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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here's my ranking and analysis of Federer's best form with his backhand since he reached his peak til now.

1. 2005: I think this was clearly his best year for his backhand. Always looking stable as a rally shot (you don't see shanks most of the time) and the confidence to go DTL was at all time high. He was also doing what it does best as a weapon: redirecting shots on the rise into winners. We saw that plenty of times against his meetings in Agassi throughout the year in AO, Dubai, Miami, US Open and etc.

2. 2006: Federer's backhand virtuoso performance against Blake TMC final highlighted Federer's improvement when driving the ball across with topspin throughout the 2nd half of the year. I only put it 2nd because his encounters with Nadal on clay had affected his supreme confidence he had compared to 2005 and he was the first person to make it seem like it was a "weakness".

3. 2003: This was the closing stages when Federer throughout his early years seemed to actually rely his backhand more towards his preferred S&V game and his effectiveness in redirecting power serves. 2003 felt like a transition year for his backhand.

4. 2004: This was the year Federer started to rely on his backhand less (compared to 2003 and years beforehand) and emphasised the destructive power of his forehand by running around the BH with it. Hence, we didn't really see much of Federer's backhand and there were times when his topspin rally backhand made it slightly easier to pounce on. But still, his BH in 2004 was very, very solid.

5. 2007: 2007 was the year where the entirety of Federer's game started to change, or rather "adapt" to the upcoming modern era where topspin became more relevant towards the metagame of rallies. As such, Federer's backhand became more conservative, with rather being flow-free and blasting winners with it, it simply became a very strong rally shot. It was the early prototype to how Federer's mindset with the backhand became nowadays after a steep decline. Federer was still in his peak years though and his backhand was still a lethal weapon nevertheless.

6. 2014/2015/2016: It was the change made by Federer to a new, bigger frame that he now understood that he had to reinvent his game for the modern era. The bigger frame of course traded swiss precision for less shanks and more stability. Long gone the days where we confidently see him going DTL winners or effortlessly generate depth CC in rally exchanges, Federer simply wanted to become a "grinder" or sorts with his BH and that was to stay literally on court.

7. 2011/2012: Like 2007 and 2014/2015, 2011/2012 years for Federer's backhand felt like the 2nd stage of his career where he simply became more conservative but more stable with it. I put it below his 2014/2015 years because compared to the latter, he got "instant access" to the consistency of his topspin backhand. But these 2 years felt like a working work of progress to eradicate the horror years of 2009/2010 where it felt like every shot going to his backhand side was going to shank or either land at the service box with no bite/intensity. It was thanks to Annacone and especially Djokovic who gave him more confidence that he could hang between BH exchanges overall.

8. 2008: This was the year where I definitely noticed a decline in his overall backhand in terms of the stroke production and his depth. The off-days he had where he was still recovering from mono in the 1st 6 months of the season showed in his backhand. The "Shankerer" term really started to be used more throughout his matches.

9. 2013: Mediocre is pretty much all you can say but it was understandable since Federer clearly declined that year along with the rest of his game. And yet, it still wasn't as bad as...

10. 2009/2010 I felt like these were the worst years for Federer's backhand especially in the middle of 2010. It's a pretty comfortable correlation to assume his level of backhand translated to his overall success. Literally, the only tournament where it was effective was 2010 Australian Open and near the end of 2010 under Annacone coaching. Besides that, he had nothing going for him. No confidence to go DTL, was giving away the initiative with the lack of depth going CC and of course the shanks...his slice was pretty much a go to option for him 90% of the time or just run around to FH. The latter didn't work half the time because his footwork/foot-speed regressed which made it harder to execute.
 

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This is second best I've seen from you after ACC post.
 

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TheBigFourFTW said:
7. 2011/2012: Like 2007 and 2014/2015, 2011/2012 years for Federer's backhand felt like the 2nd stage of his career where he simply became more conservative but more stable with it. I put it below his 2014/2015 years because compared to the latter, he got "instant access" to the consistency of his topspin backhand. But these 2 years felt like a working work of progress to eradicate the horror years of 2009/2010 where it felt like every shot going to his backhand side was going to shank or either land at the service box with no bite/intensity. It was thanks to Annacone and especially Djokovic who gave him more confidence that he could hang between BH exchanges overall.
Thank you, TheBigFourFTW. This is a pleasure to read and think back. I am not lucid enough to remember every single detail that you mention, but it is great going back and thinking about the timeline and some of the things you say. You clearly have an analytical mind for this.

What do you mean above that Djokovic gave Federer confidence in 2011/2012 with his BH?

