Your Top 5 1-Handed Backhands of All Time

WYK

Hall of Fame
It's absurd to see Wawrinka so high on top of these lists. Yes it's a very effective shot but it requires a lot of time for him to set up, and it explains his relative lack of success on faster surfaces.

Whereas Fed had an excellent one-hander that he used to great effect against anyone not named Rafael Nadal. Wawrinka himself struggled against Fed in BH to BH exchanges, specially off of clay. And let's not forget how much more lopsided Wawrinka's H2H was against Nadal regardless of surface

Wawrinka's 3 grand slams and a gold medal tells us all we need to know about his backhand. 2 Wimbledon quarter finals and suddenly his backhand broke down?
Sure, anyone can make a quarter final at Wimby, I suppose...

I also find it funny that people think that a backhand breaking down against the greatest forehand of all time, and for all future time, means it's a bad backhand.
I got news for you, everyone's backhand AND forehand AND serve and game and lives buckled under Nadal's forehand in the ATP for decades.
Djokovic has lost to Rafa more than about anybody. Is his backhand junk then?
I mean, shall we ignore the fact these players are so badass they keep meeting in tournaments? All of which are the who's who of tournaments.
They aren't flailing their backhands to defeat in qualifying...
The fact Roger stood toe to toe for decades with Nadal and won 16 times tells us it was great. Did he under arm serve his way to those victories?
20 grand slam and 1250+ ATP victories tells us Federer had one of the greatest backhands in history.

Talk Tennis - always amazing how distant it can be from reality....
 

jm1980

Talk Tennis Guru
LOL, what is this rant?

Wawrinka's 3 grand slams and a gold medal tells us all we need to know about his backhand. 2 Wimbledon quarter finals and suddenly his backhand broke down?
Sure, anyone can make a quarter final at Wimby, I suppose...
I said he had a "relative lack of success on faster surfaces", not that he was complete junk

I also find it funny that people think that a backhand breaking down against the greatest forehand of all time, and for all future time, means it's a bad backhand.
I got news for you, everyone's backhand AND forehand AND serve and game and lives buckled under Nadal's forehand in the ATP for decades.
Hmmm... That's what I said? Fed's BH gets a bad rap because he struggled against Nadal at times, but everyone's backhands struggled against Nadal -- Wawrinka included, perhaps even more so
 

madhavan

New User
Wawrinka's 3 grand slams and a gold medal tells us all we need to know about his backhand. 2 Wimbledon quarter finals and suddenly his backhand broke down?
Sure, anyone can make a quarter final at Wimby, I suppose...

I also find it funny that people think that a backhand breaking down against the greatest forehand of all time, and for all future time, means it's a bad backhand.
I got news for you, everyone's backhand AND forehand AND serve and game and lives buckled under Nadal's forehand in the ATP for decades.
Djokovic has lost to Rafa more than about anybody. Is his backhand junk then?
I mean, shall we ignore the fact these players are so badass they keep meeting in tournaments? All of which are the who's who of tournaments.
They aren't flailing their backhands to defeat in qualifying...
The fact Roger stood toe to toe for decades with Nadal and won 16 times tells us it was great. Did he under arm serve his way to those victories?
20 grand slam and 1250+ ATP victories tells us Federer had one of the greatest backhands in history.

Talk Tennis - always amazing how distant it can be from reality....
Great post, fully agree!

muster in his prime, just refused to give up on that wing......stanimal, guga, edberg, muster and gasquet make my list......
yup, forgot about the original animal Muster. Also just remembered Petr Korda who had a wonderful bh.
 

Holmes

Hall of Fame
lol. Is there is rule where topspin is better and a slice in terms of ranking the skill of a shot? Not taking into account variety, drop shots and return? Graf hit topspin passing shots at will against opponents that came in on that side. And Fed is clearly on the list. He's destroyed some of the best backhands in the world going backhand to backhand in multiple matches and slam wins against Agassi, Murray, Nalbandian, Novak and Rafa. In the modern era, it's arguable that Fed has the best one handed backhand.
Dictating rallies against your opponent is going to be extremely difficult without a topspin backhand, particularly if they are able to get the shot into an uncomfortable area that makes your slice ineffective, the most famous case of which is of course Federer's failures against Nadal. Besides, how would you rank a backhand if the topspin was top 5 but the slice was barely competent?

