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Djokovic and Murray are hailed for their ROS abilities. As they see the ball crystal clear whether it is jumping 10 ft in the air, spinning 5ft wide of the team lines or coming right at their stomach at 130 mph.

But what about Federer? Who for years has actually dominated some of the best servers in the game? One thing I was thinking about is how techincally difficult is it for Federer to have such a good return of serve with a one handed backhand?

A two handed backhand has arguably way more stability in comparison to it's one handed counterpart. You can stick both hands tight and absorb the pace of the ball or even more easily flick both hands to get a screaming fastball or high jumping ball.

It seems on the one handed backhand side you would need a lot more precision and accuracy to try to control the ball.

So I'm curious on MTF's opinion on the technical difficulty of Federer's superb one handed backhand return? How does it rate for you?
 
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One of the reasons Federer was so good against big servers was just ability to block the ball with his slice. His main pattern of play consisted of chipping the ball back to a neutral position and then out rallying them from the baseline. Roddick was a prime example of someone whose serve was completely neutralised by Federer with simple block returns on both wings. Another Federer favourite was employing the short slice which made his opponent come in with a poorly conceived approach shot and get passed basically every time. Contrast this strategy to someone like Nadal where the slice return is poor because it immediately puts Federer on the back foot scrambling to maintain neutral positioning.

In terms of the topspin backhand return it's an extremely difficult shot for even the absolute best. If you look at guys like Wawrinka or Gasquet they either chip the back like Federer does or give up metres of the baseline so they have time to take a full cut at the ball. Taking a serve early on a single handed backhand is probably the toughest shot in the sport because the timing window and margin for error is miniscule. Kick serves are even worse because you have to smother the ball before gets out of your hitting zone. Federer probably fares better than most because his backhand is better as an instinctive shot where he can just rely on timing instead of having to generate his own pace. He's never been someone who likes to "stand and deliver" on the backhand which hurt him in baseline rallies but helped him for the ROS and passing shot.

That game in RG 2013 where Haas had 7-8 match points on Isner's serve was one of the best examples I've seen of single hander refusing to slice and trying to counter near head high kick serves. You could hardly even call some of the topspin backhands because there was virtually no time to swing or brush up the back of the ball, they were more like just flat jabs.
 

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Peak Fed was indeed tested to the limit by his competition back in the day, especially by all those advanced servebots. Easy blocking of Botdick's strong but basic and inaccurate serves, and struggling with baby-Rafa's weak but a little more advanced and precise body-serves is all we need to know about this subject.
 

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Thanks Leng Jai. Well said.
Peak Fed was indeed tested to the limit by his competition back in the day, especially by all those advanced servebots. Easy blocking of Botdick's strong but basic and inaccurate serves, and struggling with baby-Rafa's weak but a little more advanced and precise body-serves is all we need to know about this subject.
Bro , what?
 
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Exceptional hand eye coordination , feel and timing.
Yes , amazing hand eye coordination. It it super tough to time and calculate when to stick the racquet out.

Bro, is the thread title intentional? Tribute to Malvinluisandy perhaps?
No I can't edit anything anymore... so what am I supposed to do when I'm on the phone and posting on MTF?

But if it was Malvin's thread, it would read: "Federer backhand is difficult more than Backhand on serve?"
 

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Tsitsipas can really rip that topspin bh return, never seen someone do that so consistently as he does from on the baseline. As leng jai said, you have to give up court like Thiem or Gasquet usually to crack that shot
 

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Thanks Leng Jai. Well said.


Bro , what?
Good serve is not all about speed / strength, it's also a matter of placement and spin. Botdick is a fine example of this from the servebots' side - strong serve and that's it, which is why a returner like Fed was able to block it easily, while baby Rafa is one example from the opposite side - weak but tricky serve, which is why Fed's return got exposed. It's almost like "peak Fed" was the one-dimensional flat serve return-bot.
 
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Roger’s short swing on ROS and exceptional hand-eye coordination (timing) make it possible to play effective OH topspin BH especially off big serves, keep the point neutral and stay very close to the baseline. That’s what Dominic has been struggling with pretty much his entire career (although improved now a bit) his natural big swing makes him much more prone to errors on those returns so he opts to move back farther behind the baseline which improves his return efficiency but puts him in a more defensive position in a rally from the get-go. He easily gets away with it on clay but not on fast surfaces especially vs big hitters.
 

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while baby Rafa is one example from the opposite side - weak but tricky serve, which is why Fed's return got exposed. It's almost like "peak Fed" was the one-dimensional flat serve return-bot.
Yes, because Fed's ROS was his Achilles heel in his match-up against Rafa, right? (Or at least so says NOBODY who follows men's tennis.)
 

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As in all areas of his game, Fed's variety is the key to his BH returning success. He can chip, block, slice and hit a clean topspin winner. And if his opponent tries a kick serve to the BH, especially on second serve, he's fast and brave enough to run round it.

