The backhands of Berasategui and Borg?

erik-the-red

Semi-Pro
A lot of people say Borg had a double-handed backhand.

It is true that he set up his shot with two hands on the handle.

But, when he made contact he loosened up his right hand off the racquet and finished like a single-handed backhand.

Did Alberto Berasategui do this as well?
 

paulfreda

Hall of Fame
I do not remember that about Borg.
He had a 2 hander all the way as I recall.
There were a few shots where he would release, but that was not his usual shot.
(BTW, you mean he loosened up and let go with his LEFT hand I hope)

Do not know about AB.
 
Berasategui did finish with one hand.

In fact his mechanics were more like a 1 handed backhand through the swing, he just took it back with 2.
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
Borg had a pretty classic two-hander. However, there were times when he would let go of the handle with his left hand as the follow through reached shoulder height, especially when he hit on the run. Here is a picture of what I am talking about.

 

POGO

Hall of Fame
I think their 2hb techinque is entirely different than what is now. Back then, they use their dominant arm, the arm they use for forehand, to drive the ball, the non dominant hand was just there for support.

Today, the 2hb backhand is driven by the non dominant arm, the arm not use with the forehand, to drive the ball. This gives you more power and topspin IMHO.

You will not really see today's 2hb backhanders following through with on hand like pictured with borg above.
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
I don't know if Borg left much of gap between his hands on the two handed backhand... I was trying to find a picture that showed his grip up close enough to tell. (If I find a good one, I will post it.) I do know that his Donnay racquets had an extra long grip to accommodate his two-hander.

By the way, as I was searching the web to find a good picture, I ran across this excerpt from Borg's book My Life and Game:

Chapter 7 Getting the Ball Over the Net (pages 128-145):

If I strike a ball that lands a foot from my opponent's base line, it's an accident, because I'm only aiming for two yards past the service box--for security [that is 12 feet in front of the baseline]. My ground strokes are so wristy that it would be impossible for me to control a ball regularly that's aimed for the base line. I do get depth, however, by using murderous top spin, which carries the ball deep into the back court after the bounce. In this fashion I achieve both depth and margin for error.

It's all possible because of my "crazy" western forehand grip and wristy two-handed backhand, both of which force me to hit with exaggerated overspin. Violent top spin is my trademark, and I hadn't had the courage to improvise when I was young, and shatter the conventional beliefs about grips and depth, I might still be struggling through the qualifying rounds at Wimbledon rather than shooting for a string of successive titles.

My grips are anything but standard. I use the western grip for my forehand, which is rare among the pros. For the backhand I have the more accepted eastern, though my application is different from the norm; I drop my wrists so the racquet head is below the level of my hand. The racquet for my return of service rests in the backhand grip, and for all other strokes, forehand volley, backhand volley, serve and overhead, I use the continental grip.

It is very important to hit the ball well in front of your hips. You can't see the ball properly if you let it get past your body... Yet, on the volley don't hit as far out in front as the books say. Hold your racquet 'way in front of you and see how flimsy it is. A ball hitting in this position would receive no power. Now put your racquet just slightly in front, with your elbow pushed into your side, and feel the power and leverage.

BACKHAND

...I have to prepare earlier and bend my knees more on the two-handed shot than on my one-handed forehand...

I place my right hand on the racquet as if the stroke were a standard one-handed eastern backhand. The left hand is placed above the right in a position in which I could hit a choked-up left-handed western forehand if I took my right hand away. I bring the racquet back slightly below my knees and close to my side with a small loop on the way back and both wrists cocked downward. I actually drop the racquet face below the level of my wrists to exaggerate the racquet head sweep from low to high, which also exaggerates the amount of top spin put on the return.

Jimmy Connors, on the other hand, brings his racquet straight back with a firm wrist slightly below his waist. Our different style results in a different type of shot. Connors' is flat, hard and deep, clearing the net by a few inches, but mine relies heavily on overspin, clearing the net by a foot or more and with varying depths.

As I pull the racquet forward, my wrists explode the racquet face under the ball snapping upward to shoot tremendous top spin into the shot.

My right shoulder, which points toward the net on the backswing is parallel to the net at the end of the stroke, with the racquet head finishing on the right side of my body, two feet above my head on the follow-through. But the follow-through changes a lot on every stroke, depending on where the ball has bounced, where I want to hit it, and how much time I have.

