Sascha’s forehand grip

Badabing888

Hall of Fame

So I thought it was quite interesting what Petch said on Sky Sports about Sascha’s forhand grip and why it’s leading to so many forehand errors in pressure moments. If you didn’t hear what Petch said in the commentary it was basically that Sascha holds his racquet too high up the handle, so his palm of his hand is fully holding the handle of the racquet. See video above of Sascha’s forehand grip and how high up the hand he holds it.

Petch’s theory is that when Sascha hits forehand shots under pressure he decelerates instead of getting maximum racquet head acceleration on his forehand. So he either dumps the ball in the net (see break of serve) which lost him his serve in the third set v Isner or overplays and goes long. He clearly doesn’t trust it and you can see it’s going to cost him if he doesn’t fix it e.g. he still prefers to play backhand when returning serve from the deuce court which takes him out of court instead of a forehand return.

Compared to a Roger (eastern grip) or a Rafa (semi western) where despite their differing drips they hold it lower and part of the palm of their hand sticks out over the butt of the handle, which means a looser grip, so when they have to play a forehand shot under pressure their wrist is looser and they can generate the necessary racquet head speed for the top spin needed to hit that shot.

So my question is how easy is it for Sascha to solve this - is it a question of just adjusting his grip to hold it lower, which understand is a western grip or does he need to change to eastern or semi western grip to solve this issue?
 

Red Rick

Bionic Poster
I get the feeling he's got a weird combination of pretty semi-wester grip, kinda extended elbow, and no pronation during the downswing, so it's not like he has a motion that automatically opens the racket face.

And he's just insane pusher
 

Badabing888

Hall of Fame
If Petch is right then it’s a glaring tecnical weakness in Sascha’s game and explains why it breaks down at crucial moments. His double handed backhand is superb, but if he doesn’t fix that forehand and dictate play with it then his progress will keep on stalling at the Grand Slams where weaknesses like this are exposed. Still he has a lot of time to fix it and if rumours are true that Lendl is coming on board no doubt this will be top of his list to fix.
 

Badabing888

Hall of Fame
If he has to learn new forehand grips that will need some time to get the muscle memory memorized.
Yep, looking at older pictures of Sascha from a few years ago he’s grown up with his current grip so high up.

My question to any regular players or coaches on here is is it just a case of holding the grip lower or does Sascha need to change grip completely which would obviously be a more fundamental change?
 

Dolgopolov85

G.O.A.T.

So I thought it was quite interesting what Petch said on Sky Sports about Sascha’s forhand grip and why it’s leading to so many forehand errors in pressure moments. If you didn’t hear what Petch said in the commentary it was basically that Sascha holds his racquet too high up the handle, so his palm of his hand is fully holding the handle of the racquet. See video above of Sascha’s forehand grip and how high up the hand he holds it.

Petch’s theory is that when Sascha hits forehand shots under pressure he decelerates instead of getting maximum racquet head acceleration on his forehand. So he either dumps the ball in the net (see break of serve) which lost him his serve in the third set v Isner or overplays and goes long. He clearly doesn’t trust it and you can see it’s going to cost him if he doesn’t fix it e.g. he still prefers to play backhand when returning serve from the deuce court which takes him out of court instead of a forehand return.

Compared to a Roger (eastern grip) or a Rafa (semi western) where despite their differing drips they hold it lower and part of the palm of their hand sticks out over the butt of the handle, which means a looser grip, so when they have to play a forehand shot under pressure their wrist is looser and they can generate the necessary racquet head speed for the top spin needed to hit that shot.

So my question is how easy is it for Sascha to solve this - is it a question of just adjusting his grip to hold it lower, which understand is a western grip or does he need to change to eastern or semi western grip to solve this issue?
I couldn't believe it when I read this post but then I looked up his forehand and yes, you do see too much handle below where he is holding the racquet. How was this not fixed in his junior days itself?
 

Badabing888

Hall of Fame
It worked for Lendl:

http://www.**************.org/imgb/28074/here-are-tennis-top-five-best-forehands-of-all-time.jpg
That is interesting. Lendl had a western grip as well then. May explain why he struggled on grass, because of the lowness of the balls and the western forehand grip better at handling high balls on clay.

