot) better volleyer, better slice, similar backhand, better touch, better variation, if his forehand is better too how in the world is Nadal as good or better than Federer. How did Nadal ever win a match against Fed if he's worse at everything except movement (and you could argue footwork). Nadal has to be better at something or else Fed would be a way better tennis player. How does Nadal dominate groundstroke rallies more than Fed if his forehand as well as everything else is worse. Nadal's forehand must be better. And it is. Again no disrespect to Fed's FH it is the second best groundstroke ever which is amazing.
 
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NatF

Bionic Poster
I just don't get the claim. If Fed is a much better server (most important shot) better volleyer, better slice, similar backhand, better touch, better variation, if his forehand is better too how in the world is Nadal as good or better than Federer. How did Nadal ever win a match against Fed if he's worse at everything except movement (and you could argue footwork). Nadal has to be better at something or else Fed would be a way better tennis player. How does Nadal dominate groundstroke rallies more than Fed if his forehand as well as everything else is worse. Nadal's forehand must be better. And it is. Again no disrespect to Fed's FH it is the second best groundstroke ever which is amazing.

Nadal is better in defence, mentally stronger and has a better backhand.

Obviously on clay Nadal's forehand is better but if you look at the other surfaces it's clear that Nadal isn't as good as Federer so I see no problem in the claim that Federer has the better shot off that wing.
 

The Guru

Legend
Nadal is better in defence, mentally stronger and has a better backhand.

Obviously on clay Nadal's forehand is better but if you look at the other surfaces it's clear that Nadal isn't as good as Federer so I see no problem in the claim that Federer has the better shot off that wing.
If by defense you mean he moves better and hits better defensive forehands (and backhands) then yeah I agree but that's part of having a good forehand. I don't think better mental strength and a slightly better BH (which for both Fed and Nadal is far less important than their FH) is enough to make Nadal a competitor of Fed's if he's worse or even significantly worse in all the other categories I listed. I maintain that Nadal's forehand must be better logically speaking or else Fed would whoop him all the time and that obviously hasn't been the case.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
If by defense you mean he moves better and hits better defensive forehands (and backhands) then yeah I agree but that's part of having a good forehand. I don't think better mental strength and a slightly better BH (which for both Fed and Nadal is far less important than their FH) is enough to make Nadal a competitor of Fed's if he's worse or even significantly worse in all the other categories I listed. I maintain that Nadal's forehand must be better logically speaking or else Fed would whoop him all the time and that obviously hasn't been the case.

Nadal's backhand is much less susceptible to the Federer forehand than the other way around e.g. the one handed affect. There's a reason why Nadal had proportionally more success against Fed on HC than the rest of the top 10 for years despite Federer being obviously a much better opponent then the rank and file top 10'ers. The combination of defence, mental strength and a go to play was the recipe for success for a long time. Look at how Federer has turned the match up around now Nadal's movement has declined - despite his own also diminishing. Nadal's ability to hit winners from impossible positions and a go to corner off the ground to hit to is the story of most of their match up.

Beyond this on the whole I don't see Nadal as consistently near Federer on grass or HC peak for peak so again there's no logical conundrum.
 
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AnOctorokForDinner

Talk Tennis Guru
If by defense you mean he moves better and hits better defensive forehands (and backhands) then yeah I agree but that's part of having a good forehand. I don't think better mental strength and a slightly better BH (which for both Fed and Nadal is far less important than their FH) is enough to make Nadal a competitor of Fed's if he's worse or even significantly worse in all the other categories I listed. I maintain that Nadal's forehand must be better logically speaking or else Fed would whoop him all the time and that obviously hasn't been the case.

FH-to-BH rallies are very important in their match-up. Nadal's topspin BH being significantly more durable at the time matters a great deal. It's the logical opposite: Federer's forehand must be better or else he'd never get even with Nadal if the latter was better off the ground altogether. Can't get that far on serve-return balance alone, even Djokovic with his serve-return combo being comprehensively better than Nadal's wouldn't have subdued him on that alone without the mighty BH he's got. Clay is where Nadal has been superior to Federer off both wings and look what their H2H is there.
 

PrinceMoron

Legend
2011 WTF

Kids in Nadal caps were crying as Federer’s forehand went past Nadal over and over. Parents did not know where to look.