Saying that Federer's backhand is clearly on the list because he "destroyed some of the best backhands in the world" is like saying Sampras's backhand is clearly on the list for the same reason. In reality, neither guy could even pray, let alone hope, to win a match against any great 2HBH let alone ATG 2HBHs by simply playing backhand to backhand with them in the traditional baseline point constructive style. Sampras beat Agassi going backhand to backhand on key points that he knew would swing the match in his favor and even within those points deliberately would go down the line with his 1HBH in order to tempt Agassi to hit to his running forehand to finish the point, or would use his running forehand to tempt Agassi to hit to his backhand and then win the point with a backhand crosscourt winner to the open court. In Federer's case, he would win important points for the same reason but rarely camped on his backhand and hit topspin throughout a lengthy backhand to backhand rally, and definitely didn't do this throughout an entire match. Instead he ran around his forehand and sliced, short sliced etc. in order to get around his terrible topspin 1HBH and use it in ways that would help rather than hurt his magnificent game. If you forced either player to go topspin to topspin with their backhand (when being hit to their backhand obv) with a player that had even an average 2HBH, life would be very difficult for them. Federer might even go slamless.
 

WYK

Hall of Fame
LOL, what is this rant?


I said he had a "relative lack of success on faster surfaces", not that he was complete junk


Hmmm... That's what I said? Fed's BH gets a bad rap because he struggled against Nadal at times, but everyone's backhands struggled against Nadal -- Wawrinka included, perhaps even more so

No rant. Just three chords and the truth :) No need to take(anything here) seriously, anyways.

I'll just leave this here:

 

Drob

Hall of Fame
The 1H bh is at least 75% of my motivation for watching/playing tennis, here's my take on the best from top players:

Budge (myself not super impressed by the video clips I've seen of it, seems like a very good shot, but not overwhelming; but all the old legends are unanimous in considering it fantastic and the greatest bh of those days, so who am I to disagree, hence including it here)
Rosewall - very consistent heavy penetrating drive-slice; smooth as silk and beautiful to watch
Laver - great on both topsin and slice, could blast winners out of the blue with his excellent technique (very modern) and powerful left arm!
Vilas - again great on both top/slice, but probably not as explosive as Laver
Arthur Ashe - mostly flat, maybe the cleanest most powerful & explosive 1hbh thru the 70s - his winners in YT clips are jaw dropping even by today's standards
Lendl - absolute bazooka on the topspin and hard/consistent on the slice. Super passing shots. But sometimes had a tough time returning Edberg's kick serve (he himself said he had a mental block about it for some time)
Becker - the ball was just gone like a thunderbolt. Maybe the best 1H topspin return I've seen, used to kill Edberg with that (to my dismay)
Edberg - my all time fave, all his shots on the bh side (return, topspin, slice, volley) are my absolute gold standard for the beauty and effectiveness of the one-hander. If there was only 1 tennis shot I had to watch on repeat my whole life, it would be either Edberg coiling, waiting and unleashing an absolutely beautiful rocket, or Edberg knifing a beautiful high slice or Edberg stepping in and killing a high bh volley crosscourt (just cannot decide among those!)
Kuerten - my 2nd fave, what an incredible shot, absolutely tragic that we missed years of this due to his injury
Federer - baffles me how folks claim it was a weak shot, it was absolutely superb - topspin, slice, return. Only Nadal/Djok could consistently draw errors from it and even then usually only after a long gruelling rally. There is no BH on this list that Nadal on clay would not have eventually overcome. Like Agassi said `with Federer, there is no place to go'.
Wawrinka - fantastic, what else needs to be said about it?

There are plenty of great 1hbhs from the excellent, but not elite, players - eg Leconte, Haas, Gasquet, Almagro, Thiem, Kolhscreiber, etc - I haven't included them because one metric of greatness is also how well the shot stands up under the ultimate pressure and these folks for whatever reason did not reach the last rounds of grand-slams often enough, so it's not fair to rank them alongside the above. (for eg. who knows if any of these guys could have hit the famous down-the-line pass that Fed hit matchpoint down in Wimb 08?)

Among top players also, there are others (eg. Hoad, Nastase, McEnroe, Stich, etc, etc) who also had great shots, but i think a bit below the above list.
Other legendary 1hbh folks like Manolo Santana I've only heard about and not seen.

excellent post
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
The 1H bh is at least 75% of my motivation for watching/playing tennis, here's my take on the best from top players:

