Roger Federer has a message for all of his opponents who have consistently attacked his one-handed backhand over the years: Thank you.
“My coaches taught me a one-hander. A two-hander was never an option really. So I stuck with it,” Federer told reporters in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where he defeated Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the ABM AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Wednesday.
“Thankfully to all my opponents over the years who have played a million balls to my backhand, it’s actually gotten pretty good. I can really thank them in a big way for improving my backhand.”
That’s sweet, Roger, though I’m also pretty sure that if Rafael Nadal didn’t send all those heavy topspin forehands to your backhand over the years, you’d probably have a few more Grand Slam titles. The point is well taken, though, as Federer’s topspin backhand emerged as one of the prettiest shots in the game when he connects.
“Practice can only get you so far,” he said. “I improved by playing. And as I was getting stronger, I was able to put more topspin on the ball. The slice is easy on the body and it’s always been my favorite shot to hit as a little kid.”
That said, Federer admitted that he would probably teach his daughters to play with a two-handed backhand if they decide to take up the sport. The utility of having close to equal power consistently on both sides is undeniable, and though the two-hander offers less reach than a one-handed backhand, modern players such as Nadal and Novak Djokovic have shown that speed can be used to make up for it.
“But I would love to see more one-handers, for sure,” Federer clarified. “We don’t have many around anymore.”