The three great two handers.

BTURNER

Legend
I always found it odd that within a 4 year span three all time greats soared to the very top of the sport, with double handers when they lived, trained far apart, never went to the same academy or had the same coaching in a world, where very rarely was a two hander was sitting in the top five or ten prior beforehand, where the stroke was pretty much discouraged, where 3 of 4 majors were played on grass and serve/volley was king. Evert was sitting in Florida, Connor in Southern California, and Borg in Scandinavia.
Each developed their stroke in isolation from each other. Segura surely influenced Connors, but neither Borg nor Evert had such a strong early influence.

I am not much for coincidence. The question is why from 1972-1975 for all three separately, rather than from 1962-1965, or from 1952-1955? Did something change to make this shot more successful, or was it just lightening striking in California, Florida and Sweden?
 

DMan

Professional
I don't know all that much about Connors development as a player. Evert often talked about when she started she was very young, and felt the racquet was too heavy for her to hit a one handed backhand, which is why she used two. I believe a top junior a few years older than her - Peaches Bartkowicz - used two hands, as did Eddie Dibbs. I'm sure as she developed her strokes and consistency, her father probably realized the two hander was an asset. And the rest is, history. Or should I say, herstory!

As for Borg, being from Sweden he played hockey as a kid, gripping the stick with two hands was common, especially for younger players. I believe he adapted that feel once he picked up a racquet. With his looping stroke, using two hands helped him hit with more topspin.

Connors, Evert, and Borg were born in 1952, 1954, and 1956 respectively. All made their mark in the pros as teenagers, although much more so for Borg and Evert than Connors.

There were a smattering of players who used two hands. South African Frew McMillan used two hands on both sides. Connors, Evert, and Borg were the tennis titans of the 1970s, coming of age and becoming the face of the sport when it reached its zenith and popularity in the eyes of the general public. This could be one reason why they stand out so much. I don't think it was lightning. I believe it was a combination of extraordinary ball control, quick feet, great anticipation, and a strong desire to win that enabled these double handers to make the shot into what is now - almost universal as far as what most players use today. Also, all three were also savvy enough to recognize the limitation two hands would put on them, so they also were able to ditch the 2nd hand when necessary to extend rallies.

Great players rise to the occasion. Which is why Connors, Evert, and Borg - primarily baseliners in a world of mostly serve-and-volleyers - were able to succeed and rise to the top at a time when 2-3 of the 4 majors were on grass, a slick, unpredictable surface not necessarily kind to players reliant on using two hands for a stroke that extends across their body.

Jimmy, Chris, and Bjorn were similar for their two handed backhand, counter punching, mostly baseline style of play. However, they were also unique in style and temperament, and appeal to fans and other players. They deserve credit for influencing a generation of players that came after them. Djokovic, Nadal, Serena have all eclipsed those 3 in terms of number of major wins. But Connors, Evert, and Borg were successful with their games at a time when they were more trailblazer than copycat.
 

DMP

Professional
They were all born between 1952-56. Let's say they started seriously being coached when they were around the age of 10, which is 1962-64. I think you/we need to ask what was happening in 1962-64 to make their coaches let them persevere with the two-hander, which is a natural shot for a child because of the weight of the old wooden rackets. The two-hander had popped up for many years, but was always a rarity and not a shot the really top players used, but for some reason in that period those three coaches let their students run. Why?

I have some thoughts, but no time as I write. I will return later....
 

DMP

Professional
I'm baaack:)

Your question is one that has interested me and that I have thought about, without having any definite answers. I think to answer it we need to consider two things - the status of tennis and the status of society at the time period of interest, which is the mid-60s.

Tennis: This was in a bit of a lull I would say. The professional tour was starting to decline because after Laver no-one important could be enticed to join, and there was the rising shamateurism in the amateur ranks. In 1962 there was little talk of the need to merge the two tours, but by 1966 there was a definite beating of the jungle drums that things might change. So the mid-60s was a sort of transitional time in tennis. However there was no way at that time that anyone could have suspected the floodgates which open tennis would release. So my conclusion is that there is nothing in the state of tennis per se which would explain what happened. You can sort of understand Connors because he was coached by Segura, but Evert's dad was a coach, as was Bergelin with Borg, and you would expect them to have been more traditional. I have not read that either gave specific reasons why they stuck with two-handed play, other than the obvious one that Evert and Borg were naturally very good. That doesn't really explain why they stuck with it, when the vast majority of other good players were being encouraged to be one-handed.

My overall feeling is that it was more the changes that were happening in society that explain what happened.

Society: The mid-60s was the period of the great change in society. The old order and way of thinking which had held sway since the end of WW2 was being swept away in almost every area, and was being driven by rebellious, or at least non-conforming youth. So you had the Beatles, pot, LSD, Woodstock, the Vietnam war and the protests against it. Everywhere there was change in the air. There was also the ever-present spectre of nuclear annihiliation (hard for the youth of today to imagine). I think this led to an attitude of mind that now was the time to try new things - in the words of the Mammas and Pappas it was time to "go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do" - otherwise it might all be too late as we were fried to a nuclear crisp.

I think it was that attitude of mind that encouraged the coaches of Connors, Evert and Borg to really try something new. And of course it was successful, so in 1980 the next generation of 10 year-olds saw what was happening and more of them wanted to be like Connors/Evert/Borg, and so it has gone on since with each new wave trying to emulate their heroes.

