This time it’s backhand. The guys at end up with Ken Rosewall as the player with the best backhand.

For me, it is hard to even try to comment on that. I haven’t seen more than a few clips of him and cannot say anything specific. But from what I’ve seen I still say that it is hard to compare different eras. To comment on what you said Tim; If you watch the following clip maybe you will see what I mean. This is Ashe-Roswewall from 71. Back then, coming to the net was necessary on every point. There are a few baseline rallies, but all of them end up with one of them attacking at the net. Both of them hit backhands but most of them are the short kind that you get from a volley, meaning low bouncing and therefore hard to get a real shot. Towards the end Rosewall shows what he could do. A good shot from Ashe is returned with great ease (almost Federer like) cross court and with a very nice angle. He had the sweet touch and could do a lot with it compared to some of his opponents. So from what I’ve seen, maybe a total of 20mins, Rosewall did have a great backhand. My problem is still that the play back then was so different that today’s players have to deal with a lot of extra details and of course the added pace. But that last backhand pass cross court with the stupid wood thing is quite nice.

The list at Tennis Magazine is long on the backhand shot. I could easily agree with Laver and Agassi. Don’t know enough about Trabert, Budge and Tilden, but my pick is still the short but explosive Jimmy Connors. I think probably for the player in the 70s, this guy was annoying as an opponent. He could hit that backhand pass any guy at the net and usually did it so straight forward and also hard. Wasn’t as fast as today but that guy was sometimes like a fire cracker.

The Contemporary picks I have no problem with. Federer – great, Nalbandian – perhaps even better, Gasquet – wow!, Youzhny – great too, Pavel – so nice and clean, Kuerten  – yes please, Gaudio – yes, but I wouldn’t pick this one, same with Marat. Safin at his best has a great backhand, but that’s the problem. When you find great shots, you need to sort them in a way that the ones who could use them as a weapon and that was consistent throughout their whole career, comes first. Safin consistent? No way.

And the ladies? You know what… Justine Henin gets my frickin’ vote. Better than Rosewall, better than Federer and all of the above. Connors did not have the same feel and flexibility as Henin. She is what… 4ft tall? Well at least in comparison to women’s Karlovic, which of course is Sharapova (6ft 2). With that height she hits it as hard as any ATP player and it is like a shotgun. When Henin is on fire, which she usually is, the backhand stays consistent too.

My pick based on what I’ve seen. (meaning watching whole matches and not 20min clips) Jimmy Connors and Justine Henin


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