He's like Steffi Graf in that respect, just with more topspin and less slice. But there is no obvious place for a server to go to. Even Rafa's high-bouncing leftie serve to his BH on clay had only limited success, with Fed still able to float awkward returns to the baseline.

But yes: skill, timing, variety.
 

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Good serve is not all about speed / strength, it's also a matter of placement and spin. Botdick is a fine example of this from the servebots' side - strong serve and that's it, which is why a returner like Fed was able to block it easily, while baby Rafa is one example from the opposite side - weak but tricky serve, which is why Fed's return got exposed. It's almost like "peak Fed" was the one-dimensional flat serve return-bot.
Federer never struggled with Dull’s serve, it was his forehand that gave him trouble but not anymore ?
 

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Federer has exceptional timing and can take it early really well. Also a mix of good blocks and chips give the server trouble which is why Roddick struggled so much more on serve against Federer than anyone else.
 

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Everybody who observed "peak Fed" VS baby Rafa matches objectively could see that baby Rafa scored several body-serve serve-winners on very important points. It wasn't a weapon as his topspin fh and movement, but it still helped him significantly to reject peak Fed's attempts to break him. Where was Fed's multi-dimensional and technically advanced return then?
 
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Everybody who observed "peak Fed" VS baby Rafa matches objectively could see that baby Rafa scored several body-serve serve-winners on very important points. It wasn't a weapon as his topspin fh and movement, but it still helped him significantly to reject peak Fed's attempts to break him. Where was Fed's multi-dimensional and technically advanced return then?
The serve isn't the reason that Rafa destroyed Federer.... it was two things.

One is the speed of Rafa in comparison to 90% of the tour. He was / is the quickest tennis player and could / can track down any ball.
Two is Rafa's top spin. Basically outside of Federer doing 2017 ballsy tactics, any way that Federer returned the ball , Nadal would neutralize the point by somehow running around his backhand and pick on Federer's forehand. It was the pattern of play on any given baseline to baseline rally that ended peak Fed's dominance. If it wasn't the one handed backhand , then it was Nadal running down one more shot.
 

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The serve isn't the reason that Rafa destroyed Federer.... it was two things.

One is the speed of Rafa in comparison to 90% of the tour. He was / is the quickest tennis player and could / can track down any ball.
Two is Rafa's top spin. Basically outside of Federer doing 2017 ballsy tactics, any way that Federer returned the ball , Nadal would neutralize the point by somehow running around his backhand and pick on Federer's forehand. It was the pattern of play on any given baseline to baseline rally that ended peak Fed's dominance. If it wasn't the one handed backhand , then it was Nadal running down one more shot.
Where did I say that Rafa's serve decided those matches? I just said it helped, which is a fact. Fed simply reduced further his not-that-great chances in those matches by being the one-dimensional flat serve return-bot.
 

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Where did I say that Rafa's serve decided those matches? I just said it helped, which is a fact. Fed simply reduced further his not-that-great chances in those matches by being the one-dimensional flat serve return-bot.
So are you saying that all of Federer's opponents have been flat serve bots? He has done very well against kick serves and even slice serves... discounting Nadal's serve.

Nadal has always been Federer's crutch due to immense spin. Of course he never changed his tactics vs. Nadal and was defiant to do the same thing over and over. Another factor is the mental aspect , Federer could turn into a spineless chicken vs. Nadal and defeat himself even before getting on the court. Although, one can see in 2017 he changed up his position and tactics and it payed dividends against facing Nadal and his serve. It's hard to argue whether he could have done the same thing from 2006-20__ whatever , but still, statically speaking you cannot use one serve in Federer's career to discredit the rest of his returning abilities on the backhand side. Like I mentioned, he has dealt with a multitude of serves as shown by his positive H2H vs. 90% of the tour and not all of the players are flat serve bots.
 

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So are you saying that all of Federer's opponents have been flat serve bots? He has done very well against kick serves and even slice serves... discounting Nadal's serve.

Nadal has always been Federer's crutch due to immense spin. Of course he never changed his tactics vs. Nadal and was defiant to do the same thing over and over. Another factor is the mental aspect , Federer could turn into a spineless chicken vs. Nadal and defeat himself even before getting on the court. Although, one can see in 2017 he changed up his position and tactics and it payed dividends against facing Nadal and his serve. It's hard to argue whether he could have done the same thing from 2006-20__ whatever , but still, statically speaking you cannot use one serve in Federer's career to discredit the rest of his returning abilities on the backhand side. Like I mentioned, he has dealt with a multitude of serves as shown by his positive H2H vs. 90% of the tour and not all of the players are flat serve bots.
If peak Fed's return is so great and versatile and can handle all kinds of spins, how come Fed couldn't return better against baby Rafa's seemingly mediocre serve? Is it because baby Rafa found a way to expose his return, or is it because of something else?
 
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