My two cents worth.
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
Connors Mother and Grandmother gave him that 2 hander....I think because the racquet was heavy for him as a kid. I always found it amazing that you had 3 2 handers at the top of the game during the 70's/early 80's. Every guy wanted to hit the 2 hander like Bjorn or Jimmy....every gal wanted the precision of Evert. None of them started out as S&V players, which was the dominant style on grass. Bjorn had a very good serve too. But, Mac and Martina (and BJK) mixed things up a bit and made for exciting contrasts in playing style. That's what's lacking these days...very little contrast in play. Just a lot of banging it back and forth. Fed does work some magic, however, which always makes his matches more interesting.
 

BTURNER

Legend
I know the story on Evert. Like many young girls the racket was just too heavy when Chris started, and Jimmy Evert was fine with it for awhile, just to get her playing and enjoying. But when she got older, he insisted on the one hander, which she dutifully learned and hit, until he was out of eyesight, then back to her habitual doublehanders she went, eventually Dad kind of gave up, and then this petite little thing began to win and win over girls much taller and stronger. I will quote him. ' I just could not argue against success...."

Maybe the answer is in the age of these kids when they started to play. Is it possible kids were allowed and encouraged to play tennis rather than wait a few years and build themselves up on other sporting activities like soccor or baseball, or just playing handball or hotch scotch on the playground? What it seen as wiser not to have little kids swinging those rackets hour after hour in the fifties or earlier as some myth of a bygone age?
 
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DMP

Professional
I think the question is why did Jimmy Evert 'kind of give up' and let her go her own way? Same with Borg. After all it must be a story as old as time with those old tennis rackets. And yet something had changed which allowed the youngsters to continue, unlike in the past.

As I say, I suspect the answer is that in the 50s the father/coach's word was law, and they insisted that the pupils stuck to the tried and tested. By the 60s that had started to change, for a variety of reasons, and so the time was right for that small group of contrarian great players to be allowed to emerge.
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
Speaking of 2 handers, I'm sure most of you know that Sampras hit a 2 handed backhand as a teen? He was re-trained to hit a one hander. Would be curious to see if anyone has clips/photos of him w/the 2 hander. I recall seeing him mentioned in an article as an up and coming teen sensation w/a 2 hander to rival Connors'
 

DMan

Professional
I think the question is why did Jimmy Evert 'kind of give up' and let her go her own way? Same with Borg. After all it must be a story as old as time with those old tennis rackets. And yet something had changed which allowed the youngsters to continue, unlike in the past.

As I say, I suspect the answer is that in the 50s the father/coach's word was law, and they insisted that the pupils stuck to the tried and tested. By the 60s that had started to change, for a variety of reasons, and so the time was right for that small group of contrarian great players to be allowed to emerge.
I don't believe Jimmy Evert had any say in the matter. Borg's parents weren't involved in coaching Bjorn.

There are unique, individual circumstances which led Chris, Bjorn, and Jimmy to use two hands. Nothing in the water, in their neighborhoods, politics of the day, or whether Mercury was in retrograde when they started to play tennis. Something simpler: racquet was easier to hold, swing, and control with 2 hands, they wanted to do it that way, became successful early.....and that's how it happened!
 
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magnut

Hall of Fame
Speaking of 2 handers, I'm sure most of you know that Sampras hit a 2 handed backhand as a teen? He was re-trained to hit a one hander. Would be curious to see if anyone has clips/photos of him w/the 2 hander. I recall seeing him mentioned in an article as an up and coming teen sensation w/a 2 hander to rival Connors'
Edberg had a two hander as well before developing the greatest one handed backhand of all time.

Conners backhand doesnt count. I dont know of any other player who shoveled groundstrokes like Jimmy.

I always looked at Wayne Ferriera as the original Sampras.
 

DMP

Professional
I don't believe Jimmy Evert had any say in the matter. Borg's parents weren't involved in coaching Bjorn.

There are unique, individual circumstances which led Chris, Bjorn, and Jimmy to use two hands. Nothing in the water, in their neighborhoods, politics of the day, or whether Mercury was in retrograde when they started to play tennis. Something simpler: racquet was easier to hold, swing, and control with 2 hands, they wanted to do it that way, became successful early.....and that's how it happened!
Yes, but that was also true in the 20s, 30s and 50s, yet only a very few two-handers emerged like Bromwich, Segura, McMillan. In general it was always easier to hold, swing, control with 2 hands, yet the best players were steered away from that style. So either it was just a coincidence that Connore/Evert/Borg happened at the same time, or as I postulate there was something in the air to encourage the coach/player to persevere with the two-hander.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Edberg had a two hander as well before developing the greatest one handed backhand of all time.

Conners backhand doesnt count. I dont know of any other player who shoveled groundstrokes like Jimmy.

I always looked at Wayne Ferriera as the original Sampras.
Connors backhand doesn't count? WTH does that mean?
 
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magnut

Hall of Fame
Connors backhand doesn't count? WTH does that mean?
his backhand is ao unorthodox jimmy has his own category. The conners backhand has more in common with the rosewall slice than it does your typical two handed backhand.

