Who has the greatest forehand in tennis history?

Make your choice

  • Nadal

    Votes: 59 28.6%
  • Federer

    Votes: 109 52.9%
  • Sampras

    Votes: 5 2.4%
  • Delpo

    Votes: 13 6.3%
  • Gonzalez

    Votes: 7 3.4%
  • Any other

    Votes: 13 6.3%

  • Total voters
    206

THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
What is the need for a poll if everyone is gonna come and either say Federer or Nadal ?
Such a snoozefest....these discussions on forehand normally only have 2 names
Agreed, and it confirms that anyone who does not think Sampras had a perfect, lethal forehand (IOW, one of the best in history, if not the best) never watched Sampras, and certainly did not see him play in person.
 

Razer

G.O.A.T.
Agreed, and it confirms that anyone who does not think Sampras had a perfect, lethal forehand (IOW, one of the best in history, if not the best) never watched Sampras, and certainly did not see him play in person.

Yeah, Sampras is right up there with Federer and Nadal in the forehand conversation, people limiting it to Fedal are probably too much drunk on recency bias.
 

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
No, it didn't suck at all - neither did his BH (if not his strength) but his running forehand was truly a thing of beauty...as is Rafa's.
I haven't seen tennis during Pete's era.

But I don't understand. If Pete had the most mental strength in his era, was a great athlete that everyone claims, and had best serve at his height and best forehand, how did he not win a single roland garros title?

I don't disagree that his forehand was amazing, I have always heard about his running fh.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I haven't seen tennis during Pete's era.

But I don't understand. If Pete had the most mental strength in his era, was a great athlete that everyone claims, and had best serve at his height and best forehand, how did he not win a single roland garros title?

I don't disagree that his forehand was amazing, I have always heard about his running fh.
because no one cares about clay.
 

BauerAlmeida

Hall of Fame
Overall, Federer. The best shot in tennis history. Power, spin, precision, angles, could go down the line or cross-court, inside-out, inside-in, etc.

Surface-specific, Nadal on clay. He didn't have an elite serve or return, and the backhand was very good but not special. He dominated a surface like no other ever did mostly because of his forehand and his movement.
 

The Guru

Legend
I’ve always thought the Nadal FH was the best I’ve ever seen the combination of consistency and offense is just ridiculous. He also does all the niche things well passes are GOAT level great FH drop mixing spins and angles versatile consistent and deadly.
 

The Guru

Legend
What about in 2011 when Djokovic (who doesn’t even have a top 5 FH all time) made a mockery of that shot by rushing his FH over and over?

Djokovic out-winnered Nadal off the forehand wing in every single match that season, even on clay.
Your reasoning in all of these posts is so unfair. Winners are just a horrible measure in the first place but even with that being said there’s no telling how those winners were set up just off of counting. Del Po out slugged Feds FH in 09 and 11 Novak from the baseline he was not we can all point to matches where Fed and Nadal were vested because their FH was not on.
 

Kralingen

Bionic Poster
Your reasoning in all of these posts is so unfair. Winners are just a horrible measure in the first place but even with that being said there’s no telling how those winners were set up just off of counting. Del Po out slugged Feds FH in 09 and 11 Novak from the baseline he was not we can all point to matches where Fed and Nadal were vested because their FH was not on.
What would be fair? A detailed video mashup of all the instances across 5000+ hours of matches where it can be shown how he was rushed off the FH wing?
 

RS

Bionic Poster
I often say Nadal can be rushed but by rushing him it often increases your chance of making errors.
 
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RS

Bionic Poster
The go to strategy is often to go into his forehand to rush him. Never the case with Fed.

/the end.
I stand by what I said though that it increases the chance of making errors. Both have different stronger and slightly weaker points were there FH's sure.
 
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The Blond Blur

G.O.A.T.
Tbf Nalby would go to Fed’s FH to then get to his BH. Once Fed’s BH improved this was harder to do ofc. And Delpo famously out dueled Fed FH to FH in the USO 09 F. He could be hurt when forced to run to his FH side.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
I often say Nadal can be rushed but by rushing him it often increases your chance of making errors.

