Since it is frequently utilized during most ball exchanges, the backhand stroke is crucial in tennis. The backhand stroke is performed by striking the ball with the opposite arm from the dominant one; for example, a right-handed player would execute his backhand stroke with the left arm.
The backhand stroke, in particular, can be executed with one or two hands, depending on the player’s preference. However, generally speaking, players who prefer more excellent stability and power in their stroke tend to favor the two-handed backhand stroke.
In contrast, male players (since almost no active female players have one) who prefer greater accuracy and ability to produce wins tend to favor the one-handed backhand stroke.
Furthermore, the importance of the backhand lies in its ability to allow the player to keep the ball in play and build his points from there. It is a basic stroke to neutralize the opponent’s shots, defending and attacking when the opportunity arises. So, it is fair to say that this blow is a fundamental aspect of a tennis player’s technique, and your ability to execute it effectively can determine your success on the court.
Moreover, considering the importance of the backhand stroke in tennis and its fundamental role in the game, it is interesting to analyze the tennis players who have stood out for their skill and mastery in the execution of this particular strike. Throughout the history of tennis, there have been players who have stood out for their ability to master this blow, which not everybody can do.
Selecting the top players with the best backhands ever is complex and partially subjective. Several factors must be considered, such as power, accuracy, versatility, and innovation. These criteria help to evaluate the effectiveness and uniqueness of a player’s backhand stroke and its impact on their career.
First, power is among the most critical factors when evaluating a backhand. A powerful backhand can hit winners and keep opponents on the defensive. In addition, accuracy is also vital, as a backhand that consistently lands in the intended spot can create opportunities to attack and control points at the player’s desire.
Moreover, versatility is another relevant factor because a player with a versatile backhand can hit various shots, including slice, topspin, and flat, and adjust to different opponents and court surfaces. This adaptability can make a player’s backhand a formidable weapon.
Innovation is also a significant criterion when evaluating how good certain backhands are. Players who have developed new techniques or variations of the backhand, such as the one-handed backhand or the inside-out backhand, have significantly impacted the game of tennis, as happened with Roger Federer.
Ultimately, selecting the top players with the best backhands is subjective and can vary depending on personal preferences and opinions. However, evaluating a series of players’ power, accuracy, versatility, and innovation can provide a framework for determining the impact and effectiveness of their backhands.
Therefore, we present the 13 tennis players we consider to have the best backhand strokes in tennis history, both in the men’s and women’s games.
Honorable Mentions: David Nalbandian & Richard Gasquet
David Nalbandian used his two-handed backhand, which was solid and reliable, to significant effect throughout his career. His backhand was undoubtedly a weapon to be reckoned with, even though he did not enjoy the same success as some of the other players we will encounter on this list.
He was noted for his flat, powerful backhand, which he frequently used to score points down the line or across the court and helped him win essential titles such as the Madrid Masters 1000.
One of the most visually attractive strokes in tennis is Richard Gasquet’s one-handed backhand, which is also very precise. Richard stood out from a very young age, having a rivalry with Nadal during his adolescence, where he could already show off his backhand with sufficiency and efficiency. As a result of Gasquet’s diverse and influential backhand, which let him hit with topspin or slice, he was well-known for his control and dexterity while using it.
The best backhand in women’s tennis is now credited to Simona Halep. This statement is due, in part, to the technique she employs, which enables her to produce a lot of power and control.
Halep is renowned for her backhand, which has a rapid swing, a smooth follow-through, and much topspin. She can also hit this shot down the line with exceptional accuracy and precision, which can be a challenging stroke to perform.
In her tennis career, Halep has relied heavily on her backhand to win several victories, including two Grand Slam singles at the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019. Her backhand has been incredibly influential on clay courts, where her topspin can bounce high and make it difficult for opponents to return.
The versatility of Halep’s backhand, which she can employ when defending and attacking, is another factor contributing to its reputation as an impressive weapon. She can win with a strong topspin or a reliable defensive slice backhand.
Her opponents find it challenging to predict her next shot due to her variety, providing her an advantage on the court.
Due to its natural and fluid action, Gustavo Kuerten’s backhand was among the most admired in tennis history. The one-handed backhand of the Brazilian player was renowned for its effortless power, accuracy, and adaptability. Given his impeccable timing and technique, Kuerten could generate considerable power with such little apparent effort, which made his backhand special.