Personally I put it as one of the all time great tennis shots period. Right up there with the sampras serve and edberg backhand. those are more typical though.
 
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BTURNER

Legend
his backhand is ao unorthodox jimmy has his own category. The conners backhand has more in common with the rosewall slice than it does your typical two handed backhand.

Personally I put it as one of the all time great tennis shots period. Right up there with the sampras serve and edberg backhand. those are more typical though.
One of the conclusions I have already drawn was that there was no such thing as a 'typical two handed backhand' when Jimmy came along. That whole notion came along a generation later when the sample size was a little larger than Jimmy, Chrissie and Borg. All three hit them differently. It would not be until the next generation that a 'typical' backhand might emergeand it was closer to Chrissie's than the other two. Borg took that left hand off virtually on impact, making it almost a one hander, and as you said Jimmy's was not copied. I suspect it required such impeccable timing to execute, that lesser mortals made too many errors. Evert's was a very simple, almost stupid proof stroke. Its a very coachable stroke.
 
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magnut

Hall of Fame
One of the conclusions I have already drawn was that there was no such thing as a 'typical two handed backhand' when Jimmy came along. That whole notion came along a generation later when the sample size was a little larger than Jimmy, Chrissie and Borg. All three hit them differently. It would not be until the next generation that a 'typical' backhand might emergeand it was closer to Chrissie's than the other two. Borg took that left hand off virtually on impact, making it almost a one hander, and as you said Jimmy's was not copied. I suspect it required such impeccable timing to execute, that lesser mortals made too many errors. Evert's was a very simple, almost stupid proof stroke.
Jimmy basically has a power drive slice...of both sides. Like I said.... rosewall. It basically would have to go into an aggressive slice category for which there is not a whole lot.

Borgs two hander is deffinitly a bit strange. I actually think his game is mechanically kind of ugly....groundies, serve, volleys etc.. His movement is beautiful though. Youzny and Beurasitegue (spelling?) had that same two hander release. Youzny actually fixed it after a while.

Chrisy is just nice to look at. Pretty lady...pretty strokes.

Lots of great two handers though in histoy though....Its kind of hard to screw up as long as you move well.
 

Rui Lopes

Rookie
Edberg had a two hander as well before developing the greatest one handed backhand of all time.

Conners backhand doesnt count. I dont know of any other player who shoveled groundstrokes like Jimmy.

I always looked at Wayne Ferriera as the original Sampras.
True,
Edberg changed to OHBH at the age of 15. How someone with so little time develops one of the best backhands of all time , and at the age of 17 already as won all the 4 Grand Slams as a junior it´s simply amazing. He needed only two hears , hitting with one hand , for all that.
Also being the most spectacular player to watch on a tennis court , no wonder why he is my Idol...
 
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Rui Lopes

Rookie
Jimmy basically has a power drive slice...of both sides. Like I said.... rosewall. It basically would have to go into an aggressive slice category for which there is not a whole lot.

Borgs two hander is deffinitly a bit strange. I actually think his game is mechanically kind of ugly....groundies, serve, volleys etc.. His movement is beautiful though. Youzny and Beurasitegue (spelling?) had that same two hander release. Youzny actually fixed it after a while.

Chrisy is just nice to look at. Pretty lady...pretty strokes.

Lots of great two handers though in histoy though....Its kind of hard to screw up as long as you move well.
Yep,
As long as you move great and get to the ball really fast , you have a lot of diferent options on how to hit a ball , even if there´s something odd with your technique...
 
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magnut

Hall of Fame
True,
Edberg changed to OHBH at the age of 15. How someone with so little time develops one of the best backhands of all time , and at the age of 17 already as won all the 4 Grand Slams as a junior it´s simply amazing. He needed only two hears , hitting with one hand , for all that.
Also being the most spectacular player to watch on a tennis court , no wonder why he is my Idol...
Yeah... I dont really buy that. He probably could do both and commited to the one hander. I mean.... a two hander suddenly has the all time perfect backhand...perfect backhand slice....greatest backhand volley..... and wonderful return....in two years? I dont think so. Not even for a supreme athlete like Edberg (best movement and balance in tennis history IMO). He was poetry in motion. Still looks pretty dang good today.

Good idol BTW. Edberg makes most other players look like frantic hacks on the court. Sampras looked clumsy when he played Edberg.
 
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DMP

Professional
True,
Edberg changed to OHBH at the age of 15. How someone with so little time develops one of the best backhands of all time , and at the age of 17 already as won all the 4 Grand Slams as a junior it´s simply amazing. He needed only two hears , hitting with one hand , for all that.
Also being the most spectacular player to watch on a tennis court , no wonder why he is my Idol...
The coach at my club used to have a two-handed backhand all through his junior years. When he went for his advanced coaching badges he was failing on one exercise involving his backhand, so he went and practiced with a OHBH for two hours solid, and then retook the exercise and passed. Since then he has stuck with the OHBH.

I am not saying he was as good as Edberg, but he is a pretty good player obviously. The fact that he could transition so quickly suggests that going from two-handed to one-handed may be a sort of 'natural' transition.

I am trying to go the other way at the age of 72 and I can tell you it is bloody hard going!
 