Edit- Correction so Lendl had an eastern grip compared to Sascha’s semi western grip. So this would make a difference? Also Sascha is taller than Lendl by 10/11cm.
 
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Sysyphus

Talk Tennis Guru
Does he really choke abnormally much up on the grip though? Would love to see high-quality footage, but it's hard to find.

On first glance it seems relatively normal to me from the pictures I find, when compared to others who also hit something close to 3/4 western. Fair bit of his palm is sticking out beneath the base.




Comparing him to guys who hit straight-arm forehands with more conservative grips than him (Fed, Nadal, Dimitrov etc) can be misleading, because they will often tend to use very pronounced pistol grips, shifting their palms around a lot.

If you look at others with more comparable grips / swings, it's often quite similar to Z.

 
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Wander

Hall of Fame
I don't think the grip is the critical problem in Zverev's forehand. It's just not that good in general. Interesting that his brother's forehand is a bit suspicious too although for somewhat different reasons.
 

Badabing888

Hall of Fame

@3:55 defensive backhand from Isner without pace landing plumb in the middle of the court. Sascha then dumps the ensuing forehand into the net to lose the crucial break, which will cost him the match and title. He should never be missing an easy ball like that on his forehand on break point. If not a technical fault on that side then why is he missing such a crucial shot? It can only be he struggles to generate his own pace with his forehand and opponents are going to pick up on that if they haven’t already. I’ve not see a great inside out forehand from Sascha during his matches.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
He should never be missing an easy ball like that on his forehand on break point. If not a technical fault on that side then why is he missing such a crucial shot? .
Because of the stress of the moment. Fed has the greatest FH in the history of the sport and has smothered FH's into the bottom of the net on hundreds of huge BP or MP chances. Just check out Rome 2006 where he chokes on a FH MP. And there's nothing technically wrong with Roger's FH.
 

cc0509

Talk Tennis Guru
Because of the stress of the moment. Fed has the greatest FH in the history of the sport and has smothered FH's into the bottom of the net on hundreds of huge BP or MP chances. Just check out Rome 2006 where he chokes on a FH MP. And there's nothing technically wrong with Roger's FH.
"Had" the greatest FH in the history of the sport. It's no longer the case. It's still a fantastic shot but it's inconsistent and nowhere near the shot it was in his prime. Nada'sl fh has declined as well and it too is one of the greatest fh shots of all time.
 

Badabing888

Hall of Fame
Because of the stress of the moment. Fed has the greatest FH in the history of the sport and has smothered FH's into the bottom of the net on hundreds of huge BP or MP chances. Just check out Rome 2006 where he chokes on a FH MP. And there's nothing technically wrong with Roger's FH.
As i recall Federer missed that shot in the Rome 2006 Final on match point in the tramlines. That was accuracy and acceptable given the match point and pressure of winning the match point. Not sure I agree Federer dumps forehands off such slow balls into the net. Not to the extent Sascha has. But Sascha’s forehand misses remind me of Murray’s misses on that side - due to an inability to generate enough racquet head speed on slow balls to his forehand. Federer exploited this ruthlessly in the Wimbledon final 2012 by playing sliced backhands a lot to Murray’s forehand in that match. I don’t agree that Federer has an issue with creating racquet head speed off of slow balls in the middle of the court.
 

Sysyphus

Talk Tennis Guru
Hot take — or hot air, depending on how you look at it:

Zverev's technical fundamentals are sound. However, the reason he sometimes struggles on that wing in tense moments has more to do with his execution of that otherwise sound technical form.

But more than that, while his technique in itself is sound, it's probably not a good fit for his stature. Hitting his double-bend style with a relatively extreme grip probably made a lot of sense when he was growing up and wasn't a giraffe and allowed him to hit through high balls when he looked like this:



However, while his particular form would work perfectly fine for guys like Kei Nishikori, Novak Djokovic, or Stan Wawrinka, who are smaller and nimble enough to get down on those pesky low balls, in his current 6'6" frame it makes it uncomfortable to really get down and hit through those incoming floaters in the pressure moments. Another tall guy that similarly at times struggles with inconsistent length control on his forehand especially on lower balls is Taylor Fritz, who similarly has an extreme grip and swing style that isn't a good match for his now 6'4" body.