Right and left, short and wide. Nadal was stranded


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Maverick13

Semi-Pro
Federer has the best forehand in the history of the game. That’s pretty universally accepted to anyone who knows tennis other than haters. That is all. Saying the best shot ever is overrated sounds kinda foolish.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
Not only in the FH debate between Fed and Nadal, but looking across their games, I feel Federer often has shown some of the best shots on the court. One might argue his "peak or ultimate" shot is often better than Nadal's, but Nadal has the ability to stay closer to his peak shots across the board.

If the quality of a FH is rated at on a 10 pt scale, you might argue Federer on HC/Grass has shot off more 10's then Nadal, but on average Federer's FH might be a 9 while Nadal gets a 9.5.

I always look at Roger's game as a fine tuned sports car, when it is working, it is awesome, but if something is off he can be in trouble. So when on, he'll have amazing performances to view.
Nadal is like a hefty utility truck, it is already to perform and if something is off it often can keep on trucking. He might have less ballet like performances, but gets the job done.
 

JaoSousa

Hall of Fame
His fh is overrated and his serve is underrated. Many of his fh winners come after a big serve to open the court.

He's one of the players with the biggest difference between points won on serve and points won on return, which means he relies a lot on his serve:

Sampras +31.43%
Federer 30.10
Becker 28.83
Courier 27.03
Lendl 25.36
Djokovic 25.16
Nadal 25.10
McEnroe 25.03
Agassi 24.17
Edberg 23.63
Murray 23.16
Wilander 20.64
Connors 17.80
I see no Karlovic, Isner, Roddick...
Surprising, don't you think?
 

Jonesy

Legend
We'll see if Nadal forehand will decline like Federer did. If not, Nadal will feast in the next years and the discussion what is the best forehand will reach its conclusion.
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
No, I just think Nadal's forehand is a tad underrated because he doesn't have Federer's variety or constantly hit winners with it. I rate Nadal's forehand above Fed's because it slowly but surely breaks any and every opponent down. Federer hits it bigger with better technique, but Nadal's is more consistent and effective.
 

Rocket54

New User
Just asking the question. He couldn't hit through Nadal on grass in 06, 07, 08. I understand that the grass was basically clay, but still. If the RF FH is GOAT, why could he never hit through Nadal?

I'll add in that when he DID hit through Nadal it was due to taking the ball early. I don't think Federer has ever hit through Nadal clean from the baseline.

Inb4 no one hit through Nadal. Plenty of people did back then. Just asking.
Clearly overrated, the guy can barely hit the shot. One of the worst forehands of the open era.
 

Zoid

Hall of Fame
Pretty simple equation - in modern times you need brute strength to have a truly damaging forehand. Before this era, on a true fast court, a weapon was not through brute strength - but more about timing. On a fast surface federer's forehand is the most lethal groundstroke the game has ever seen, because I can't think of anyone else possessing a shot whereby they had at their disposal; the ability to take it extremely early, ability to flatten it out, and ability to apply extreme spin, all in one forehand.

Most players can only tick 2/3. Fed can tick 3. That for me is why it is better than Rafa's. On a true quick and low court Rafa's forehand gets found out.

On a slow court Fed's forehand lacks monstrous pace, that's all.
 

KINGROGER

G.O.A.T.
Just asking the question. He couldn't hit through Nadal on grass in 06, 07, 08. I understand that the grass was basically clay, but still. If the RF FH is GOAT, why could he never hit through Nadal?

I'll add in that when he DID hit through Nadal it was due to taking the ball early. I don't think Federer has ever hit through Nadal clean from the baseline.

Inb4 no one hit through Nadal. Plenty of people did back then. Just asking.
Watch their 06-07 YEC matches on a close to fast court.
 

SQA333

Hall of Fame
Pretty simple equation - in modern times you need brute strength to have a truly damaging forehand. Before this era, on a true fast court, a weapon was not through brute strength - but more about timing. On a fast surface federer's forehand is the most lethal groundstroke the game has ever seen, because I can't think of anyone else possessing a shot whereby they had at their disposal; the ability to take it extremely early, ability to flatten it out, and ability to apply extreme spin, all in one forehand.

Most players can only tick 2/3. Fed can tick 3. That for me is why it is better than Rafa's. On a true quick and low court Rafa's forehand gets found out.

On a slow court Fed's forehand lacks monstrous pace, that's all.