He was also incredibly versatile with his backhand, smashing the ball flat, with slice, or with topspin, depending on the circumstance.
Kuerten’s backhand stroke was essential throughout his tennis career, winning numerous championships and enjoying considerable success. This particular shot was a key component of his game, and he could use it to control the action and put his rivals on the defensive. His backhand helped him win his first French Open title in 1997. To accomplish this, he had to upset three straight-past champions who were all considered superior to him at the time. After winning two other French Open crowns in 2000 and 2001, Kuerten relied heavily on his backhand, solidifying his status as one of the greatest clay court tennis players ever.
Among the most esteemed backhands in tennis history is Stefan Edberg’s blow. It is frequently recognized as one of the most technically flawless and visually appealing backhands ever seen on a court. Thanks to his backhand’s fluidity and effortless power, Edberg could strike winners and acute angles from any court region. This stroke was mighty when shot down the line, frequently forcing his opponents to make a last-ditch effort to return the ball.
Thanks to his backhand’s fluidity and effortless power, Edberg could strike winners and acute angles from any court region. This stroke was mighty when shot down the line, frequently forcing his opponents to make a last-ditch effort to return the ball.
With the aid of his backhand, Edberg was able to win six Grand Slam singles championships and get to the top of the world rankings. That was a crucial component of his all-court strategy, enabling him to pose a danger on any court. The backhand of Edberg was also noted for its reliability and steadiness, rarely failing under stress. He could compete at the highest level for many years and hold his position as one of the best players of his time.
The ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award is awarded annually to the tennis player with the finest on-court behavior during the season. The award is named after Stefan Edberg, a former Swedish tennis player recognized for his exceptional on-court behavior and for being a real gentleman of the game.
The award is decided by fellow tour players, which makes it even more remarkable because players are the ones who are most familiar with their teammates’ attitudes and behaviors on the court. The winner receives a trophy named after Stefan Edberg and a charitable gift to their chosen foundation.
Andre Agassi’s backhand stroke is one of the most recognized strokes in tennis history. The American player executed his backhand with two hands, which enabled him to generate tremendous power and control in the shot.
One of the most outstanding aspects of this blow was its consistency, which allowed him to keep the ball in play for lengthy exchanges and wear down his opponents.
In addition to its consistency, Agassi’s backhand was also impressive for its ability to generate angles and changes of direction on the ball, which made it especially effective in offensive situations. Agassi’s backhand could generate speed and depth, which allowed him to dictate the pace of the match and keep his opponents under constant pressure.
Partially thanks to his backhand, Agassi went on to achieve an impressive professional tennis career, winning 60 singles titles, including 8 Grand Slams. Furthermore, in 1995, Agassi reached the number 1 spot in the ATP world ranking for the first time and held it for 101 weeks.
Rafael Nadal’s backhand is excellent, but his strong forehand frequently overshadows his other shots. Nadal’s capacity to produce perfect topspin, which enables him to hit the ball with force and control, makes his backhand effective.
Nadal can blast his backhand down the line or across the court while still defending effectively under pressure due to its versatility. The flexibility of Nadal’s backhand is one of its many strengths. The Spanish legend can use his backhand to execute a variety of shots, including topspin, slice, and, when the occasion demands it, a clean, offensive stroke.
Given the unpredictability of his backhand shots, he can keep his opponents guessing and on the back foot.
Nadal’s exceptional footwork contributes to the strength of his backhand in addition to other factors. No matter where the ball is on the court, Nadal can position himself for a backhand shot. He moves into position quickly and fluidly, enabling him to hit his backhand with strength and precision. Furthermore, thanks to his backhand, the Spanish legend has seen great success in his tennis career. Even when he is on the defensive, he can counterpunch his opponents and keep control of rallies because of his backhand. Nadal has won 22 Grand Slam titles, 36 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, and two Olympic gold medals in singles and doubles competitions because of his powerful and reliable backhand. With 14 French Open victories, his backhand has also enabled him to surpass all other players on clay courts.