Who have the most consistently solid forehands of the big guys? In my opinion that's Del Potro and Berdych. Both of them use more conservative grips and swings than Zverev, allowing them to more comfortably kill those low ball even with their size. Del Potro hits a straight-arm forehand with an eastern grip, Berdych hits with a semi-western and slight elbow bend.
 

Hmgraphite1

Hall of Fame
Hot take — or hot air, depending on how you look at it:

Zverev's technical fundamentals are sound. However, the reason he sometimes struggles on that wing in tense moments has more to do with his execution of that otherwise sound technical form.

But more than that, while his technique in itself is sound, it's probably not a good fit for his stature. Hitting his double-bend style with a relatively extreme grip probably made a lot of sense when he was growing up and wasn't a giraffe and allowed him to hit through high balls when he looked like this:



However, while his particular form would work perfectly fine for guys like Kei Nishikori, Novak Djokovic, or Stan Wawrinka, who are smaller and nimble enough to get down on those pesky low balls, in his current 6'6" frame it makes it uncomfortable to really get down and hit through those incoming floaters in the pressure moments. Another tall guy that similarly at times struggles with inconsistent length control on his forehand especially on lower balls is Taylor Fritz, who similarly has an extreme grip and swing style that isn't a good match for his now 6'4" body.

Who have the most consistently solid forehands of the big guys? In my opinion that's Del Potro and Berdych. Both of them use more conservative grips and swings than Zverev, allowing them to more comfortably kill those low ball even with their size. Del Potro hits a straight-arm forehand with an eastern grip, Berdych hits with a semi-western and slight elbow bend.
Good point regarding growing out of a grip as you get taller. Seems like something that would have a lot of data at this point in time.
 

Zoid

Hall of Fame
Current coach and ex-player, just my two cents. I'm not sold that it his high choke on the racquet handle is so much the problem.

A lot of players choke up on the forehand grip and have great forehands; sock, nishikori, lendl, nalbandian.

My gripe with his forehand is in his flexed forearm on the take back. It's not relaxed when he takes the racquet back with the strings facing his opponent. Compare to most other pros who 'lay' the wrist back to get the strings facing the back fence, it doesn't allow the free whip or relaxed power you can generate from this palm to the ground preparation. Sock and Kyrgios are others who come to mind with this flexed forearm take back, but I believe both their racquet set ups are quiet headlight allowing for my whip. Look at the amount of 'lag' guys with the layed back preparation can generate, and when looking at sascha it looks quite stiff. I have no idea what Sascha's stick is like, but he should consider looking at the closed face take back most pros are using, it allows for a relaxed wrist.
 

Badabing888

Hall of Fame
I think Djokovic also holds racquet high up the handle. Poor analysis.
It’s not poor analysis. Sascha is 4 inches taller than Novak, what works for him doesn’t necessarily work for Sascha. The question is why Sascha struggles to generate his own pace on that side when under pressure. It invariably breaks down. He’s fine on that side when he’s playing a ball from the other player which has pace on it or playing a forehand on the run.

I have rarely seen him play many inside out forehands either, which would really add something to his repertoire.

His natural instinct when returning from the deuce side when the server serves into his body is to turn and play a backhand return when a forehand return is easier. Which is plain daft as he is taking a step to his right to play it which makes it harder to cover back the ad side of the court when the server plays it there.

Ultimately Sascha doesn’t trust his forehand enough and it breaks down too often under pressure and it will keep on holding him back going further on the majors and getting to number 1 until he either fixes it or hides it well enough. He can smash as many racquets as he likes if this is the weakness that is costing him IMO.
 

Sum Buddy Ells

Hall of Fame
I say forget Lendl, and bring in someone who's had a considerably good career with a truly reliable, fiercely-gripped forehand XD

 
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