Great analysis that cannot be comprehended by the young-ins who started following tennis in 2011.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Pretty simple equation - in modern times you need brute strength to have a truly damaging forehand. Before this era, on a true fast court, a weapon was not through brute strength - but more about timing. On a fast surface federer's forehand is the most lethal groundstroke the game has ever seen, because I can't think of anyone else possessing a shot whereby they had at their disposal; the ability to take it extremely early, ability to flatten it out, and ability to apply extreme spin, all in one forehand.

Most players can only tick 2/3. Fed can tick 3. That for me is why it is better than Rafa's. On a true quick and low court Rafa's forehand gets found out.

On a slow court Fed's forehand lacks monstrous pace, that's all.
You gotta rewatch the 04 AO then. In 05 and 06 AO too I remember multiple FHs above 100 mph.

Even his 09/10 FH at AO is up there with anyone's on a slow hard court. Heck even in 2012, you could say his FH was the best in the world everywhere but clay.

Guys like Delpo/Gonzo (and hell even Murray) can hit forehands harder when they have time because of technical differences, but in terms of applying pace to rally balls 04-06 Fed is pretty unmatched. Hitting a 100 mph FH off a rally ball with minimal setup time is really hard to do and Fed would do it. Blake too could bring that power without tons of time but he was too inconsistent.
 

Zoid

Hall of Fame
You gotta rewatch the 04 AO then. In 05 and 06 AO too I remember multiple FHs above 100 mph.

Even his 09/10 FH at AO is up there with anyone's on a slow hard court. Heck even in 2012, you could say his FH was the best in the world everywhere but clay.

Guys like Delpo/Gonzo (and hell even Murray) can hit forehands harder when they have time because of technical differences, but in terms of applying pace to rally balls 04-06 Fed is pretty unmatched. Hitting a 100 mph FH off a rally ball with minimal setup time is really hard to do and Fed would do it. Blake too could bring that power without tons of time but he was too inconsistent.

Yes but that's my point - those 100mph plus forehands were due to the incoming ball probably coming faster due to a faster court/lighter balls. Now that conditions are slower and heavier, taking the ball early has lost its effectiveness.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Yes but that's my point - those 100mph plus forehands were due to the incoming ball probably coming faster due to a faster court/lighter balls. Now that conditions are slower and heavier, taking the ball early has lost its effectiveness.
I don't think current conditions at the AO are that much slower than they were in Federer's peak if at all. In fact 2017 was clearly faster and 2018 too for that matter. From 10-15 or so things were pretty slow, but there wasn't a FH better than Fed's in the 2010 and 2012 versions at least. I think taking the ball early is pretty much always effective no matter if you're hitting a flat offensive shot or a spin heavy shot on a slower surface because it means your preparation is quicker and you also take preparation time away from your opponent. No one does it today not because it's not effective, but because they don't move well enough to do it. The best mover on tour is a 33 year old, who even at his quickest didn't have the style of movement needed to really take balls early.
 

tudwell

G.O.A.T.
I can never choose between Nadal’s and Federer’s forehand. They’re both incredible, with different strengths and weaknesses. Federer takes time away like no one else. He doesn’t just hit winners with brute force, it’s timing and placement. And his inside-in forehand is just awesome. He can’t match Nadal’s bullet inside-out forehand, as great as his own I/O is, but he does the inside-in better than anyone in my opinion. The only weakness is when his footwork is slow he mistimes a bunch of shots and can spew errors.

But it’s hard to directly compare because the dynamic is just completely different with Nadal being a lefty. He has the advantage of his most comfortable, high-percentage play – the cross-court forehand – going to 90% of players’ backhands. Fed has to go forehand to forehand, so he has to change it up more going down the line or up the middle, while Nadal can hit safe cross-court forehands all day and still win against lesser guys. Though of course he’s deadly much of the time when he does take it up the line or run around a backhand, which I think he’s better than Federer at. Nadal’s main weakness is getting overpowered on low-bouncing courts. Flat backhands indoors can really neutralize Nadal’s forehand.

In the end, I really don’t think there’s any way to say one is better than the other. The two greatest forehands of all time.
 

Zoid

Hall of Fame
I don't think current conditions at the AO are that much slower than they were in Federer's peak if at all. In fact 2017 was clearly faster and 2018 too for that matter. From 10-15 or so things were pretty slow, but there wasn't a FH better than Fed's in the 2010 and 2012 versions at least. I think taking the ball early is pretty much always effective no matter if you're hitting a flat offensive shot or a spin heavy shot on a slower surface because it means your preparation is quicker and you also take preparation time away from your opponent. No one does it today not because it's not effective, but because they don't move well enough to do it. The best mover on tour is a 33 year old, who even at his quickest didn't have the style of movement needed to really take balls early.