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J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
The coach at my club used to have a two-handed backhand all through his junior years. When he went for his advanced coaching badges he was failing on one exercise involving his backhand, so he went and practiced with a OHBH for two hours solid, and then retook the exercise and passed. Since then he has stuck with the OHBH.

I am not saying he was as good as Edberg, but he is a pretty good player obviously. The fact that he could transition so quickly suggests that going from two-handed to one-handed may be a sort of 'natural' transition.

I am trying to go the other way at the age of 72 and I can tell you it is bloody hard going!
Most two handers can hit a one hander, most one handers are awkward hitting two handers, most coaches can hit both.

J
 

Rui Lopes

Rookie
Yeah... I dont really buy that. He probably could do both and commited to the one hander. I mean.... a two hander suddenly has the all time perfect backhand...perfect backhand slice....greatest backhand volley..... and wonderful return....in two years? I dont think so. Not even for a supreme athlete like Edberg (best movement and balance in tennis history IMO). He was poetry in motion. Still looks pretty dang good today.

Good idol BTW. Edberg makes most other players look like frantic hacks on the court. Sampras looked clumsy when he played Edberg.
Yep, Edberg outclassed everyone without exception. Of course his game style was always high risk , and any day that he was a little of , his results would suffer.
i couldn´t believe myself when i found out that he only started with the single handed backhand at the age of 15. The information i´ve found really says that , since him like Wilander , were trying to follow Borg in his style , but Edberg didn´t like to stay back , so he changed everything to be as more offensive as he could be...it´s crasy just to think of that...Only two years of practice and BOOMMMMM...
 

Rui Lopes

Rookie
The coach at my club used to have a two-handed backhand all through his junior years. When he went for his advanced coaching badges he was failing on one exercise involving his backhand, so he went and practiced with a OHBH for two hours solid, and then retook the exercise and passed. Since then he has stuck with the OHBH.

I am not saying he was as good as Edberg, but he is a pretty good player obviously. The fact that he could transition so quickly suggests that going from two-handed to one-handed may be a sort of 'natural' transition.

I am trying to go the other way at the age of 72 and I can tell you it is bloody hard going!
No, there is nothing natural about that transition , but there is always some people that can do some real difficult stuff… I think you have to be one of those special people to come up with that so easly...
 

Rui Lopes

Rookie
Most two handers can hit a one hander, most one handers are awkward hitting two handers, most coaches can hit both.

J
Ok, but we are not talking about being capable of doing it , we are talking about one of the best backhands in history. It´s a all other level. How Edberg did it , i just can´t figure it out...
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Ok, but we are not talking about being capable of doing it , we are talking about one of the best backhands in history. It´s a all other level. How Edberg did it , i just can´t figure it out...
Understand completely.

Did you read Pete's book? He said he kept practicing and practicing and he had know idea what his coach actually wanted him to do but one day out of nowhere he could just serve, and he didn't know how he did it, it just happened.

J
 
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Rui Lopes

Rookie
Understand completely.

Did you read Pete's book? He said he kept practicing and practicing and he had know idea what his coach actually wanted him to do but one day out of nowhere he could just serve, and he didn't know how he did it, it just happened.

J
There is no doubt that in order to achieve such greatness in a particular shot , it probably as to do more with some kind of magic or supernatural thing than just training...
Edberg backhand , Sampras serve , Nadal topspin , and some more others , really can´t be teached or learned. it´s something magical that only the special ones get without explanation...
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
There is no doubt that in order to achieve such greatness in a particular shot , it probably as to do more with some kind of magic or supernatural thing than just training...
Edberg backhand , Sampras serve , Nadal topspin , and some more others , really can´t be teached or learned. it´s something magical that only the special ones get without explanation...
I don't disagree entirely, but I think we can create an environment for it to happen if it's in there somewhere.

A seed won't grow on the sidewalk, but if we give it soil, sun, and water it may.

Some trees will grow taller than others regardless, but it is on us to create the environment for them to emerge.

Sorry if I'm a bit philosophical today, I am descending into madness in quarantine.

J
 

Rui Lopes

Rookie
I don't disagree entirely, but I think we can create an environment for it to happen if it's in there somewhere.

A seed won't grow on the sidewalk, but if we give it soil, sun, and water it may.

Some trees will grow taller than others regardless, but it is on us to create the environment for them to emerge.

Sorry if I'm a bit philosophical today, I am descending into madness in quarantine.

J
I agree completely...
No great talent is able to come out without proper and super hard work. If someone thinks that this guys are just filled with talent , and just go for some jogging sometimes , they don´t get the picture...
Super hard workers , that always push themselves to the limit , and somewhere down the road they found out that super special stuff that they figured out how to put it to work at 100%.
let´s not forgett , all those millions of rich kids , that had the chance to go to the best tennis academy´s to practice , and still they suck , or just can´t make it for real...
Without that special magic that was born with some , no greatness will be achieved , but yes , without proper guidance , many special talents might get wasted...
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
Jimmy basically has a power drive slice...of both sides. Like I said.... rosewall. It basically would have to go into an aggressive slice category for which there is not a whole lot.

Borgs two hander is deffinitly a bit strange. I actually think his game is mechanically kind of ugly....groundies, serve, volleys etc.. His movement is beautiful though. Youzny and Beurasitegue (spelling?) had that same two hander release. Youzny actually fixed it after a while.

