Roger Federer’s “Exquisite” Backhand

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Álex Corretja analyzes one of the Swiss player’s signature shots, combining dance, speed and aim

“Federer’s backhand is…excellent,” replies Álex Corretja after a while of waiting trying to find the right adjective to explain one of the Swiss’ many geniuses. It’s hard to understand and explain Federer’s elegance and talent without his one-handed backhand, one of the most eye-catching shots that grabs the viewer’s attention due to its combination of dance, speed, and aim. There’s no better shot than a one-handed backhand down the line. In a tennis that has increasingly turned to the two-handed backhand, more powerful, easier to interpret and which makes it easier to defend, Federer, when he was still very small, decided to follow in the footsteps of his idols, Stefan Edberg and later Pete. Sampras, and also his mother, Lynette, who used this stroke and chose the one-handed backhand.

“Federer’s backhand is excellent. It is a blow with a lot of plasticity, especially due to the variant of the cut backhand, very practical and very dangerous,” adds Corretja, who also had a nice one-handed backhand and now works as a commentator on Eurosport . , a channel that broadcasts the Laver Cup exclusively in Spain. Corretja emphasizes how the development of the cut has enabled him to compete against the great strikers of this era. “That shot makes it very dangerous against players who are very straight. , playing very aggressively, especially those with two-handed backhands.”

To talk about technique, the Helvetian’s positioning and footwork is essential. «He is almost always very well turned with his shoulders, with his right leg in front, with the head of the racket very high and with his elbow quite extended. Technically, the grip is very straight,” explains Corretja.

In addition, Federer has a disadvantage with the backhand. His dominant eye is the left eye, which is only found in 30% of the population. This has helped him develop a deadly forehand, one of the best in history, at the cost of a worse one-handed backhand than his peers, such as Richard Gasquet and Stan Wawrinka, who have a better backhand than a forehand.

To remedy this flaw, which became even more apparent with the emergence of Rfa Nadal, who punished Federer’s backhand with high balls forcing him to swing uncomfortably over his shoulder, the Swiss took a step forward in 2017 and increased his level of aggression. “Federer had some trouble moving his wrist on the backhand, but then he made that change in 2017. He started hitting the ball as it went up, rather than waiting for it to go over his shoulder because there it was. He got it thanks to moving very well That was one of his big changes, going for the ball instead of waiting for it He extended his arm a lot more, pushed his chest more forward and also moved his hand more That made it possible for me to find a lot more angles,” says Corretja, who won the two times he faced Federer.

But this change only came with his resurgence in 2017, when he won the last three Grand Slams of his career in just a year. He struggled for nearly 20 years, mostly on clay, so many pundits believed Federer’s successes were weighed down by his backhand. “More than a burden, it is clear in modern times that the one-handed backhand has to be excellent so that you can compete with the best, because people are taller, they serve you with more spin on the backhand, they play very deep, very right. To counter those blows from the rivals, you need a lot of precision. That’s why the backhand slice was so important to him. At the same time, that also meant that he had to run a lot more, because in most cases it is a defensive blow that slows down the game, with which you rarely take the point,” Corretja looks back.

The one-handed backhand is on the brink of extinction and there are only five players in the ‘top 100’ who execute this shot, none of them have the depth of the legendary Swiss player. “Federer is an icon of world sport, he is someone who transcends the barriers of tennis. Wherever he goes, people admire him, respect him, revere him and it is because he has earned it. His elegance, his charisma, his personality have made him a beloved person in the sports world and he leaves an infinite legacy. You will remain a myth for the rest of your life. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer… They marked an era and will continue to mark it. Federer isn’t going to do anything that isn’t a success,” Corretja concludes.

Source: La Verdad

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