Data on 17/18 aus being as fast or faster in green courts circa until 07? I'm not so sure. I think on top of the courts, balls are fluffier than they used to be also. A night final at Aus open is radically different to day time as Melbourne day temp can approach 40 (celcius) and that same night be in the teens. Massively different pace with the same balls.

Taking the ball early IS always effective, but not effective enough against all-time great movers like Rafa and Nole who's end-range shots are on another level.

No one does it today mainly because of the grip/swing combo more so than movement IMO. More extreme grips and swings need a higher bounce generally and lighter frames don't take kindly to a slight mishit. I'm thinking of Fritz, Kach, Kyrgios - all whom can take backhands very early with great effectiveness, but forehands hardly at all.
 

Backspin1183

Talk Tennis Guru
At Fed's peak his FH was by far the best I've ever seen. I'd say it's overrated in terms of longevity though.

After 2012 it just disappeared and is the main reason he didn't win a slam for nearly 5 years after. He went from a player who could blast FH winners out of every position to needing a short ball to pounce every time.

When it comes to Federer forehand vs Nadal forehand, I also tend to think of Fed's forehand having a higher peak but Nadal's been more consistent over the years.
 

Fridge

Professional
Ask yourself this question, Would you rather have Fed's or Nadal's FH for your own game? I would easily take Rafa without a second thought. He is much more consistent from the ground whereas Fed shanks it. Rafa's will also beat you down slowly and in the end leave you exhausted after a few minutes from rallying. So the obvious answer is Rafa's 10 times out of time.
 

tudwell

G.O.A.T.
Ask yourself this question, Would you rather have Fed's or Nadal's FH for your own game? I would easily take Rafa without a second thought. He is much more consistent from the ground whereas Fed shanks it. Rafa's will also beat you down slowly and in the end leave you exhausted after a few minutes from rallying. So the obvious answer is Rafa's 10 times out of time.
It depends on the rest of your game, though. Without Nadal’s foot speed, that consistency won’t be as damaging. Just look at Roddick. Way more success when he went for broke on the forehand. Sure, he made plenty of errors, but he also won a lot of points. When he tried to grind it out from six feet behind the baseline, he got outplayed because he just didn’t have the movement to do that. It’s all about risk vs. reward. In the past, Nadal didn’t need to take risks because he knew he could run down anything his opponent threw at him. Now he takes a lot more risks and hits a lot more errors as a result. Fed could hit heavy looping crosscourt forehands all day if he wanted, but it wouldn’t be as effective for him because he’s not as fast as Nadal.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
At Fed's peak his FH was by far the best I've ever seen. I'd say it's overrated in terms of longevity though.
A valid point. I saw Agassi play live as a junior when he was 11 and saw him again live at age 35, a 24 year time span. His FH was awesome from first to last. Andre blasted his FH as hard and as accurately at age 35 as he did at age 20. Fed's FH fell off a cliff, but his peak FH was the greatest shot in tennis history. Nadal's FH has also declined significantly since 2006-2010.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
Ask yourself this question, Would you rather have Fed's or Nadal's FH for your own game? I would easily take Rafa without a second thought. He is much more consistent from the ground whereas Fed shanks it. Rafa's will also beat you down slowly and in the end leave you exhausted after a few minutes from rallying. So the obvious answer is Rafa's 10 times out of time.
Post any list of greatest men's FH's where Nadal is placed ahead of Federer (unless it's a list you conjured up on your own).

While we're waiting, I can post countless ones where Roger is ahead of Nadal:

http://tennisgrandstand.com/2017/02/15/the-greatest-forehands-in-tennis-history-ranked/

https://bleacherreport.com/articles...18-forehands-in-mens-tennis-2000-2010#slide18

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/09/sports/tennis/who-has-the-best-shots-in-mens-tennis.html

https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/474-ballotatp2/69a1bf15b4b561e2afc2/optimized/full.pdf
 
No, it's not overrated, OP. It is one of the greatest shots in tennis history. Now, if you say it must be the GFOAT to not be overrated, then I guess you're right. Lots of great forehands in tennis history, and I am reluctant to say Roger's is the GFOAT.
 
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