Chrisy is just nice to look at. Pretty lady...pretty strokes.

Lots of great two handers though in histoy though....Its kind of hard to screw up as long as you move well.
Power drive slice? No...he could slice it if he wanted to...even hit with sidespin (like Evert). But he typically was hitting flat or over the ball. His net clearance was more than most viewers (and commentators) realized. It's been studied before. As noted, there was a lot of variety in 2 handers for some time, into the 80's, I"d say. Then everyone's instructor would try to get you to hit like Agassi (been there, done that, not happening!)

Borg's 2 hander was compared to someone swinging a hockey stick....I didn't quite see it, but.....

Evert's backhand..pretty? Concise, clean, deadly. 1985 FO, final point says it all....
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Ok, but we are not talking about being capable of doing it , we are talking about one of the best backhands in history. It´s a all other level. How Edberg did it , i just can´t figure it out...
Many two handers can hit with one hand (I learned it as well), but I think it's harder to generate the power (at least for some of us). I always felt more challenged to get the timing on the 1 handed drive right than I ever did with the 2- hander. So, I just used 1 hander to hit slice, much like Wilander did. Which was a nice shot to have in the arsenal...Mats did well with it on grass. Edberg's backhand was a beauty....did not recall him starting with a 2 hander.
 

DMan

Professional
Yes, but that was also true in the 20s, 30s and 50s, yet only a very few two-handers emerged like Bromwich, Segura, McMillan. In general it was always easier to hold, swing, control with 2 hands, yet the best players were steered away from that style. So either it was just a coincidence that Connore/Evert/Borg happened at the same time, or as I postulate there was something in the air to encourage the coach/player to persevere with the two-hander
Think of it this way. Today, nearly all the top players - men and women - use two hands on backhand side. There are the exceptions. Federer (an exception and a class unto himself - but I digress), Wawrinka, Thiem, and....are there any others? If you just discovered tennis today, and saw that 98.5% of the players were using two hands on the backhand side, you would think it is strange, unconventional, perhaps unwise to use only one hand.
Similarly, in the pre-Jimmy,Chrissie,Bjorn era, the vast majority, I'll say 98.5% of the players used one hand on the backhand. A two hander might seems....strange, unconventional, perhaps unwise. Until you try it, and discover with good hand/eye coordination, anticipation, quick feet, and determination, it could be a key to greatness.

Jimmy, Chris, Bjorn were not revolutionaries. They didn't set out to change the game. They just did. Their early coaches were not revolutionaries. If anything, what was similar about the 3 players and their coaches was that they were so singular minded that they didn't know or pay attention to what others were saying about their two hands on the backhand. Their eyes and focus were on the ball, and the prize for winning. For which there were many!!!
 

DMP

Professional
Think of it this way. Today, nearly all the top players - men and women - use two hands on backhand side. There are the exceptions. Federer (an exception and a class unto himself - but I digress), Wawrinka, Thiem, and....are there any others? If you just discovered tennis today, and saw that 98.5% of the players were using two hands on the backhand side, you would think it is strange, unconventional, perhaps unwise to use only one hand.
Similarly, in the pre-Jimmy,Chrissie,Bjorn era, the vast majority, I'll say 98.5% of the players used one hand on the backhand. A two hander might seems....strange, unconventional, perhaps unwise. Until you try it, and discover with good hand/eye coordination, anticipation, quick feet, and determination, it could be a key to greatness.

Jimmy, Chris, Bjorn were not revolutionaries. They didn't set out to change the game. They just did. Their early coaches were not revolutionaries. If anything, what was similar about the 3 players and their coaches was that they were so singular minded that they didn't know or pay attention to what others were saying about their two hands on the backhand. Their eyes and focus were on the ball, and the prize for winning. For which there were many!!!
Of course. But why then? Why not ten years earlier? Or ten years later? Coincidence, or something else?
 

BTURNER

Legend
Power drive slice? No...he could slice it if he wanted to...even hit with sidespin (like Evert). But he typically was hitting flat or over the ball. His net clearance was more than most viewers (and commentators) realized. It's been studied before. As noted, there was a lot of variety in 2 handers for some time, into the 80's, I"d say. Then everyone's instructor would try to get you to hit like Agassi (been there, done that, not happening!)

Borg's 2 hander was compared to someone swinging a hockey stick....I didn't quite see it, but.....

Evert's backhand..pretty? Concise, clean, deadly. 1985 FO, final point says it all....
His net clearance seemed to depend on how far back he was. If he wasn't trying to be offensive but just going deep, there was moderate spin that did not appear much different from the norm. When he was at or inside that baseline driving offensively or passing, it seemed razor thin, just like the forehand. Connors had more variety off that two-hander than anyone I ever saw, from the ground ( every spin to any part of the court) to the overhead, to the volley or the half volley, all hit with two hands. In my opinion he had more than even Chris, or at least he used that variety more often than Chris did.

Typically for Chris, creativity/ variety was saved when a need for it came, and not much before. One could go quite awhile and not see much variety at all in her shots, but bring her a challenge, a tight match and an opponent where she dare not play steady eddy, and shots she must have practiced long before and volleys we never saw outside a doubles court, came out, only to retreat in obscurity.