My backhand is built for my game, patience in the backcourt and top-spin passing shots, while Connors' backhand is an offensive weapon, hit aggressively to draw a short return so Jimmy can attack at net. If I had to compare his backhand and mine in a few words, I'd say mine is efficient, his is flamboyant.


From this description, it doesn't necessarily sound like his right hand was doing more work than his left hand on the two-hander, or that he purposely/consciously let go with his left hand on the follow-through (even though he often did). Rather, it sounds like a pretty classic modern two-hand backhand. ;)
 

POGO

Hall of Fame
erik-the-red said:
POGO, does driving with the dominant arm more than the non-dominant arm result in a tendency for more backspin?
I guess if your dominant arm is leading or driving the ball more you may hit with a slight open face on contact that may produce a backspin.

Depends also you your grip, for example, I have a 2hb and I'm a righty. My right hand is continetal and my left arm (the arm driving the ball) is forehand eastern grip. On my take back, my left wrist is laid back posistion so when I hit from low to high, my racket head will hit the ball square on contact with pace and topspin.

Like this. Notice Serena's wrists, left hand is laid back, same principle as a laid back wrist on your forehand to impart spin.

http://cache.gettyimages.com/comp/52270858.jpg?x=x&dasite=MS_GINS&ef=2&ev=1&dareq=1562F455D739C8E608E3E37E114E692FA9C30E9B9B114CE8
 

urban

Legend
Thats all nice and technical precise, but can someone explain me the biomechanics of Berataseguis forehand, which he hit with his backhand side.
 

erik-the-red

Semi-Pro
urban, since I have no recollection of the 1994 Final at Roland Garros, what do you mean by Berasategui hitting his forehand with his backhand side?
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
Thats all nice and technical precise, but can someone explain me the biomechanics of Berataseguis forehand, which he hit with his backhand side.
Berasategui's forehand was a train wreck biomechanically. He had such an extreme western grip on his forehand that he actually struck the ball on the same side of the strings as his backhand. Here are some pictures of this:





You would never want to teach someone to hit this way or emulate it. I was amazing that he ever made it as far as he did with those kind of mechanics - and it made for a huge weakness on fast surfaces. A person can hit just as much spin and drive the ball better with a less extreme western grip, a la Nadal and Roddick. It just goes to show you that if you practice something enough, you can make it work (even if it is not textbook or efficient).
 

erik-the-red

Semi-Pro
Jack, thanks for the pictures.

But, if somebody had an eastern single-handed backhand and a western forehand, then he could also hit with the same side of the racquet face as well, right?
 

urban

Legend
Thanks for the picture. You feel pain, if you even see it. I saw sometime ago an old film clip with an even older (Sir) Norman Brookes - a wimbledon winner in the stoneage. I think he played his backhand with his forehand-side.
 

panatta

Rookie
Jack the Hack said:
Borg had a pretty classic two-hander. However, there were times when he would let go of the handle with his left hand as the follow through reached shoulder height, especially when he hit on the run. Here is a picture of what I am talking about.

You're right. I saw many tapes of Borg. Maybe he started doing this when he played Wimbledon the first time. In fact, he had to "invent" a slice backhand to go to the net on grass and he did it with 2 hands, but he released the left hand while hitting. He used the left hand only to "push" the racquet forward with more energy. Then he did it also for the topspin backhand and he played in that way until the end of his career.
After his retire, he played a few times in exhibition and he used to play a one-handed backhand. Berasategui had a similar way to play his backhand but he used much more his wrist (as he did with his incredible "hawaiian" forehand)
 

panatta

Rookie
I do know that his Donnay racquets had an extra long grip to accommodate his two-hander.

Yes, it had. In my club a tourist had that racquet, even though he didn't use it. But, of course, it was the racquet ot the great Bjorn Borg! I convinced him to let me play with that racquet, at least one time in my life. It had a very long grip. The grip was long until the heart of the racquet and was very comfortable.
It wasn't a light racquet but the feeling of power it gave was incredible. It was a wood racquet but I almost felt to play with a modern one. At that time I was playing with a Donnay Pro One (Agassi won Wimbledon with that racquet) and I even had the feeling that Borg's racquet was more powerful.
Or maybe It was due to the suggestion of his legend.. :--)
 

VictorS.

Professional
So from a fundamental standpoint, Borg had a closed stance with his right hand in an eastern bh grip (which many pros use for a one-handed BH today), and his left hand was in a western forehand grip. So his preparation appears to have been more similar to a one-handed BH. My question is, which hand dominated the stroke (right or left)? Or was it more 50/50 than anything?
 
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