Budge (myself not super impressed by the video clips I've seen of it, seems like a very good shot, but not overwhelming; but all the old legends are unanimous in considering it fantastic and the greatest bh of those days, so who am I to disagree, hence including it here)
Rosewall - very consistent heavy penetrating drive-slice; smooth as silk and beautiful to watch
Laver - great on both topsin and slice, could blast winners out of the blue with his excellent technique (very modern) and powerful left arm!
Vilas - again great on both top/slice, but probably not as explosive as Laver
Arthur Ashe - mostly flat, maybe the cleanest most powerful & explosive 1hbh thru the 70s - his winners in YT clips are jaw dropping even by today's standards
Lendl - absolute bazooka on the topspin and hard/consistent on the slice. Super passing shots. But sometimes had a tough time returning Edberg's kick serve (he himself said he had a mental block about it for some time)
Becker - the ball was just gone like a thunderbolt. Maybe the best 1H topspin return I've seen, used to kill Edberg with that (to my dismay)
Edberg - my all time fave, all his shots on the bh side (return, topspin, slice, volley) are my absolute gold standard for the beauty and effectiveness of the one-hander. If there was only 1 tennis shot I had to watch on repeat my whole life, it would be either Edberg coiling, waiting and unleashing an absolutely beautiful rocket, or Edberg knifing a beautiful high slice or Edberg stepping in and killing a high bh volley crosscourt (just cannot decide among those!)
Kuerten - my 2nd fave, what an incredible shot, absolutely tragic that we missed years of this due to his injury
Federer - baffles me how folks claim it was a weak shot, it was absolutely superb - topspin, slice, return. Only Nadal/Djok could consistently draw errors from it and even then usually only after a long gruelling rally. There is no BH on this list that Nadal on clay would not have eventually overcome. Like Agassi said `with Federer, there is no place to go'.
Wawrinka - fantastic, what else needs to be said about it?

There are plenty of great 1hbhs from the excellent, but not elite, players - eg Leconte, Haas, Gasquet, Almagro, Thiem, Kolhscreiber, etc - I haven't included them because one metric of greatness is also how well the shot stands up under the ultimate pressure and these folks for whatever reason did not reach the last rounds of grand-slams often enough, so it's not fair to rank them alongside the above. (for eg. who knows if any of these guys could have hit the famous down-the-line pass that Fed hit matchpoint down in Wimb 08?)

Among top players also, there are others (eg. Hoad, Nastase, McEnroe, Stich, etc, etc) who also had great shots, but i think a bit below the above list.
Other legendary 1hbh folks like Manolo Santana I've only heard about and not seen.

Enjoy
 

Vincent-C

Hall of Fame
The way he opens up the court with that backhand.

The 1H bh is at least 75% of my motivation for watching/playing tennis, here's my take on the best from top players:

Budge (myself not super impressed by the video clips I've seen of it, seems like a very good shot, but not overwhelming; but all the old legends are unanimous in considering it fantastic and the greatest bh of those days, so who am I to disagree, hence including it here)
Rosewall - very consistent heavy penetrating drive-slice; smooth as silk and beautiful to watch
Laver - great on both topsin and slice, could blast winners out of the blue with his excellent technique (very modern) and powerful left arm!
Vilas - again great on both top/slice, but probably not as explosive as Laver
Arthur Ashe - mostly flat, maybe the cleanest most powerful & explosive 1hbh thru the 70s - his winners in YT clips are jaw dropping even by today's standards
Lendl - absolute bazooka on the topspin and hard/consistent on the slice. Super passing shots. But sometimes had a tough time returning Edberg's kick serve (he himself said he had a mental block about it for some time)
Becker - the ball was just gone like a thunderbolt. Maybe the best 1H topspin return I've seen, used to kill Edberg with that (to my dismay)
Edberg - my all time fave, all his shots on the bh side (return, topspin, slice, volley) are my absolute gold standard for the beauty and effectiveness of the one-hander. If there was only 1 tennis shot I had to watch on repeat my whole life, it would be either Edberg coiling, waiting and unleashing an absolutely beautiful rocket, or Edberg knifing a beautiful high slice or Edberg stepping in and killing a high bh volley crosscourt (just cannot decide among those!)
Kuerten - my 2nd fave, what an incredible shot, absolutely tragic that we missed years of this due to his injury
Federer - baffles me how folks claim it was a weak shot, it was absolutely superb - topspin, slice, return. Only Nadal/Djok could consistently draw errors from it and even then usually only after a long gruelling rally. There is no BH on this list that Nadal on clay would not have eventually overcome. Like Agassi said `with Federer, there is no place to go'.
Wawrinka - fantastic, what else needs to be said about it?

There are plenty of great 1hbhs from the excellent, but not elite, players - eg Leconte, Haas, Gasquet, Almagro, Thiem, Kolhscreiber, etc - I haven't included them because one metric of greatness is also how well the shot stands up under the ultimate pressure and these folks for whatever reason did not reach the last rounds of grand-slams often enough, so it's not fair to rank them alongside the above. (for eg. who knows if any of these guys could have hit the famous down-the-line pass that Fed hit matchpoint down in Wimb 08?)