Ivan Lendl’s backhand stroke is among tennis’s most influential and formidable. The Czech American, who used a one-handed backhand, had a flat and aggressive shot, which allowed him to generate a lot of speed and power on the ball.
Despite his unconventional technique, Lendl’s backhand stood out for its accuracy and reliability, which allowed him to keep the ball in play for lengthy exchanges and wear down his opponents. Besides its power and reliability, his backhand blow was also characterized by its versatility. He could execute this shot in defensive and offensive situations and easily change the ball’s direction, angle, and speed.
His backhand blow was especially effective on fast and hard courts, where he could generate a low bounce and make the ball travel with even greater speed.
We should also emphasize that partially thanks to his backhand, Ivan Lendl achieved an impressive professional tennis career, winning 94 singles titles, including 8 Grand Slam titles. In 1985, Lendl reached number 1 in the ATP world ranking for the first time in his career and held it for 270 weeks, becoming one of the most successful players of the 1980s.
One of the most powerful backhands in women’s tennis history belonged to Steffi Graf. The German legend used two hands to shoot quickly and accurately on her backhand. Furthermore, this blow was essential to her game and greatly influenced her successful career.
Graf’s backhand was a recurring tool she employed to attack and put her rivals on the back foot.
It was challenging for her competitors to return her shots due to her exceptional skill in hitting the tennis ball flat and complicatedly. Moreover, her strokes while hitting the backhand were accurate, and she made a few mistakes with this blow.
With such a powerful weapon, the former German player won 22 Grand Slam titles and held the world No. 1 ranking for 377 weeks, the third-longest in history. During the 1980s and 1990s, she was a dominant force in women’s tennis thanks to her ability to hit a robust and reliable backhand.
Graf won many more trophies in addition to her achievements in Grand Slam competitions, such as Olympic gold medals, WTA Championships, and Fed Cup. She accomplished these feats thanks to her backhand, an essential game component.
Many regard Roger Federer’s backhand as one of tennis’s most graceful and technically impressive shots. Unlike many players, Federer used to play with a one-handed backhand, which enabled him to generate more power and variety in his shot selection.
In addition, Federer’s backhand was notable for its fluid, effortless-looking swing, which belies the power and accuracy he could generate with the shot.
His famous backhand is also known for its versatility, with Federer able to hit the ball down the line, cross-court, and with topspin or slice, making it difficult for opponents to anticipate his next move and causing them confusion.
Besides, the Swiss player’s use of the one-handed backhand has been crucial to his success throughout his career, allowing him to hit winners from all areas of the court and compete effectively on clay, grass, and hard courts. His backhand has been crucial in his most significant achievements, including his record-breaking 20 Grand Slam singles and five consecutive US Open titles.
Perhaps most impressively, Federer’s backhand allowed him to remain competitive and successful even as he aged. While many tennis players struggle to maintain their form as they age, Federer’s smooth, fluid technique and ability to mix up his shots enabled him to continue winning titles well into his late thirties.
Overall, Roger Federer’s one-handed backhand was a testament to his technical prowess and natural talent as a tennis player. Its versatility, precision, and power helped him achieve some of the most significant accomplishments in this sport’s history. It remained one of the defining elements of his game before he retired in September 2022.
Perhaps Bjorn Borg’s most potent shot was his backhand, which contributed significantly to his success as a tennis player. Borg was renowned for his extraordinary topspin skills, which let him produce force and accuracy with his backhand.
With excellent control and accuracy, Borg used two hands to execute this shot, and he could also implement a small swing that enabled him to put much spin on the tennis ball, making it challenging for his rivals to return.
The former Swedish player’s shots with this stroke were also incredibly reliable, and Bjorn rarely made mistakes leading to unforced errors.
Throughout his career, Borg’s backhand was a vital tool he employed to outplay opponents and claim plenty of trophies. He amassed 11 Grand Slam titles, including five straight Wimbledon crowns, which remains a record. His strong backhand, which let him make powerful passing strokes and keep control of the court, contributed to his success on clay and grass.
Ultimately, Bjorn Borg’s backhand was a crucial tool that enabled him to outplay his rivals and rise to the top of the tennis world. Power, accuracy, and consistency were essential to his success, and he still serves as an example for many young players today.
