Single-handed backhand in tennis: A liability or an art?
There are a few things in tennis that capture it's magic quite like the whip of the single-handed backhand. But in this age of power tennis where balls fly loaded with top-spin, it is seen more as a liability than a stroke of art.
Tommy Robredo. Pic/Getty Images
"Right now, I would say it is a disadvantage," says one of its finest executors, Tommy Robredo. The Spaniard, along with Russia's Mikhail Youzhny, enchanted Indian spectators for Mumbai Masters with the shot during the ongoing Champions Tennis League. He sees his lethal forehand, which he accelerates at will, as his biggest strength, but it's the single-handed backhand that draws most of the gasps.
"Nowadays players have great serves. It is definitely easier to return if you have a double-handed backhand. But I think it is nice to look at (the backhand)," he says. It's a shot that came naturally to Robredo when he first picked up tennis under the guidance of his father, Angel.
The 32-year-old Robredo's career has caught a second wind as he has made a stunning comeback since his injury in 2011. He has risen from 471 in the rankings in May 2012 to 17 on the latest ATP charts.
"Injuries are part of the game, but mine was really long because for a long time they could not figure out what was wrong. It was difficult making a comeback, and getting into the top-20 but I was ready mentally.
"I think I always had the game to make it back, and once you have the passion everything else falls into place." The last two years, since he's crossed 30 that is considered to sound alarm bells for pro athletes, have in fact been some of his best years. He beat Roger Federer at the US Open in 2013 and defeated world No 1 Novak Djokovic at the Cincinnati Masters last August.
"I think I was very close to the level where I could compete consistently with the top-five at the end of the season," says Robredo, who played epic three-setter against Andy Murray in the final of the Valencia Open. "It was difficult to lose since I had a few match points. But it was a great match, one of my best."
Spain’s Tommy Robredo's (aged 32) current ATP singles ranking