Question for you. Did he ever get a heavy/ excessive topspin shot off that wing, designed to bounce up high over the comfort zone and push you back, similar to a Borg or a Muster? I have seen him throw in some loopers, as a mix-up. but not with all that topspin, and never with any consistency. It took Evert until 1986 before I saw her exploit one consistently at RG. It was a very nice addition.
 
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PDJ

G.O.A.T.
His net clearance seemed to depend on how far back he was. If he wasn't trying to be offensive but just going deep, there was moderate spin that did not appear much different from the norm. When he was at or inside that baseline driving offensively or passing, it seemed razor thin, just like the forehand. Connors had more variety off that two-hander than anyone I ever saw, from the ground ( every spin to any part of the court) to the overhead, to the volley or the half volley, all hit with two hands. In my opinion he had more than even Chris, or at least he used that variety more often than Chris did.

Typically for Chris, creativity/ variety was saved when a need for it came, and not much before. One could go quite awhile and not see much variety at all in her shots, but bring her a challenge, a tight match and an opponent where she dare not play steady eddy, and shots she must have practiced long before and volleys we never saw outside a doubles court, came out, only to retreat in obscurity.

Question for you. Did he ever get a heavy/ excessive topspin shot off that wing, designed to bounce up high over the comfort zone and push you back, similar to a Borg or a Muster? I have seen him throw in some loopers, as a mix-up. but not with all that topspin, and never with any consistency. It took Evert until 1986 before I saw her exploit one consistently at RG. It was a very nice addition.
I think, with hindsight, that the switch from wood to graphite for Evert changed some of her shots/options. Also, her then husband and Dennis Ralston encouraged her to perfect the top spin as a weapon against her chief rival - mid 80s- to keep Navratilova pinned behind the baseline.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
His net clearance seemed to depend on how far back he was. If he wasn't trying to be offensive but just going deep, there was moderate spin that did not appear much different from the norm. When he was at or inside that baseline driving offensively or passing, it seemed razor thin, just like the forehand. Connors had more variety off that two-hander than anyone I ever saw, from the ground ( every spin to any part of the court) to the overhead, to the volley or the half volley, all hit with two hands. In my opinion he had more than even Chris, or at least he used that variety more often than Chris did.

Typically for Chris, creativity/ variety was saved when a need for it came, and not much before. One could go quite awhile and not see much variety at all in her shots, but bring her a challenge, a tight match and an opponent where she dare not play steady eddy, and shots she must have practiced long before and volleys we never saw outside a doubles court, came out, only to retreat in obscurity.

Question for you. Did he ever get a heavy/ excessive topspin shot off that wing, designed to bounce up high over the comfort zone and push you back, similar to a Borg or a Muster? I have seen him throw in some loopers, as a mix-up. but not with all that topspin, and never with any consistency. It took Evert until 1986 before I saw her exploit one consistently at RG. It was a very nice addition.
I don't recall seeing Connors hit heavy top, at least not in the matches I've seen. The loopers, yes. I noticed he would come over the ball a lot more on a mid court passing shot...as would Chris. If you want to see Chris hitting more top, then try and find one of her matches against Manuela Maleeva. I found them to be a cure for insomnia....
 

magnut

Hall of Fame
I don't recall seeing Connors hit heavy top, at least not in the matches I've seen. The loopers, yes. I noticed he would come over the ball a lot more on a mid court passing shot...as would Chris. If you want to see Chris hitting more top, then try and find one of her matches against Manuela Maleeva. I found them to be a cure for insomnia....
Connors basically sliced you to death with deep low balls until you gave him a sitter that he could attack. Thats a little oversimplification but its pretty true if you really watch his matches. He would not give opponents anything to work with. Low deep flat or underspin shots you had to hit up on. Thow in a short ball and he attacks it and put away the volley. Its a big reason why he was so effective at net. Everything he comes in on is a hard slice.

Your typical topspin backhand player is just working the ball around the court trying to force an error or get a passing shot. Conners was more of a killer and was looking to attack you. Very strange approach to the game. Today many would basically look at him as a hacker..... there is a lot to his game people really dont understand. Sounds crazy but in some ways he is very similar to Edberg. He has that same killer instinct once he moves forward.
 

BTURNER

Legend
I don't recall seeing Connors hit heavy top, at least not in the matches I've seen. The loopers, yes. I noticed he would come over the ball a lot more on a mid court passing shot...as would Chris. If you want to see Chris hitting more top, then try and find one of her matches against Manuela Maleeva. I found them to be a cure for insomnia....
Oh Evert used it a lot on clay from 1986-1988, but I did not see heavy topspin prior. Frankly I think she saw its benefit after Sabatini hit the scene, and wanted something similar strokewise to force players back behind the baseline. She used it against Navratilova in the 1986 final to good effect. With the modern racket, there was nothing stopping her except her grips.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Oh Evert used it a lot on clay from 1986-1988, but I did not see heavy topspin prior. Frankly I think she saw its benefit after Sabatini hit the scene, and wanted something similar strokewise to force players back behind the baseline. She used it against Navratilova in the 1986 final to good effect. With the modern racket, there was nothing stopping her except her grips.
HA! I was thinking about her matches against Sabatini as well...suddenly, Evert is hitting topspin. She did do that in the '86 match....she played that one so well down the stretch. Not the drama of '85, but maybe a better performance, actually.
 