Among top players also, there are others (eg. Hoad, Nastase, McEnroe, Stich, etc, etc) who also had great shots, but i think a bit below the above list.
Other legendary 1hbh folks like Manolo Santana I've only heard about and not seen.
Great comment. Eddy's balance- topspin, slice; ability to create, handle, and diffuse power- put him at the top of my list.
 

Drob

Hall of Fame
You jokers may wanna rethink your sky-high placement of Wawrinka and Gasquet. I suggest you peruse my infallible dissertation on TA's so-called FH/BH potency but it works like this: 1 point for each winner and 0.5 for the shot before a winner, -1 for each UFE. And per this stat (I'm quoting only the BH portion):


Now I do think there's more to Stan's literally middling 0.1, as @Angrybirdstar astutely noted (in a PM):


So this stat is but one measure of a shot's "potency," as all stats are. But these qualifications don't explain Stan's own # cuz he's not the kind of player (at least compared to most slow-courters) who bides his time before uncorking his CC/DTL screamer.

Of course there's a chance his Slam average is considerably higher, but given his aggressive MO it's unlikely to be much better than Rick's 1.8. Not enough to seriously challenge Kuerten (2.1), Becker (2.7), Edberg (2.8), Stich (2.8), Lendl (3.0) and P. Korda (5.8!), and arguably less heralded guys like Leconte (not enough data, surprising for this old fan favorite) and Corretja (2.3) as well.

Speaking of who Guga didn't have such high shot tolerance himself, hence his own relatively low #. But then 25 or a whopping 61% of his 41 charted matches were on clay unlike the higher hard/grass distribution of most top guys - none of the above 1-handed studs' charts clear even 30% on dirt - which actually shows how impressive his 2.1 potency is to begin with. Now you know why I said you underrate that renowned BH at your peril.

And it's an absolute joke that none of you mugs have even mentioned Boris, Mike (except for @jersey34tennis) and Korda, not to mention old(er)-timers like Budge, Kovacs and Vilas who have gotten passing shout-outs at best. Shows the level of knowledge we're dealing with here.

Speaking of which:


This teenybopper seriously thinks his pin-up boy's BH is that better than Rod friggin' Laver's. JFC


Thiem does indeed somewhat better in the potency stat than Wawa, 0.8 vs. 0.1, but there are better candidates.

Hi NonP

Where are you getting the stats for this potency measure? How many matches are "statted" to have enough to confidently estimate a player's one-handed backhand potency?

@Angrybirdstar makes an excellent about the value of "prevention" or "neutral" backhands. But these would be very difficult to stat.
 
The 1H bh is at least 75% of my motivation for watching/playing tennis, here's my take on the best from top players:

Budge (myself not super impressed by the video clips I've seen of it, seems like a very good shot, but not overwhelming; but all the old legends are unanimous in considering it fantastic and the greatest bh of those days, so who am I to disagree, hence including it here)
Rosewall - very consistent heavy penetrating drive-slice; smooth as silk and beautiful to watch
Laver - great on both topsin and slice, could blast winners out of the blue with his excellent technique (very modern) and powerful left arm!
Vilas - again great on both top/slice, but probably not as explosive as Laver
Arthur Ashe - mostly flat, maybe the cleanest most powerful & explosive 1hbh thru the 70s - his winners in YT clips are jaw dropping even by today's standards
Lendl - absolute bazooka on the topspin and hard/consistent on the slice. Super passing shots. But sometimes had a tough time returning Edberg's kick serve (he himself said he had a mental block about it for some time)
Becker - the ball was just gone like a thunderbolt. Maybe the best 1H topspin return I've seen, used to kill Edberg with that (to my dismay)
Edberg - my all time fave, all his shots on the bh side (return, topspin, slice, volley) are my absolute gold standard for the beauty and effectiveness of the one-hander. If there was only 1 tennis shot I had to watch on repeat my whole life, it would be either Edberg coiling, waiting and unleashing an absolutely beautiful rocket, or Edberg knifing a beautiful high slice or Edberg stepping in and killing a high bh volley crosscourt (just cannot decide among those!)
Kuerten - my 2nd fave, what an incredible shot, absolutely tragic that we missed years of this due to his injury
Federer - baffles me how folks claim it was a weak shot, it was absolutely superb - topspin, slice, return. Only Nadal/Djok could consistently draw errors from it and even then usually only after a long gruelling rally. There is no BH on this list that Nadal on clay would not have eventually overcome. Like Agassi said `with Federer, there is no place to go'.
Wawrinka - fantastic, what else needs to be said about it?