Reading your post made me really want to watch some of the vintage Federer matches, and for no especial reason related to his BH side, I just downloaded the 2006 Rome Final which I hadn't watched in a while.

Maybe we should keep this thread alive and add links (for example to YouTube videos) to illustrate what you described in your timeline.

A shame that there are not more threads like this. :hatoff:
 

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Federer's backhand was on fire at AO 2010, for that reason alone it should be ranked a bit higher IMO.
 

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2006 > 2007 > 2010 > 2005 > 2014/15 > 2009 > 2012 > 2011 > 2008 > 2003 > 2004 > 2013
 

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Excellent thread. I'd have the 2006 version as his finest backhand but no biggie. Very, very good post :worship:
 

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I think you guys are underrating 2011/2012 a bit.

2005/2006 was about as good as backhands get.

That 2006 Shanghai match vs. Blake is really something. Never seen anything else quite like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thank you, TheBigFourFTW. This is a pleasure to read and think back. I am not lucid enough to remember every single detail that you mention, but it is great going back and thinking about the timeline and some of the things you say. You clearly have an analytical mind for this.

What do you mean above that Djokovic gave Federer confidence in 2011/2012 with his BH?

Reading your post made me really want to watch some of the vintage Federer matches, and for no especial reason related to his BH side, I just downloaded the 2006 Rome Final which I hadn't watched in a while.

Maybe we should keep this thread alive and add links (for example to YouTube videos) to illustrate what you described in your timeline.

A shame that there are not more threads like this. :hatoff:
I meant that Djokovic in a way made Federer's rally backhand better as the year (2011) progressed throughout their meetings. The typical rally (as well as Djokovic's point construction) between these two are backhand to backhand cross-court exchanges where Djokovic tries to pepper to the Federer BH side until he either:

- Shanks
- Gets a short reply to pounce for a winner
- Forces Federer to go BH DTL at an uncomfortable rally (not attacking) baseline position.

The third example can be shown starting from 4:00



Notice how Federer gets slightly pushed back from the baseline as the rallies continue between them. During the middle of 2010, Federer pretty much avoided this scenario like every time lol by slicing in either neutral or defensive positions. Since Djokovic's backhand is extremely effective, but incredible steady (rhythm wise) to hit against, it was pretty much a very good "free practise" for Federer to try and train up his rally backhand to combat these scenarios. It was inevitable in the long run due to the slowing court surfaces favouring these particular type of rallies. Because of this, the improvement of Federer's backhand from Djokovic allowed him to do this in their later matches...

Look at the difference starting from 6:16

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wanted to bump this thread since I forgot to update on how I would rank Federer's backhand in 2016. Pretty much the same as 2014 and 2015 from his racquet change.

Also wanted to get some more discussion going about this too. :)
 

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I think it's difficult to judge years as a whole period, because even in 2010 he had a great AO and WTF form, while in 2005 his backhand during the US Open looked very shaky.

Overall I agree with 2008-clay season of 2011 being the worst time for his backhand (he lost AO 2011 SF mostly because he couldn't sustain Novak's pressure on his backhand in rallies), I was watching SF against Del Potro at RG in 2009 yesterday and he didn't hit 1 good rally backhand down the line plus most of the cross court bhs landed before the service line and Delpo just murdered them, only positive were the passing shots. These were always great, but the discrepancy between a rally shot and a passing shot was massive in that match.

In those years he had similar problem to what Dimitrov has been experiencing, his top spin backhand was genuinely weak, but he still used it too often instead of slice, which is mind-boggling given the quality of his slice. IMO his improvement on the backhand side since 2011 clay season was the substantial reason why he regained the number 1 spot next year.

As for 2016, it's similar to 2014/15, the new racquet helped him with reducing the amount of shanks and added more power. His backhand is very close to his forehand quality-wise nowadays, which hadn't been the case till 2014.

And 1 last thing about 2007: Obviously his objective changed to win RG, so he changed his game as well. But in RG final against Nadal, where he should've used all the improvements and win his maiden trophy, he went full retard instead and played majority of backhand shots to Nadal's forehand, which would be suicidal even against this year's Nadal.
 

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Good analysis. But IMO 2006 could be ranked 1st. Yeah, his backhand performance in that MC final against Blake was memorable - he was hitting corners and lines at will.
His backhand crisis in 2008 was also noticed easily - he also started hitting with his racquet frame much more often.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I think it's difficult to judge years as a whole period, because even in 2010 he had a great AO and WTF form, while in 2005 his backhand during the US Open looked very shaky.

