The forehand for a tennis player is the natural groundstroke motion, but a great player is capable of hitting off both wings. A dominant backhand can turn a player into a huge threat every single time they take the court.
Whether it is a one-handed backhand or a two-handed backhand, there have been players in tennis history known for this particular shot. These are the 10 best tennis backhands of all time, even if some of these players are still adding to their resume.
10. Bjorn Borg
Unlike a lot of players during his time, Bjorn Borg played mostly from the baseline. He relied on powerful groundstrokes to keep opponents on edge at all times. His backhand was particularly dominant, even if it was a bit unorthodox compared to others.
The key to his backhand came from his dominant right hand. He generated a lot of power with his technique, actually letting go of the racquet with his left hand right after contact. His follow-through was one-handed, but it was the extra hand that helped him hit consistently.
Borg was able to hit flat and topspin shots off his backhand, which was a bit unique during that time. His technique would change quite a bit with modern racquet technology, but he showed other players that a backhand could be just as dominant as a forehand.
9. Stefan Edberg
Although Edberg was known as a serve and volley player, he did not have a particularly dominant serve. How was he able to have so much success? Not only could he place his serve where he wanted it, but he had great volleying skills and a one-handed backhand that could dictate points as well.
Known as one of the best backhands of his era, Edberg could rip through the ball when he needed to. He was also able to chip in charge at times to get to the net and dictate points that way. His game could translate into just about every era, which is why he is consistently rated as one of the best ever to play.
8. Jimmy Connors
Jimmy Connors was one of the first players to adopt a pretty flat two-handed backhand, and that threw off many opponents throughout his career. He was not particularly big, but he was able to generate a lot of power in an era when most people were only hitting one-handed backhand and slicing the ball more often than not.
With modern technology, Connors could very well be an even more dominant force. He was a pioneer as far as ushering the game into the new era. He was able to play for a long time, relying on powerful strokes even when he lost a bit of his speed.
7. David Goffin
David Goffin has a very modern game, sitting on the baseline and trying to pull off offensive shots when the opportunity arises. He has been able to turn his backhand into a potent weapon, and it is very technically sound as well.
His favorite backhand is a shot down the line when he gets the opportunity. He is an excellent mover on the court, so he will take his time developing a point until he sees an opportunity to hit one down the line. He is pretty patient for a player who has some put-away shots.
6. Richard Gasquet
Another Frenchman to make this list is Richard Gasquet, and he has been hitting beautiful backhands for quite some time. He is a modern-day player with a one-handed backhand that not only looks great but is a very effective weapon.
Some people are surprised that Gasquet can have so much success with a big takeback on his backhand, but he is very quick with his entire motion. He can get a lot of topspin on his backhand, and he is also well known for putting extreme angles on the ball. The rest of his game never caught up to his backhand, but he still had a very impressive career.
5. Benoit Paire
The Frenchman has never made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam event, but he certainly can’t blame his results on his backhand. It is a very flashy shot, and that sometimes gets him in a little trouble. When he is completely dialed in, his two-handed backhand has as much speed and spin as any player currently on tour.
His favorite shot is to hit is a topspin backhand crosscourt to gain an advantage in the middle of the point. When he sees an opportunity, he will then try to go for a more flat backhand down one of the lines to finish the point off.
He is one of the few players on tour who will actually run around to hit a backhand instead of a forehand at times. If his forehand ever gets better late in his career, he could make a Grand Slam push at some point.
4. Rafael Nadal
In the early stages of his career, Rafael Nadal’s uncle Tony decided to teach his nephew how to play with his opposite hand. He felt that having this set up would allow for a very powerful backhand weapon, and that proved to be the case.
Early in his career, it seems like Nadal was a little too focused on running around backhands when he thought he had time. He did not trust it, even though it was a remarkably consistent shot for him. Now, he can stay a bit more balanced, and he can hit a backhand that is flat or with a tunnel topspin.
Specifically, on clay, Nadal is capable of handling any shots to his backhand. It is more of a consistent stroke than a killer weapon, but he can still develop some opportunities when he needs to.
3. Stan Wawrinka
In the modern game, Wawrinka is in the conversation for the best one-handed backhand. He uses it as a very aggressive, offensive shot, and it has great consistency on all surfaces.
Wawrinka is a bit undersized compared to some of the other top players on tour right now, but he makes up for it with powerful strokes. It has actually turned into a more and more consistent shot later in his career, which helped him win three Grand Slam titles.
The common thought is that the one-handed backhand is fading away, but guys like Wawrinka are making sure that it is still a weapon. Players have a bit more reach with a one-handed option, and the footwork is a bit different.
2. Andy Murray
Andy Murray turned into a world number one player thanks to his defensive baseline play. He is one of the best counterpunchers the game has ever seen, and his backhand is particularly consistent. Not only is it about as picture-perfect as they come for two-handed backhands, but he can turn defense into offense with it.
Murray does a great job off of returns, and it makes him an excellent player breaking serve. His size certainly helps. but he has extremely soft hands that help him absorb power with ease. His sliced backhand also allows him to have a decent amount of success when the opportunity arises.
1. Novak Djokovic
These days, Novak Djokovic is known as one of the most well-rounded tennis players of all time. However, he evolved into this, after struggling with a few aspects early on in his career. One-shot he has never struggled with is his backhand.
There are a lot of people who believe that Djokovic has the best backhand of all time. He can put the ball pretty much wherever he wants, and it keeps him very well positioned at all times. If having a consistent backhand to hit through the ball is not enough, he also has a great underspin drop shot and slice backhand when he needs to use it as well.
Players on tour fear an offensive-minded Djokovic with a good look at a backhand. He rarely misses, and it is a dominant shot on all surfaces. There are certain instances where he not only gets to a shot on his backhand, but pulls off a remarkable shot in the process that no one else can accomplish.