There are plenty of great 1hbhs from the excellent, but not elite, players - eg Leconte, Haas, Gasquet, Almagro, Thiem, Kolhscreiber, etc - I haven't included them because one metric of greatness is also how well the shot stands up under the ultimate pressure and these folks for whatever reason did not reach the last rounds of grand-slams often enough, so it's not fair to rank them alongside the above. (for eg. who knows if any of these guys could have hit the famous down-the-line pass that Fed hit matchpoint down in Wimb 08?)

Among top players also, there are others (eg. Hoad, Nastase, McEnroe, Stich, etc, etc) who also had great shots, but i think a bit below the above list.
Other legendary 1hbh folks like Manolo Santana I've only heard about and not seen.
@Curious if you're looking for study material...
 

urban

Legend
I would add another Argentine player, Agustin Calleri. He was inconsistent, but when on song, he hit awesome backhand winners. On You tube is a video of his annihilation of Agassi at Miami 2004. Andre wasn't playing badly at all, but man, Calleri hammered him with winners all the way.

Best one hander i have seen, was Lavers. In a lot of dccumented matches on video, he had so many backhand winners, more than anyone i have seen, and sometimes more than on the forehand, where he hit so many winners too.. He could hit it straight with might, with dipping topspin or as severe hard slice. He could hit it stepping in on the return, or on the full run. He produced direct winners or could direct the point excange with it, creating great angles. In his prime, this backhand made the difference, even against players with excellent backhands themselves, as Rosewall, Roche or Ashe. Petre Korda hit the backhand a lot like Laver, as in some ways Leconte, a fellow lefthander. But Laver was faster and had more power in the arm and wrist.
 

NonP

Legend
Good to see Almagro get some love in this thread. No variety at all and he couldn't move, slice, or volley, but his pure topspin one handed backhand was extremely powerful and consistent. At his best, he was formidable, especially on clay courts. Another one I'd put up is Phillip Kholschreiber, beautiful shot.
Nico has a negative net winner-UFE "potency" ratio (-0.5) per TA, so not too consistent, apparently.

Good call on Kohls (0.7), though. Always liked the guy's all-around game.

Speaking of which:

It's absurd to see Wawrinka so high on top of these lists. Yes it's a very effective shot but it requires a lot of time for him to set up, and it explains his relative lack of success on faster surfaces.

Whereas Fed had an excellent one-hander that he used to great effect against anyone not named Rafael Nadal. Wawrinka himself struggled against Fed in BH to BH exchanges, specially off of clay. And let's not forget how much more lopsided Wawrinka's H2H was against Nadal regardless of surface
I'm with you on Stan's uber-hyped BH. I get that winners and UFEs ain't everything but you'd think any shot that gets nonstop GOAT shout-outs would do a little better than barely break even (0.3). Contrast that with Edberg's (2.9) and Kuerten's (2.1), two other perennial GBHOAT contenders whose statistical ratings are more in line with the hype. It sure seems that Stan needs more time to set up his admittedly powerful BH than those two.

By the same token, though, it's hard to place Fraud's BH in that elite company based on TA's ranking (0.1). Granted these ratings exclude slices (and returns) so it's a better shot than the numbers indicate, but in terms of pure topspin drive there have been at least dozens of more reliable BHs.

The 1H bh is at least 75% of my motivation for watching/playing tennis, here's my take on the best from top players:

Budge (myself not super impressed by the video clips I've seen of it, seems like a very good shot, but not overwhelming; but all the old legends are unanimous in considering it fantastic and the greatest bh of those days, so who am I to disagree, hence including it here)
Rosewall - very consistent heavy penetrating drive-slice; smooth as silk and beautiful to watch
Laver - great on both topsin and slice, could blast winners out of the blue with his excellent technique (very modern) and powerful left arm!
Vilas - again great on both top/slice, but probably not as explosive as Laver
Arthur Ashe - mostly flat, maybe the cleanest most powerful & explosive 1hbh thru the 70s - his winners in YT clips are jaw dropping even by today's standards
Lendl - absolute bazooka on the topspin and hard/consistent on the slice. Super passing shots. But sometimes had a tough time returning Edberg's kick serve (he himself said he had a mental block about it for some time)
Becker - the ball was just gone like a thunderbolt. Maybe the best 1H topspin return I've seen, used to kill Edberg with that (to my dismay)
Edberg - my all time fave, all his shots on the bh side (return, topspin, slice, volley) are my absolute gold standard for the beauty and effectiveness of the one-hander. If there was only 1 tennis shot I had to watch on repeat my whole life, it would be either Edberg coiling, waiting and unleashing an absolutely beautiful rocket, or Edberg knifing a beautiful high slice or Edberg stepping in and killing a high bh volley crosscourt (just cannot decide among those!)
Kuerten - my 2nd fave, what an incredible shot, absolutely tragic that we missed years of this due to his injury
Federer - baffles me how folks claim it was a weak shot, it was absolutely superb - topspin, slice, return. Only Nadal/Djok could consistently draw errors from it and even then usually only after a long gruelling rally. There is no BH on this list that Nadal on clay would not have eventually overcome. Like Agassi said `with Federer, there is no place to go'.
Wawrinka - fantastic, what else needs to be said about it?

