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5 notable players with a two-handed forehand ft. Peng Shuai, Monica Seles 

Peng Shuai and Monica Seles with a two-handed backhand
Peng Shuai and Monica Seles with a two-handed backhand

"Basically I started playing two-handed forehand and backhand because my first racquet was very heavy." - Bjorn Borg

The forehand and backhand are the two most commonly played shots in tennis. A forehand stroke is played such that it begins on the player's dominant side and is followed through to the contralateral side. In contrast, a backhand begins from the player's non-dominant end and the follow-through is completed on the dominant side of the player's body.

There are various ways to grip a tennis racquet. The majority of players use only one hand to hit a forehand stroke. A one-handed forehand can be gripped in a variety of ways if we take the bevel of the tennis handle as the reference point. This grip evolved with the evolution of the sport's rules, court speed and racquet technology.

A two-handed forehand is one of the rarely seen shots in tennis. Pancho Segura, one of the leading tennis players in the 1940s and 1950s, was one of the earliest and most prolific players to employ a two-handed forehand. Segura's greatest rival, Jack Kramer, has described it as the "single finest shot in tennis history."

Like every other grip, a two-handed forehand has its pros and cons. A two-handed forehand can help in establishing great command over the racquet, but once the shot is followed through, it might result in a locked position of both hands. This will disallow the player from generating any extra pace on the racquet.

Let's take a look at five notable modern players who found success with the two-handed forehand


#1. Fabrice Santoro

Fabrice Santoro
Fabrice Santoro

Fabrice Santoro played through an era where there was a transition of power in tennis. Having turned professional in 1989, Santoro retired in 2010 putting an end to one of the longest professional careers.

Despite never reaching the top 10 rankings, Santoro recorded 40 wins against Top 10 players. He won six singles titles in his career and once made it to the quarterfinals of a Slam and was a quarterfinalist at the 1992 Olympics.

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He found notable success in his doubles career, winning the 2005 French Open mixed doubles and the tour finals in 2005. The Spaniard was twice a member of the Davis Cup winning team in 1991 and 2001.

Santoro's forehand has often bewildered his opponents. Unlike most others, Santoro had enough command over his forehand to produce a topspin even with that grip. He would routinely slice with his forehand wing as well, which would often neutralize the powerful groundstrokes of many baseliners.


#2. Monica Seles

Monica Seles
Monica Seles

Former World No.1 Monica Seles has won nine singles Slams in her career. Often postulated as one of the greatest players were she not involved in the stabbing incident of 1993, Seles won 53 singles titles in her career.

She is arguably one of Steffi Graf's toughest competitors. The three-time Fed Cup champion and 2000 Olympic Bronze medalist was known for her two-handed forehand play.

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It was her father who helped her develop the two-handed forehand. Seles' forehand was unique for the sharp cross-court angles she produced while gripping the racquet with both hands.

It was flat and generated enough pace to rake up the winners count. For someone who didn't know that Seles was a southpaw, her forehand would appear like the routine two-handed backhand of a right-handed player.


#3. Marion Bartoli

Marion Bartoli
Marion Bartoli

Former World No.7 Marion Bartoli achieved the biggest accolade of her career when she added the Venus Rosewater Dish to her cabinet in 2013. She made the quarterfinals of every Slam in the singles category. The Frenchwoman also had a decent doubles career, reaching as high as World No.15 in the rankings.

Seles had a strong influence on Bartoli's style of play. Having watched the 1992 French Open final between Graf and Seles, Bartoli's father decided to teach her daughter the two-handed forehand. Bartoli has said that the two-handed forehand helped her gain better command over her forehand.

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Like Seles, Bartoli too had an aggressive two-handed forehand. The shot was so important in her artillery that every Prince racquet she used would be sent to New York to be modified in height to adapt to her two-handed forehand. Bartoli retired in 2013, winning 8 singles and 3 doubles titles in her career.


#4. Su-Wei Hsieh

Su Wei-Hsieh
Su Wei-Hsieh

One of the most unorthodox players on tour known for her wizardly and crafty shot-making, former doubles No.1 Su Wei-Hsieh uses a two-handed forehand. A winner of four doubles Majors, Hsieh has won 30 doubles titles in her career, which involves her Tour Finals win in 2013.

She has also won three singles tour-level titles and has been placed within the Top 25 in the rankings.

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Hsieh's forehand, which is guided by both her hands, can be powerful from the baseline while also being precise during drop-shots and slices. The Taiwanese player's forehand is also unique for the fact that she can make slices from that wing look easy on clay courts where the bounce of the ball is a lot trickier.


#5. Peng Shuai

Peng Shuai
Peng Shuai

Former World No.1 in doubles and former Top 15 singles player Peng Shuai is one of the few players in the modern game to have a two-handed forehand. A winner of two doubles Slams, Shuai made the semis of every doubles Slam of her career.

The two Majors that Shuai won were alongside fellow two-handed player Su-Wei Hsieh.

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Shuai's forehand has been effective enough in helping her win against notable top 10 players like Agnieszka Radwanska, Kim Clijsters, Jelena Jankovic and Martina Hingis. She was the winner of the 2013 WTA Finals in the doubles category, partnering with Hsieh. Shuai retired in February 2022, finishing with 23 tour-level doubles titles.

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Edited by Anirudh
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