This is correct. The actually strategy to dismantle Nadal is to attack the forehand, which then forces him to cough up short balls, and follow it up by hitting into the open court. Nadal is much more comfortable and stable defending on his backhand side, but he doesn't like his forehand being attacked. Once the play book on him came out, it was clear what the game plan was each time. For that reason alone, it cannot be the greatest forehand overall, since to beat him consistently you actually need to hit into it a lot.

Del Potro's forehand is the one shot you simply have no chance of winning against, you need to avoid it at all costs.
 

The Guru

Legend
What would be fair? A detailed video mashup of all the instances across 5000+ hours of matches where it can be shown how he was rushed off the FH wing?
Saying 2011 Djokovic broke him down therefore worse is just insanely reductionist and myopic. Also Novak often got the better of FH to FH exchanges with Fed in 2011 too so it doesn’t really mean anything anyway.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
Right it totally has nothing to do with Nadal having the most steady BH like ever that basically never leaks errors vs Fed having an infinitely more unsteady backhand. That has nothing do with it.
Nope. Even if Fed had a rock solid backhand like Ned it still wouldn't be the go to strategy to hit the forehand because he didn't leak short balls off that side under pressure.
 

malbaker86

Hall of Fame
It’s just a manifestation of the hidden weakness and downside of the Nadal forehand. Again there’s no doubting it’s an incredible shot like easily top 2 all time but it’s just not Federer’s FH, that’s all.

I hear you. No wrong answer. Any answer given has a case for it. Fed’s forehand at the USO from 03-09 was a CHEAT CODE
 

DSH

Talk Tennis Guru
Nadal's forehand was a very special shot.
It's a shame he didn't employ his forehand down the line much more consistently throughout his career.
He would have at least a couple more Major titles in his trophy case with that signature shot of his.
:(
 

The_Order

G.O.A.T.
Right it totally has nothing to do with Nadal having the most steady BH like ever that basically never leaks errors vs Fed having an infinitely more unsteady backhand. That has nothing do with it.

Fed's fh at his peak was def the most deadly... but it also has to do with who he was playing...

Once Nadal and Djok were able to defend it and turn that defence into offence, it would often draw errors from Fed's fh.

Lleyton could defend, but more often than not, his defensive shots were easily put away. Not the case with Nadal.

It really depends on what you prefer,

if you prefer higher peak with a sharper drop - Federer
if you prefer consistency and pure domination on clay/slower surfaces - Nadal

The poster you're referring to fails to mention that while players try that strategy, how many of them were actually consistently able to do it? You've got Djok then no one else really. Oh... and lets not forget Djok's got the best 2hb you're likely to ever see...

Federer's fh became an error machine at times and players would def attack that side. It's just like you said, his shbh was much more easily attackable hence the reason it was more targeted.
 

The_Order

G.O.A.T.
Nope. Even if Fed had a rock solid backhand like Ned it still wouldn't be the go to strategy to hit the forehand because he didn't leak short balls off that side under pressure.

Nah, instead he just leaked errors...

That's why people started calling him Fed-error... so much so, that word is filtered on here... I had to hyphenate it
 

Pheasant

Legend
I am taking McEnroe for the best forehand. If he wanted to, he could have slugged Lendl off of a slow clay court while exchanging forehand bombs all day long. But he didn’t want to make Lendl cry, so he didn’t bother with that strategy.
 

Razer

G.O.A.T.
because no one cares about clay.

True...

In the 90s most people never cared for Clay..... 1 wimbledon was more valuable than piling any number of french opens.

Clay became talked about after Rafael Nadal started piling slams and Federer so badly wanted to beat him there.
 

jackson vile

G.O.A.T.
I’m going with Nadal

His forehand is somehow simultaneously the ultimate defensive forehand, while still retaining a tremendous amount of offensive ability and power, which makes it seem like an offensive forehead instead of defensive all at the same time.

Also, I don’t think it’s possible for us to ever see this type of forehand ever again making it especially unique
 

socallefty

G.O.A.T.
I’m going with Nadal

His forehand is somehow simultaneously the ultimate defensive forehand, while still retaining a tremendous amount of offensive ability and power, which makes it seem like an offensive forehead instead of defensive all at the same time.

Also, I don’t think it’s possible for us to ever see this type of forehand ever again making it especially unique
Some food for thought from an ESPN article in 2021.