There are plenty of great 1hbhs from the excellent, but not elite, players - eg Leconte, Haas, Gasquet, Almagro, Thiem, Kolhscreiber, etc - I haven't included them because one metric of greatness is also how well the shot stands up under the ultimate pressure and these folks for whatever reason did not reach the last rounds of grand-slams often enough, so it's not fair to rank them alongside the above. (for eg. who knows if any of these guys could have hit the famous down-the-line pass that Fed hit matchpoint down in Wimb 08?)

Among top players also, there are others (eg. Hoad, Nastase, McEnroe, Stich, etc, etc) who also had great shots, but i think a bit below the above list.
Other legendary 1hbh folks like Manolo Santana I've only heard about and not seen.
Good post except on Budge who, as you yourself noted, was the consensus pick for #1 all-time BH as late as the '70s. The few grainy clips we have can't begin to do justice to the old-timers and their renowned strokes.

My one beef is with your downgrading of Stich whose BH was relatively stronger than his FH, and TA's respective potency ratings (2.9 vs. 2.1) reinforce that impression. And how can you rave about Boris' BH return (not without reason, I should add) but neglect to mention Mike's own which none other than Jimbo declared his best stroke during the '91 Wimby F (I think), yes even over his serve? (For one thing both definitely handled Edberg's kicker better than Lendl.) If anything the Stich BH was the more versatile shot, if perhaps slightly less consistent than Becker's (2.7 but he's got 81 more matches charted).

some of my favorites(in no order)

Arazi
Pioline
Korda
Yzaga
Edberg
Kuerten
Laver
Mancini
Woodbridge
A. Costa
Gasquet
Wawrinka
Leconte
Clerc
Stich
Good ol' Data would dig this list, LOL.

LOVE the Arazi BH myself. With a little more size/power the wizard would've been a full-time top 10er.

Hi NonP

Where are you getting the stats for this potency measure? How many matches are "statted" to have enough to confidently estimate a player's one-handed backhand potency?

@Angrybirdstar makes an excellent about the value of "prevention" or "neutral" backhands. But these would be very difficult to stat.
You can sort by FH/100 or BH/100 here:


And here's the glossary but basically potency = winners - UFEs with the extra caveat that half winners (shots before each winner) also count as +0.5. And BH slices are excluded (but not FH slices, apparently).

Obviously bigger names have more matches charted (see the 2nd column) but every one on this list has at least 20 under his/her belt so a decent sample size nonetheless.

Also just remembered Petr Korda who had a wonderful bh.
Korda's was a good 'un (what timing)!
Best one hander i have seen, was Lavers. In a lot of dccumented matches on video, he had so many backhand winners, more than anyone i have seen, and sometimes more than on the forehand, where he hit so many winners too.. He could hit it straight with might, with dipping topspin or as severe hard slice. He could hit it stepping in on the return, or on the full run. He produced direct winners or could direct the point excange with it, creating great angles. In his prime, this backhand made the difference, even against players with excellent backhands themselves, as Rosewall, Roche or Ashe. Petre Korda hit the backhand a lot like Laver, as in some ways Leconte, a fellow lefthander. But Laver was faster and had more power in the arm and wrist.
P. Korda's 5.8 per TA's BH potency ratings may well be the most impressive of 'em all when you take into account Brown's expectedly lackluster opposition, Borg's era adjustment (more of his BH winners would come off his FH today) and Evan's "cheating" with his slice. Like most I was under the impression that Mr. Scissor Kick hit a little too flat to be among the most reliable hitters, but it does look like I overestimated his hot-and-cold-ness at least on that side.

BTW didn't Laver hit with more topspin than Korda in general? Normally I'd defer to older fans like @urban who actually saw the great man play, but I find it hard to believe that the supposed pioneer of "excessive topspin for dip shots to force an opponent to volley up" (as quoted from Vines' book the other day) was that similar to the flashy Czech in terms of spin if not style.
 

Vincent-C

Hall of Fame
Gasquet's BH was a nice shot, but he was looking to hit it, rather than primarily looking to win the point: "hey, I'm gonna hit a beautiful backhand now!" The opponent says "thank you very much for the message".
 

Holmes

Hall of Fame
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The most beautiful stroke in tennis history.
Mannis Wawrinka
 

a10best

Hall of Fame
Wawrinka - duhh
Thiem
Federer
Kuerten
Musetti
Dimitrov
Henin

slice 1hbh - Fed, Gasquet

--- it doesn't always have to be a slam winner. I'm not a fan of Gasquet's 1hbh.
 