Overall I agree with 2008-clay season of 2011 being the worst time for his backhand (he lost AO 2011 SF mostly because he couldn't sustain Novak's pressure on his backhand in rallies), I was watching SF against Del Potro at RG in 2009 yesterday and he didn't hit 1 good rally backhand down the line plus most of the cross court bhs landed before the service line and Delpo just murdered them, only positive were the passing shots. These were always great, but the discrepancy between a rally shot and a passing shot was massive in that match.

In those years he had similar problem to what Dimitrov has been experiencing, his top spin backhand was genuinely weak, but he still used it too often instead of slice, which is mind-boggling given the quality of his slice. IMO his improvement on the backhand side since 2011 clay season was the substantial reason why he regained the number 1 spot next year.

As for 2016, it's similar to 2014/15, the new racquet helped him with reducing the amount of shanks and added more power. His backhand is very close to his forehand quality-wise nowadays, which hadn't been the case till 2014.

And 1 last thing about 2007: Obviously his objective changed to win RG, so he changed his game as well. But in RG final against Nadal, where he should've used all the improvements and win his maiden trophy, he went full retard instead and played majority of backhand shots to Nadal's forehand, which would be suicidal even against this year's Nadal.
Yeah I agree about that. Look at this point at 1:00. He should be doing this every time by going BH DTL. :mad:

 

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Since Djokovic's backhand is extremely effective, but incredible steady (rhythm wise) to hit against, it was pretty much a very good "free practise" for Federer to try and train up his rally backhand to combat these scenarios. It was inevitable in the long run due to the slowing court surfaces favouring these particular type of rallies. Because of this, the improvement of Federer's backhand from Djokovic allowed him to do this in their later matches...
This is a good remark, a good example of how Federer's wasn't so much afraid anymore to go toe-to-toe with Djokovic on the backhand side circa 2012 is their Wimbledon match that year. That's one of the very few examples of Federer dominating Novak from the left side. Of course, the grass bounce helps a lot but it was still impressive.

Look this highlights from 5:56 on, how Federer's backhand is holding well under the pressure :

(Sorry, I don't know the BBCode syntax to set the start time)
 

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Nadal really ruined Federer's career (to the extent that 17 GS's can be called an underachievement). If it had instead been Djokovic that Fed had been competing with in his prime years, he would have maintained his flatter, more explosive shot construction, and developed the aggressive tactics which were exemplified in 2015. Instead, he focused on cutting down unforced errors in an effort to hang with Nadal from the baseline - ironic, considering that the only strategy which ended up working for him was pure ballbashing. Another consequence was that he lost confidence in his slice, which is a great defensive tool against Djokovic but ineffective against Nadal.
 

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Would rank 2006 above 2005 purely because of the clay performances - some great dtl backhands that year.

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2006 is number one and its not even close. Fredo's BH in 2006 was almost as good as his FH. He would've beaten the nadal in all matches even on clay had he not choked and luckdal not showed up
 

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2006 is number one and its not even close. Fredo's BH in 2006 was almost as good as his FH. He would've beaten the nadal in all matches even on clay had he not choked and luckdal not showed up
2006 Federer is arguably the perfect player. Head and shoulders above the rest; he was off the planet.

The backhand is great stuff. Roger may shank it here and there today but it really is a work of art. He's hit some crackers over the years.

I do fancy a little chocolate treat when RF gives us a glimpse of the rare 2HBH.

 

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I don't agree with putting 2016 Federer's Backhand in the same rating with the 14/15 version. It was considerably worse. Pretty much his whole game was b/c of the injuries though especially his movement and forehand, but still this takes into account the backhand as well. In 2016 he could barely rally and the shanks from both wings were at an all time high.

Federer's level after the AO was honestly pretty poor. The Rome and Halle/Stuttgart was probably even worse than 2013. Didn't show signs of great tennis. Not the case in 14/15 where had some stupendous performances in which his backhand excelled as well.
 

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03-07 is when tennis was completely different i.e. no defense being played (and those that did owned Federer), flat hitting (unlike topspin from later), minimal baseline tennis, Federer's rivals were terrible movers and had fatal flaws in their games. etc.

Federer had to adapt to the modern game and better athletes/players. He also actually had to build the point in the modern game unlike before
 

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2006 Federer is arguably the perfect player. Head and shoulders above the rest; he was off the planet.

The backhand is great stuff. Roger may shank it here and there today but it really is a work of art. He's hit some crackers over the years.

I do fancy a little chocolate treat when RF gives us a glimpse of the rare 2HBH.

:lol:

Yes Pnard, Fed's DTL BH is so beautiful,love the footwork and follow through, free flowing :hearts:

His 2HBH is like milk chocolate, good once in a while but prefer dark chocolate my friend from down under ;)
 
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