BTURNER

Legend
HA! I was thinking about her matches against Sabatini as well...suddenly, Evert is hitting topspin. She did do that in the '86 match....she played that one so well down the stretch. Not the drama of '85, but maybe a better performance, actually.
I mean Heavy topspin. Evert's two-hander was a flattish stroke which normally had a hint of topspin all along. It increased a little gradually after she went graphite. But her default backhand really changed less than her forehand did ( why change perfection? It was the best in the sport, she pretty much hit the same flattish moderate topspin backhandjust harder and more accurately )

Her forehand tended to have a little underspin or a little top in the seventies. After she turned graphite it was one of the most improved parts of her game, in my opinion! She kept her underspin/sidespin shot as a mix-up and started to put a more and more pace and topspin into her previously flat forehand. She really developed that heavy topspin option for clay tennis and for her lobs. Believe it or not, a lot of her forehand lobs were mostly slice shots in the seventies! Still scary accurate, but she hit them with underspin on that wing.

I suspect you are right about the Sabatini influence over that development. Evert really disliked playing against that heavy topspin of Gabby's. It bounced up above her comfort zone and she did not really like having to hit early off the bounce over and over again to keep her court position. It would come in mighty handy on a high bouncing surface against Martina, though ! But for Chris, it was always going to be a special occasion shot. . She was never going to be a heavy topspin gal herself.
 
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DMan

Professional
I mean Heavy topspin. Evert's two-hander was a flattish stroke which normally had a hint of topspin all along. It increased a little gradually after she went graphite. But her default backhand really changed less than her forehand did ( why change perfection? It was the best in the sport, she pretty much hit the same flattish moderate topspin backhandjust harder and more accurately )

Her forehand tended to have a little underspin or a little top in the seventies. After she turned graphite it was one of the most improved parts of her game, in my opinion! She kept her underspin/sidespin shot as a mix-up and started to put a more and more pace and topspin into her previously flat forehand. She really developed that heavy topspin option for clay tennis and for her lobs. Believe it or not, a lot of her forehand lobs were mostly slice shots in the seventies! Still scary accurate, but she hit them with underspin on that wing.

I suspect you are right about the Sabatini influence over that development. Evert really disliked playing against that heavy topspin of Gabby's. It bounced up above her comfort zone and she did not really like having to hit early off the bounce over and over again to keep her court position. It would come in mighty handy on a high bouncing surface against Martina, though ! But for Chris, it was always going to be a special occasion shot. . She was never going to be a heavy topspin gal herself.
Topspin backhands usually come in handy when moonballing. While not exactly the same, if you are comfortable with moonballing you are going to have to be comfortable with topspin.

Chris Evert despised the moonball tactic. Yes, she would resort to it on occasion for a change of pace. But when Austin and Jaeger - particularly Jaeger in 1982 - employed moonballing against Chris they had success. Chris would also use moonballnig with topspin to counter, but she would also look to be the aggressor and take the rally out of moonballing as soon as she could.

I also believe graphite enabled her to get more oomph with a topspin backhand. And players like Temesvari, Maleeva (a moonball lover), Sabatini and many of the Chrissie clones forced Evert to further develop her lethal weapon of a two handed backhand.
 

DMan

Professional
Of course. But why then? Why not ten years earlier? Or ten years later? Coincidence, or something else?
Why then? Because it WAS when Connors, Evert, and Borg were born. That's why those 3 great 2 handed backhand players developed and emerged. It was the players THEMSELVES that made this happen. Not anything other than coincidence, or when their parents decided to birth those superstars! :p
 

DMP

Professional
Why then? Because it WAS when Connors, Evert, and Borg were born. That's why those 3 great 2 handed backhand players developed and emerged. It was the players THEMSELVES that made this happen. Not anything other than coincidence, or when their parents decided to birth those superstars! :p
But.... Hoad and Rosewall and Laver were also all born within four years of each other, and learned with wooden rackets, just like Connors, Evert and Borg.

Yet none of them was coached to play two-handed backhand.

So why did Connors/Evert/Borg but not Hoad/Rosewall/Laver?
 

BTURNER

Legend
Topspin backhands usually come in handy when moonballing. While not exactly the same, if you are comfortable with moonballing you are going to have to be comfortable with topspin.

Chris Evert despised the moonball tactic. Yes, she would resort to it on occasion for a change of pace. But when Austin and Jaeger - particularly Jaeger in 1982 - employed moonballing against Chris they had success. Chris would also use moonballnig with topspin to counter, but she would also look to be the aggressor and take the rally out of moonballing as soon as she could.

I also believe graphite enabled her to get more oomph with a topspin backhand. And players like Temesvari, Maleeva (a moonball lover), Sabatini and many of the Chrissie clones forced Evert to further develop her lethal weapon of a two handed backhand.
I agree with this. I also think she needed more of that ooophf off that forehand to compete , than that backhand, because of the threats induced by s/vollyers like Hana and Martina, Sukova, etc with those modern rackets and larger sweet spots attacking that wing! The passing shot is a confidence shot. You can't hit one well with doubt or uncertainty in your mind and that was the biggest difference between her passing shot off the forehand and off the backhand. She NEVER lost confidence that her backhand would go exactly where she wanted it, when she needed it badly to go there, but that forehand pass/return did not offer that same invincibility aura. That extra topspin off the forehand gave her sufficient control to add more pace, as well as some more acute angles on her forehand wing. It increased her confidence factor on forhand passes/ returns even on those biggest points.