Sipho

Rookie
Reading through this thread I think I have to agree with Mr. Holmes...

...I'm not sure why some of my fellow Fedfans continue to propounded the outrageous thought that Roger's topspin backhand was anything special, let alone historic...

I kind of agree.

Federer was incredible, obviously, but I always thought that his backhand was just merely very good.

And with the Nadal situation I'm assuming that was just stubbornness. "I don't have to change against anybody else in the world, so I'm not changing against him either." And of course he eventually decided to change and started beating him; something that he could have done years before.

Anyway, that tennis.com article that's been discounted by some has as their top-5:
  • No. 1: Roger Federer
  • No. 2: Justine Henin
  • No. 3: Stan Wawrinka
  • No. 4: Ken Rosewall
  • No. 5: Richard Gasquet
My list is the norm...

Stan
Thiem

And the rest of my list is just favorite players and not necessarily the best one-handed backhands ever, just my favorites...

Pete Sampras. He just basically kept it in, but hey, that counts.

Arthur Ashe. That tennis.com article had him in the top-10, and he inspired me to have a good one-handed backhand. Reading lots of books about him and the backhand often came up, so hey, I want to have a good backhand because Arthur Ashe had a good backhand.

“Ashe’s backhand is one of the touchstones of modern tennis,” John McPhee wrote in his 1969 book Levels of the Game. “He can underspin it, roll it, hit it flat. He can cradle the ball on his racquet, and hit it with several kinds of timing. He’s got it all.”

I remember well reading "Levels of the Game."

I don't remember watching this video from the tennis.com article, but I had Arthur Ashe's Head racquet (and I have watched some Arthur Ashe instructional videos, my coach had me do that; and Vic "Bach-hand" Braden)....


And I've read Tennis magazine articles that Ashe wrote on things like he talked about in that video, about the slice being your bread and butter shot and whatever.

Last is probably Edberg. He was also top-10 according to tennis.com. Anyway, once I Iearned how to hit a good kick serve... yeah, I'm fu*king Stefan Edberg now. I got a sweet kick serve. I'm going to get a sweet volley. And I almost have a sweet backhand. I'm almost there.

Ah... youth. :giggle:
 

vive le beau jeu !

Talk Tennis Guru
some of my favorite 1HBHs...

among slam winners:
federer
edberg
wawrinka
(becker's, lendl's and sampras'weren't bad either) ;)

among non-slam winners:
arazi
srichaphan
philippoussis
gasquet
shapovalov
musetti
 

The Sinner

Semi-Pro
From recent times:
- Wawrinka
- Federer
- Gasquet
- Kuerten
- Mussetti (still inconsistent, but it’s bound to get better).
 

Cabeza del Demonio

Professional
April Fools' isn't for another couple months
Federer's backhand is way underrated IMO! Yes, his inability to handle high balls from Nadal is now written into legend, but his strengths off that side are rarely mentioned anymore. Top-tier reaction time, easily the best returner ever to hit with one hand. Just have to look at the way he dismantled Roddick's serve (and so many other great servers) with that shot. Not to mention the insane angles & pick-ups he could come up with off the BH. And that's because he had such a simple, textbook stroke compared to the winding, full-body swings that most of the other GOAT contenders had.

Wawrinka and Thiem could only dream of that variety & reaction time.

Edit: Not even to mention his revamped 2017 backhand that finally ended Nadal's hold over him.
 

NedStark

Professional
Reading through this thread I think I have to agree with Mr. Holmes...



I kind of agree.

Federer was incredible, obviously, but I always thought that his backhand was just merely very good.

And with the Nadal situation I'm assuming that was just stubbornness. "I don't have to change against anybody else in the world, so I'm not changing against him either." And of course he eventually decided to change and started beating him; something that he could have done years before.

Anyway, that tennis.com article that's been discounted by some has as their top-5:
  • No. 1: Roger Federer
  • No. 2: Justine Henin
  • No. 3: Stan Wawrinka
  • No. 4: Ken Rosewall
  • No. 5: Richard Gasquet
My list is the norm...

Stan
Thiem

And the rest of my list is just favorite players and not necessarily the best one-handed backhands ever, just my favorites...

Pete Sampras. He just basically kept it in, but hey, that counts.

Arthur Ashe. That tennis.com article had him in the top-10, and he inspired me to have a good one-handed backhand. Reading lots of books about him and the backhand often came up, so hey, I want to have a good backhand because Arthur Ashe had a good backhand.



I remember well reading "Levels of the Game."

