The forehand in tennis is one of the most dominant weapons in the game. Players can dictate points off the ground with a forehand that is not only hit hard, but put in the right place. Some players excel by hitting flat, while others can put topspin on the ball to make it even more challenging for the opponents.
Thanks to modern technology, the best forehands of all time are mostly coming from recent players. Players are not only bigger and stronger than ever before, but modern racquets and string make a difference as well. Here are the ten best tennis forehands of all time.
10. Matteo Berrettini
The young Italian has really shown promise with his all-around game lately, but it’s his forehand that makes him a Grand Slam contender. He is very aggressive not only with his serve, but his forehand to back things up. It has a ton of speed behind it, and he gets a good amount of spin as well.
However, other parts of his game hold him back a bit, as his backhand is still pretty vulnerable compared to other players close to him in the rankings. However, he is improving, and the forehand allows him to stay in a lot of points that he probably should not.
9. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic can do so many other things well that people often overlook his forehand. It is not anything too crazy, but it is extremely consistent and underrated. He can hit the ball deep in the courts from pretty much any angle, and it has enough speed on it to penetrate through the court as well.
A lot of these players can hit their forehand well at any time, but Djokovic might be the best on the return of serve with his forehand. He can read the server very well, but he also has great flexibility and balance when returning. His forehand almost looks like a ball machine at times, always hitting his spot in long rallies before trying to open the court up a bit more with something a little more powerful.
8. Kyle Edmund
Edmund might be up and down a bit as a player, but there is no doubt that he has one of the best forehands the game has ever seen. It is the one weapon that he can almost always rely on, and he is an offensive baseline or because of it.
Edmund uses a western forehand that allows him to generate not only plenty of power but spin as well. Many believe that he actually has the best forehand currently in the game, which says a lot considering how many greats are still active. If he can improve the rest of his game, there is a chance he could evolve into a Grand Slam contender.
7. Stefanos Tsitsipas
The youngest player to make this list is Stefanos Tsitsipas, as he has yet to even enter his prime. The Greek standout is looked at by many as a future number one player in the world, and he certainly has the forehand to make that a reality.
Tsitsipas has great size and a fast swing that allows him to put a lot of power behind the forehand. He is very aggressive from the baseline, looking to hit groundstroke winners at any time. He uses his eastern grip to follow up a good serve with a powerful forehand to win a lot
6. Fernando Verdasco
Nadal’s countryman, Fernando Verdasco, has often spent his career in the shadows of the former number one player. However, they are pretty even when looking strictly at forehands. Verdasco approaches his forehand a bit differently, but they both turn it into weapons in their own right.
Verdasco has one of the hardest left-handed forehands in tennis history. He can hit even the best players off the court when dialed in. His best results in major tournaments have always been with his forehand is on point, including that epic semifinals showdown against Nadal in the 2009 Australian Open. He is getting towards the end of his career now, but Verdasco is still a threat with his forehand.
5. Rafael Nadal
To a casual fan, Rafael Nadal might not necessarily be known for a dominant forehand. He has a very unique swing, and it was not exactly a weapon early on in his career. He has since developed it into a shot that has a ton of topspin, and enough speed to keep players honest as well.
Perhaps the most shocking thing is that Nadal is not a natural left-hander. He is hitting a forehand like this with his weak arm, which shows just how much training he has put into the entire process. He can generate as many rotations per minute on his forehand compared to anyone else on tour, which gives players on clay particular fits.
4. Dominic Thiem
It has been a solid rise to the top of the rankings for Dominic Thiem. Still in the prime of his career, he has established himself as a player who can dominate on all surfaces, but specifically on clay. His forehand is built for the surface, as he gets a lot of topspin on shots when he needs to. He can also flatten out the forehand and cause a lot of trouble in that regard as well.
Thiem is very consistent with his forehand, so while he might not have that top-end power, he can wear opponents down. When he needs to, he is also not afraid to use a forehand drop shot to keep his opponents on their toes.
3. Fernando Gonzalez
Many were surprised when Fernando Gonzalez made his way to the Australian Open Final in 2007. How was he able to pull that off? In his prime, he had one of the best forehands the game has ever seen. He could rip the ball faster than just about any player on tour, and it could help him win matches against any opponent.
During that memorable run, the 10th seed was able to take out some very talented players along the way. Against Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of that event, he completely dominated the match which led to a comfortable victory. He eventually ran out of gas against Roger Federer is prime, but there is certainly no shame in doing that.
2. Roger Federer
One of Roger Federer’s go-to weapons throughout his career has been a very reliable forehand. He can hit the ball and put it wherever he wants off of that wing. It has everything that a player could ask for, although it is a bit on the flat side.
As great as his forehand is, he did have to make a change in the middle of his career to keep it consistent. He was notorious for using a pretty small head size by today’s standards, but he switched once he started slowing down to have a little more area to work with on the sweet spot. That has translated very well in the second half of his career.
The older Federer has also developed a pretty wide array of tricks to throw players off with his forehand as well. He has no problem trying a drop shot off the forehand, or chipping the ball in to get to the net. In a game that is more and more played only from the baseline, Federer is comfortable mixing in different looks all based off his forehand.
1. Juan Martin Del Potro
When healthy, Juan Martin del Potro could dominate matches thanks to his powerful forehand. He has more of a flat forehand with plenty of power, and he leverages his height very well. He is not going to be able to hit with a ton of topspin compared to some of the other players on this list, but he has enough net clearance thanks to his height that it does not matter.
The forehand of his allowed him to win the 2009 US Open, running through Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, and Roger Federer in the finals. Not bad for a guy who was outclassed with many other shots from these all-time greats.
Unfortunately, wrist injuries have limited del Potro in recent years, and it seems more and more unlikely that he will find a way to recapture that same level of play as before. During his prime, he developed a forehand that was feared throughout the game.