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"What do you think about that?" - Iga Swiatek to Roger Federer & Dominic Thiem after hitting a one-handed backhand in practice

Iga Swiatek recently hit a one-handed backhand in practice, much like Roger Federer & Dominic Thiem
Iga Swiatek recently hit a one-handed backhand in practice, much like Roger Federer & Dominic Thiem
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Modified 24 Dec 2020, 19:56 IST
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Iga Swiatek recently uploaded a video of her hitting a one-handed backhand, while also tagging Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka and Carla Suarez Navarro in the post.

The 19-year-old Swiatek is known for her powerful two-handed backhand, which she used to great effect on her way to the French Open title this year. On the other hand, Federer, Thiem, Wawrinka and Suarez Navarro have employed flowing one-handed backhands for the better part of a decade, so Swiatek was keen to know what they thought of her makeshift shot.

"What do you think about that?" Swiatek asked the foursome in her caption, even as she struck a series of seemingly perfect one-handers on the practice court.

Iga Swiatek has one of the most versatile games on the women's tour; the Pole is capable of changing the pace and pattern of a rally on command, and she can attack from the baseline as well as the net. And if her latest post on social media is anything to go by, she is also quite comfortable changing the fundamental nature of one of her most important weapons - her backhand.

Some players - the most famous of which is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - are known for using a two-hander as their stock groundstroke but switching to one hand while hitting passing shots. It remains to be seen if Swiatek adds the one-hander to her already-loaded arsenal in the coming year; if she does, that will make her an even more difficult proposition for the rest of the tour.

Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem - the flag-bearers of the one-handed backhand

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Once considered a stroke facing extinction, the one-handed backhand has become prominent once again in the men's game. World No. 3 Dominic Thiem, World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas and World No. 12 Denis Shapovalov all use the one-hander to good effect, even on clay.

Meanwhile the one-handed veterans such as Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov are all also ranked in the current Top 20. Admittedly, there is a big difference in the one-handers of, say, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem; Federer looks to hit it early and with precision, while Thiem goes for all out power. However, there is no denying that each one-hander on the tour right now has its own set of unique advantages.

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Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem's one-hander is very different from Roger Federer's, but it is equally effective

But while the one-handed backhand is used by many on the men's tour, the stroke is something of a rarity in the women's game. Former top 10 player Carla Suarez Navarro, who is currently undergoing treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma, is the only notable current player that comes to mind when you think of one-handed backhands on the WTA tour.

When struck well, the one-handed topspin backhand can be a beautiful shot to watch. Just take a look at the examples below from Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka.

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Besides the sheer beauty of the one-handed backhand and the amazing angles it can create, the shot also gives a player more reach. The one-hander can be a great option to help you stay alive longer in a rally, especially when stretched out wide.

That said, even the best exponents of the one-handed backhand tend to find themselves in trouble when forced to strike it from above shoulder height. Rafael Nadal has exploited that weakness of the shot very effectively in his matches against Roger Federer over the years.

Published 24 Dec 2020, 19:55 IST
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