I don't remember watching this video from the tennis.com article, but I had Arthur Ashe's Head racquet (and I have watched some Arthur Ashe instructional videos, my coach had me do that; and Vic "Bach-hand" Braden)....


And I've read Tennis magazine articles that Ashe wrote on things like he talked about in that video, about the slice being your bread and butter shot and whatever.

Last is probably Edberg. He was also top-10 according to tennis.com. Anyway, once I Iearned how to hit a good kick serve... yeah, I'm fu*king Stefan Edberg now. I got a sweet kick serve. I'm going to get a sweet volley. And I almost have a sweet backhand. I'm almost there.

Ah... youth. :giggle:
I definitely rate Becker and Stich backhand above Sampras.
 

Olli Jokinen

Hall of Fame
I definitely rate Becker and Stich backhand above Sampras.
Totally. Sampras' backhand was no weapon while Stich, Becker, Edberg and Lendl could really do some damage. Honorable mention: Alberto Mancini. That was good. A shame with all the injuries. Kuerten's backhand is maybe the most impressive. Miles better than Gasquet's too.
 

NedStark

Professional
It broke down a lot. But great when it was on. Did some real damage to Edberg's serves.
Becker is someone who basically never had any problems with high backhands, at all.

And he also had a complete package on the BH side: slice (hey, the iconic German drive slice), pass, return, topspin, even dropshot (which he occasionally used as an approach shot rather than for outright winners).

One could argue that Boris’ hard drive slice is a superior shot than Fed’s chop slice.
 

Olli Jokinen

Hall of Fame
Becker is someone who basically never had any problems with high backhands, at all.

And he also had a complete package on the BH side: slice (hey, the iconic German drive slice), pass, return, topspin, even dropshot (which he occasionally used as an approach shot rather than for outright winners).

One could argue that Boris’ hard drive slice is a superior shot than Fed’s chop slice.
I think his backhand block on the return was the most impressive shot. Lots of wrist strength. But as a rally shot his backhand was often quite unreliable. Overall, I'd prefer Edberg's or Lendl's anytime.
 

Rovesciarete

Hall of Fame
I find it just curious that so few seem to remember the Becker backhand. His forehand was compared to the field arguably the weaker wing.
 

a10best

Hall of Fame
I can't find the video but the 1hbh has evolved so much we now have an open stance sliding 1 hbh by Thiem.
I really wish he could've returned back to his great form.
 

NedStark

Professional
I think his backhand block on the return was the most impressive shot. Lots of wrist strength. But as a rally shot his backhand was often quite unreliable. Overall, I'd prefer Edberg's or Lendl's anytime.
IMO Lendl BH is closer to Pete than Becker/Edberg in that other than the passing shots, it is a tool to set up his shots for the forehand rather than to dictate/end points. Plus, Lendl does struggle with his BH return.

Becker BH being more inconsistent is also due to his more aggressive shot selection.
 

NedStark

Professional
Thiem is missing from WAY too many lists.
Totally. Sampras' backhand was no weapon while Stich, Becker, Edberg and Lendl could really do some damage. Honorable mention: Alberto Mancini. That was good. A shame with all the injuries. Kuerten's backhand is maybe the most impressive. Miles better than Gasquet's too.
The problem with Thiem/Wawrinka/Gasquet BH or claycourt BHs like Kuerten is that these guys have to stay several feets behind the baseline to hit their BHs.

Edberg, Stich and Becker all had straight-arm BH mechanic which allows for more stability and power, and at the same time had rather compact swing and standard Eastern BH grip which allow them to stay close to the baseline and play on fast courts.
 
Guga and Goatwrinka for me. Goatwrinka wasn’t as good on the backhand side on faster courts, and I know people ding him for that. For me that shot on modern slower hardcourt and clay is just otherworldly.

I love Vilas and Laver’s backhands….. Vilas had so much shape and control on his backhand, and Laver ripping backhands was way ahead of his time imo.
 

Holmes

Hall of Fame
How can anyone seriously put a WTA backhand over an ATP one? Absolutely insane. Would love to see Henin try and play just one return game against an ATP or college guy with that shot. Hammered, plain and simple.

The old guys who are saying players with wood racquets have the best ever one handers...please. There's a reason we have electricity over candles nowadays.

In this day and age with slow courts, and high-bouncing balls, rocket serves and ridiculous spin (and taller, stronger, faster better players overall) it's amazing anyone can make a living with a one- hander. Kudos to those that can. They have the best ones from any time period.

Fed, Stan, Guga, Gasquet, Gaudio
How could anyone seriously put Federer among the top 5 OHBHs ever, let alone the best? Trolling or...trolling is my only answer.
 
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