Tsitsipas without half measures: "Without me, no more one-handed backhands"

The Greek talked about his backhand and the legacy it brings with it

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Tsitsipas without half measures: "Without me, no more one-handed backhands"
© Cameron Spencer / Staff Getty Images Sport

A new page of tennis history. For better or worse, it depends on your point of view. But a historic change occurred a month ago, which testifies to how tennis is evolving in a very specific direction.

Since the ATP rankings were showed up for the first time, there has been no player with a one-handed backhand in the Top-10. Today, just like a few weeks ago, no tennis player with this shot is among the top 10 players on the planet.

A shot on which the history of tennis has been built since its inception. The one-handed backhand has been supplanted (permanently it seems) by the two-handed backhand.

Two-handed backhand born in the 1930s, but rarely used among both amateurs and professionals. At least until the 70s. The real revolution then came with Bjorn Borg, who founded his career and his successes precisely on his peculiar two-handed backhand. From there the first studies on how to best perform this shot were born.

Not just Borg in fact. His rival Jimmy Connors also habitually used a two-handed backhand, and Connors himself will be the first ATP No.1 with a two-handed backhand. It was an epochal change for tennis. The beginning of the end, for purists of the Game, who had to get used to seeing the first ungainly two-handed backhands triumph on the sacred garden of Wimbledon.

Nick Bollettieri Academy tennis players like André Agassi and Jim Courier were all two-handed backhanders. A few exceptions remained

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas© Cameron Spencer / Staff Getty Images Sport

Is the farewell of the one-handed backhand close? Tsitsipas answerd this question

Roger Federer, the last great champion who used the one-handed backhand, has now retired in 2022. Stan Wawrinka, another great interpreter of this shot, is out of the top-10 and close to his professional horizon. Dominic Thiem is far from the best in the world due to a serious wrist injury that has been affecting him for three years now.

Stefanos Tsitsipas remains, but he finished outside the top-10 of the ATP ranking. This taboo has also been dispelled due to his drop in the rankings.

The Greek, always highly appreciated for the beauty of his shots, which nevertheless allowed him to achieve notable results such as winning the ATP Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo twice, or reaching the final at the Australian Open and the Roland Garros, tried to explain the reasons for this radical change.

"If I had to start playing tennis again and choose between a one-handed or two-handed backhand, I would still choose the one-handed backhand.
I feel like one of those players who carries on the legacy of the one-handed backhand.

If I wasn't there, if Grigor Dimitrov wasn't there, if Lorenzo Musetti wasn't there, if Richard Gasquet wasn't there, you would hardly see this shot on the Tour. It's an old school shot, something that was played back then, but now it's modern," explained Tsitsipas.

The former ATP no.3 thinks that this shot could soon come back into fashion.

"It has evolved into a modern shot that looks nothing like the one from hundreds of years ago. I think that in the future more and more kids will decide to play the one-handed backhand and we could see it again at a high level, perhaps even many players will soon play it among the top 10," he concluded.

Meanwhile Tsitsipas will be involved tonight in the match valid for the round of 16 of final in Indian Wells against the Czech Jiri Lehecka.

A few days ago, in Acapulco, the Greek champion made interesting statements about his goals for 2024, underlining how his ambition is to win a Slam title.

"The maximum ambition for 2024 would be a Slam title and an ATP Masters 1000 trophy. I would also like to see myself with an Olympic medal of any metal in Paris. And thinking about it now, I would probably reduce the pace and play fewer matches at that time. As long as my body is healthy and I'm willing to go out there and give 100% every time, I don't see any reason to stop or consider playing less," he analyzed.

We remember Tsistipas, in Acapulco, has decided to donate 1,000 dollars for each ace scored during the ATP 500 tournament. This amount will be donated to those involved in the recovery programs of the city heavily affected by Hurricane Otis.