Top 5 Best Backhands of All Time and What We Can Learn from Their Technique

Having a strong backhand is crucial for success in modern tennis, both offensively and defensively. It is a shot that requires a lot of practice and technical skill to master. In this article, we will explore the top 5 best backhands of all time and what we can learn from their technique.

One of the biggest challenges in mastering the backhand stroke is consistency. Unlike the forehand, which is often hit with more power and is easier to control, the backhand requires a more delicate touch. It is also a shot that is more susceptible to errors, especially when under pressure. However, with the right technique and practice, a strong backhand can be a major weapon on the court.

There are two types of backhands: the single-handed and double-handed backhand. While the double-handed backhand is more commonly used in professional tennis today, the single-handed backhand is still a valuable shot to have in your arsenal. It can be more versatile and provide a greater range of angles, while the double-handed backhand can offer more power and stability. Understanding the strengths of each can help you determine which type of backhand to focus on improving.

The Top 5 Legends of the Backhand

If you’re looking to improve your backhand, there’s no better place to start than by studying the best of the best. Here are the top five players of all time with the best backhands, and what you can learn from their techniques.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic’s backhand is widely regarded as one of the best in tennis history. His unparalleled consistency and ability to generate topspin, slice, and flat shots with both one-handed and two-handed varieties make him a force to be reckoned with on the backhand side.

One of the most impressive aspects of Djokovic’s backhand is his exceptional return game. His aggressive returns deep in the court put pressure on his opponents from the start of every point.

Stanislas Wawrinka

Stanislas Wawrinka’s backhand is a thing of beauty. His huge, whip-like one-handed backhand generates effortless power and is one of the most feared shots in tennis.

Wawrinka’s shot deception is also a key component of his backhand. He disguises his backhand slice until the last moment, making it difficult for his opponents to read his shots. His ability to paint the lines and open up the court with angles and lines is also a major strength.

Richard Gasquet

Richard Gasquet’s elegant one-handed backhand is a textbook example of classical technique. His smooth, fluid preparation and exceptional touch for drop shots and angled volleys make him a true artist on the court.

One of the most impressive aspects of Gasquet’s backhand is his ability to disguise his shots. He uses similar preparation for powerful drives and delicate slices, keeping his opponents guessing and off balance.

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori’s fast, accurate two-handed backhand is a major weapon in his arsenal. He is particularly effective on the run, where he can generate power and accuracy with ease.

Nishikori’s counterpunching ability is also a key component of his backhand. He has a knack for turning defense into offense with his backhand, and his aggressive returns take away time from his opponents.

David Nalbandian

David Nalbandian’s all-court backhand is a true thing of beauty. He is comfortable hitting aggressive backhands from anywhere on the court, and his ability to strike flat, penetrating winners is a major strength.

Nalbandian’s backhand is also a major weapon when it comes to passing shots. He used his backhand as a go-to passing shot on both sides, making him a true threat at the net.

Key Takeaways: What We Can Learn

If you’re looking to improve your backhand, here are some key takeaways that you can learn from the best players in the game.

Preparation is Key

The best backhands in the game are built on a solid foundation of footwork and balance. Early preparation is crucial for timing and balance across all styles. Players like Victoria Azarenka and Danielle Collins are known for their exceptional footwork and setup, which allows them to hit their backhands with power and accuracy.

Hips and Shoulders

Generating power on your backhand requires proper use of your hips and shoulders. Players like Iga Swiatek and Victoria Azarenka emphasize the importance of core rotation and using hips and shoulders to generate power for each backhand type. By rotating your hips and shoulders, you can add more power and spin to your shots.

Grip and Technique

The type of grip you use on your backhand can greatly affect the shot. Eastern, Semi-Western, and Western grips are the most common types of backhand grips. Each grip has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the grip you use will depend on your personal preference and playing style. Players like Victoria Azarenka and Danielle Collins use a Semi-Western grip, while Iga Swiatek uses an Eastern grip. Additionally, you should adapt your technique based on the type of shot you want to hit. For example, slice shots require a flatter swing path and a more open racket face, while topspin shots require a more closed racket face and a more upward swing path.


The best backhands are versatile and adaptable. Players like Victoria Azarenka and Danielle Collins have developed a variety of backhands (topspin, flat, slice) to use for different situations and against different opponents. Developing a variety of backhands can help you keep your opponents guessing and give you an edge on the court.


While these all-time greats offer a treasure trove of backhand wisdom, remember that tennis is a constantly evolving sport. Don’t get stuck simply imitating the past. As new technologies and playing styles emerge, the “perfect” backhand will also continue to adapt. Let these legends serve as your foundation, but stay curious and keep experimenting to find what truly unlocks your own ultimate backhand.


FAQ #1

Question: What makes a great backhand in tennis?

Answer: A great backhand combines several key elements:

  • Consistency: The ability to hit the ball cleanly and accurately time after time.
  • Power: Generating pace to put opponents on the defensive.
  • Variety: Using topspin, slice, and flat shots to change the trajectory and keep opponents guessing.
  • Adaptability: Adjusting the backhand to hit from different positions on the court, especially when under pressure.

FAQ #2

Question: Who are some players famous for their backhands?

Answer: Tennis history is full of incredible backhands, but some of the most iconic include:

  • Novak Djokovic: Known for his laser-like accuracy and ability to hit winners from both corners.
  • Stan Wawrinka: One-handed backhand powerhouse famed for his raw power and deceptive slice.
  • Richard Gasquet: Possesses a graceful, classic one-handed backhand with exceptional touch.
  • Kei Nishikori: Aggressive two-handed backhand hitter and brilliant counterpuncher.
  • David Nalbandian: Flat, powerful backhand that could dictate points from anywhere on the court.

FAQ #3

Question: Should I use a one-handed or two-handed backhand?

Answer: This depends on your individual strengths and preferences. Two-handed backhands offer power and stability, especially for younger players. One-handed backhands allow for more reach, disguise, and versatility of shot selection. Consider trying both and see what feels most natural and effective for your game.

FAQ #4

Question: How can I improve my backhand topspin?

Answer: Here are a few focus points:

  • Grip: Use a semi-western or western grip for easier topspin generation.
  • Swing Path: Start your swing low and finish high, brushing up the back of the ball.
  • Follow Through: Extend your arm fully towards your target and across your body.
  • Practice: Hitting against a wall is a great way to groove your topspin mechanics.
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