The 'confidence' disparity seemed to shrink a little in the mid and late eighties with that extra spin and weight of shot on the forehand especially on the run.
 

DMan

Professional
But.... Hoad and Rosewall and Laver were also all born within four years of each other, and learned with wooden rackets, just like Connors, Evert and Borg.

Yet none of them was coached to play two-handed backhand.

So why did Connors/Evert/Borg but not Hoad/Rosewall/Laver?
Simple. Because Jimmy Connors isn't Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall (nearly 10 years Jimmy's senior), nor Rod Laver. Chris Evert isn't Lew, Rod, or Ken either! Individual players choose their own style. And, Connors, Borg, and Evert weren't exactly or specifically directed to use 2 handed backhands. For them, the shot developed naturally, due to unique circumstances with these players. The simplest solutions really do make sense!

One could ask a similar question of Federer, Wawrinka, or Justine Henin. Why didn't they just stick with the traditional method of two handed backhand like everybody else?
 

magnut

Hall of Fame
Simple. Because Jimmy Connors isn't Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall (nearly 10 years Jimmy's senior), nor Rod Laver. Chris Evert isn't Lew, Rod, or Ken either! Individual players choose their own style. And, Connors, Borg, and Evert weren't exactly or specifically directed to use 2 handed backhands. For them, the shot developed naturally, due to unique circumstances with these players. The simplest solutions really do make sense!

One could ask a similar question of Federer, Wawrinka, or Justine Henin. Why didn't they just stick with the traditional method of two handed backhand like everybody else?
Because one handed backhands are awesome and a well struck one hander is one of the coolest movements in sports. Its like a backhand b1tchslap.

Unless your Jimmy. Jimmys backhand literally looks like a lumberjack chopping a tree sometimes. Most other two handed backhands are kind of sissy looking. Couriers was neat. Looked like he was trying to break the ball.
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
I agree with this. I also think she needed more of that ooophf off that forehand to compete , than that backhand, because of the threats induced by s/vollyers like Hana and Martina, Sukova, etc with those modern rackets and larger sweet spots attacking that wing! The passing shot is a confidence shot. You can't hit one well with doubt or uncertainty in your mind and that was the biggest difference between her passing shot off the forehand and off the backhand. She NEVER lost confidence that her backhand would go exactly where she wanted it, when she needed it badly to go there, but that forehand pass/return did not offer that same invincibility aura. That extra topspin off the forehand gave her sufficient control to add more pace, as well as some more acute angles on her forehand wing. It increased her confidence factor on forhand passes/ returns even on those biggest points.

The 'confidence' disparity seemed to shrink a little in the mid and late eighties with that extra spin and weight of shot on the forehand especially on the run.
I absolutely agree with you about her backhand. Nowhere was this more evident than her Wimbledon QF against Golarsa: Seemingly down and out in her final Wimbledon she hit 3 backhand winners, with one of them possibly one of the best backhands ever hit at such a pressured moment.
From 2-5 down in the final set, Evert gives a near perfect masterclass on the backhand wing.
And.... I was there. :)

From 7mins25 for the 3 backhands mentioned above.

 

BTURNER

Legend
I absolutely agree with you about her backhand. Nowhere was this more evident than her Wimbledon QF against Golarsa: Seemingly down and out in her final Wimbledon she hit 3 backhand winners, with one of them possibly one of the best backhands ever hit at such a pressured moment.
From 2-5 down in the final set, Evert gives a near perfect masterclass on the backhand wing.
And.... I was there. :)

From 7mins25 for the 3 backhands mentioned above.

And then keep right on watching for the next three games. Repeatedly Golarsa sent traffic over there and she kept getting bitten through the end of the match! She either served over there or sent her volley/ approach into the backhand corner. Everything Chris hit off that wing went exactly where she aimed. I understand that the temptation is to reach for your own familiar strengths when points seem huge, and often that creates a pattern that picks at an opponent's backhand, secure that 65% or more of the time, that will be your opponents weaker side.

Well Evert is not among those 65% of the players! It was madness in retrospect. Eventually Evert's renewed confidence will seep into her forehand and volley and by that time, poor Laura was choking.

This was a masterclass in how NOT to play Chris Evert when you have her by the throat. How many matches in the nearly 19 years since Mary Anne Eisel did the same thing, have we seen this dynamic?

If you are serving and volleying and you have Chris playing flat and at her wits end, hit wide to the forehand then angle that drop volley way short, or approach deep down the center as much as possible, but stay the hell away from that shot!
 
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gopokes

Rookie
I think the rise of the junior tennis movement coicides with he development of two-handers. Many established pros in the 40's and 50's started tennis later in life (Riggs at 11 for example) and were probably better equipped to play the one-hander. Once you started to see 6-7 yr olds (or younger) playing tennis in a dedicated way with aspirations of being top players, the two hander was the only way to bring such a youngster along. Some made the switch later to the one, while many didn't. Today, it's a no-brainer for folks to start out with two, especially given the modern game which (over!)emphasizes groundstrokes.
 
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