The powerful one-handed backhand is a lost art in professional tennis. Many don’t realize it quite yet because of the unlikely extension of Roger Federer’s dominating run as a top-level player, but the one-handed backhand is a truly endangered species. Once Federer finally steps away from the Grand Slam stage, who will deliver to fans the singular pleasure of watching a great one-handed backhand in action?
We can hope some young future tennis star, despite admonishment from her efficiency-focused coaches, is practicing her one-handed backhand anyway. If so, she can take encouragement from the wonderful-to-watch Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro. Federer is out of this year’s Open, but Suarez Navarro just dispatched an aggressive Maria Sharapova with conviction, grit and a one-handed backhand that looks just like Federer’s.
Note the sharpness and clarity of the strike, the racket rising slightly up to impart topspin at the moment of impact. Suarez Navarro, who turned 30 on the day she defeated Sharapova, may be also (like Federer) in the twilight of her career — so don’t miss the beauty of her one-handed backhand if you get the chance. It’s a rare and terrific pleasure to see.
Suarez Navarro is the only elite player on women’s tour using a one-handed backhand. Other one-handed backhand players on the men’s side — besides Federer — keeping the beauty alive are:
- Stan Wawrinka
- Grigor Dimitrov
- Richard Gasquet
- Feliciano Lopez
- Philipp Kohlschreiber
- Tommy Haas
- Simone Bolelli