“In 17 previous meetings with Nadal before 2009 that were charted by Tennis Abstract, Nadal had hit 254 forehand winners to Djokovic's 221, and with 27% fewer errors. Beginning with this 2009 match in Paris, however, Djokovic flipped that completely around. In their next 30 charted matches through 2021, Djokovic hit 506 forehand winners to Nadal's 365, and with only 10% more errors.”

In my opinion, Nadal has a great FH for high-bouncing slow courts, but Djokovic has a more versatile FH where he can take the ball early, change angles better and be more offensive which is why you have FH stats (50% more winners, 10% more errors) like this in their head-head after 2009.

I would give the edge to Federer for having the best FH, but I think Djokovic’s FH is under-rated and Nadal’s is over-rated as an offensive weapon especially on lower-bouncing courts. Nadal doesn’t hit as close to the lines as Federer and Djokovic or on the rise from close to the baseline which is part of why there is this huge difference in FH winners. You don’t win 24, 22 or 20 Slams without a great FH that no one can exploit against you.
 
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jondice

Semi-Pro
Like everyone else, it's either Rafa or Fed. Not only were both shots insanely effective, they were also excited af to watch. Rafa's foreheads on the run quite literally could take your breath away and Fed would just pull out a scorcher seemingly out of nowhere.

Honorable mentions Delpo (duh) and Pete.
 
Yeah, Sampras is right up there with Federer and Nadal in the forehand conversation, people limiting it to Fedal are probably too much drunk on recency bias.
Pete gets usually underrated here. His 95 DC match against Kafelnikov, his 96 YEC final against Becker his 99 matches against Agassi. There are so many matches where he his forehand was clicking. Best running forehand in history.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Federer
Nadal
Lendl
Courier
Agassi
Borg
Sampras
Delpo
Gonzo
Moya

top 10 IMO in that order
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
I’ve always thought the Nadal FH was the best I’ve ever seen the combination of consistency and offense is just ridiculous. He also does all the niche things well passes are GOAT level great FH drop mixing spins and angles versatile consistent and deadly.
Epic and flashy
 

SonnyT

Legend
Federer's new FH with the bigger racquet was not the old FH, in that it lacked the power of the older one. But of course, the new racquet turned his game around, not just against Nadal, but just about against anyone else. Therefore, it showed that power was secondary to control.
 
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RS

Bionic Poster
Rafa’s forehand was routinely targeted as the shot to hit to on quicker surfaces for long periods of his career. Rushing him was very possible. There are numerous matches where hitting right to his forehand is the direct strategy that led to a victory.

Obviously he has the best slow court FH ever but I don’t think we can discount it being a liability in HC Slams from 2005-2008. Go watch some old tape like the Youzhny or Gonzalez matches, or of course Davydenko, or even AO 19 F… it’s not great.
Ok but we do have Fed in the 1999-2002/2003 years were he was similar in age to Nadal in 2005-2008 if we are to put importance to Nadal's HC losses in slams at the time.
 

NedStark

Professional
Federer
Nadal
Lendl
Courier
Agassi
Borg
Sampras
Delpo
Gonzo
Moya

top 10 IMO in that order
2003-2007 Federer, yes.
Later Federer with that pat-the-dog FH, no, not No.1 - everyone else in this list plus Djokovic had better FH mechanic than late Federer. He still succeeded despite that new FH because of his talent.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
2003-2007 Federer, yes.
Later Federer with that pat-the-dog FH, no.

this includes 2003-12 federer FH and 2017-onwards as well. even in 11, djokovic feared federer fh more than nadal fh looked like.
13/16 injury affected years don't factor in too much. a little bit down due to 14-15 FH yes.
 

NedStark

Professional
Federer, Nadal, Lendl, Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Borg, Del Potro, Gonzalez, Djokovic.

Yeah, Sampras is right up there with Federer and Nadal in the forehand conversation, people limiting it to Fedal are probably too much drunk on recency bias.
Because Sampras rarely hit inside-out FH.

But then they forget that Sampras is a net rusher even if he did not serve-and-volley all the time, and rushing the net after an inside-out FH has never been a good idea (I am calling Fed here).
 
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