Pete Sampras’ one-handed backhand was one of the most distinctive shots in tennis, and it played a crucial role in his success as a player. Renowned for its power, accuracy, and consistency, Sampras’ backhand was an incredible weapon that allowed him to dominate opponents and win 14 Grand Slam titles, including seven Wimbledon championships.
Sampras’ backhand stroke was notable for its smooth, compact swing, which enabled him to generate significant power and control.
His excellent footwork and court positioning also allowed him to hit the shot with greater accuracy and consistency, making it challenging for opponents to return.
Additionally, his backhand was particularly influential on fast surfaces like grass and hard courts, where Sampras excelled. Its power and precision enabled him to hit winners down the line and cross-court, dictating play and controlling the court.
In addition to his Grand Slam success, Sampras also won five year-end Masters titles and numerous others throughout his career. His one-handed backhand was a key component of his game, and its effectiveness was essential to his ability to dominate opponents and achieve all of these accomplishments.
Without question, Serena Williams’ backhand is one of tennis’ most lethal and successful shots. Her two-handed backhand is a deadly weapon on the court, with remarkable speed and accuracy. Williams’s ability to strike the ball with a lot of topspin, which enables the ball to dip rapidly over the net and stay within the court, is one of the reasons her backhand and overall game are so successful. Her opponents need help predicting the ball’s trajectory and making a solid return because of the significant topspin.
The American’s backhand has also been a critical component in several of her tennis triumphs.
Williams holds the Open Era record for most Grand Slam singles victories, with 23 during her career. In addition, she has four Olympic gold medals and 14 Grand Slam doubles crowns. Williams has dominated all court types, including clay, grass, and hard courts, thanks to her backhand.
Serena’s backhand is one of a kind because she can hit it hard and precisely, even when she is off balance or spread out wide. She can strike winners from virtually everywhere on the court, thanks to her swift racket head. Moreover, she can consistently hit her backhand under pressure, an essential quality for any top player.
To sum up, Serena Williams’ backhand is among tennis’s most stunning shots.
She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and countless other honors on the court, thanks to her strength, precision, reliability, and endurance. Williams’ backhand clearly indicates her talent and commitment as a tennis player.
Stan Wawrinka’s backhand is one of the most fearsome in the men’s tennis circuit. His technique and consistency characterize it, allowing him to control the ball and keep his opponents in constant motion. Wawrinka executes his backhand one-handed, enabling him to generate tremendous power and control in the stroke. He is considered, by many, as the current best one-handed backhand in tennis.
Furthermore, one of the particularities of this stroke is his ability to hit at tight angles, creating spaces in the court and making his opponents move to uncomfortable places, which can generate unforced errors in his opponents.
His backhand is especially effective in offensive situations, where he can hit hard and deep from anywhere on the court.
The Swiss player can hit flat shots with a heavy degree of spin, which allows him to control the ball and keep his opponents in constant motion. In addition, his backhand can change the match’s pace and generate errors in the opponent, allowing him to win points quickly and effectively.
So, Stan’s backhand shot is a potent tool in his arsenal, allowing him to create points through power and precision. His technique, strength, and ability to change the match’s pace make him a dangerous player in any situation on the court and have greatly helped in his ATP career.
Novak Djokovic, one of the greatest tennis players ever, has a modern two-handed backhand stroke that stands out for its speed, technique, and versatility. Thanks to his ability with this stroke, Djokovic has been able to control the pace of the match, neutralize his opponent’s shots, and build points from there.
One of the greatest tennis players of all time, Novak Djokovic, has a two-handed backhand stroke that stands out for its speed, technique, and adaptability. Because of his capacity with this stroke, Djokovic has had the option to control the speed of the match, kill his adversary’s shots, and construct focus from that point.
Considering how much trouble Novak can create with this shot, many tennis experts state that the Serbian’s backhand is the best of all time.
Djokovic’s backhand gives him power and control in a single stroke, which makes him great in defensive situations, where he can defend against the opponent’s attacks and return the ball with accuracy and depth. He also has more control over his shots and a more considerable margin of error thanks to his ability to generate spin on the backhand.
The Serbian player can use this shot for a spin, flat, or even defensive blows anywhere on the court. Moreover, he can exploit his opponent’s weaknesses and adapt to various playing styles because of his versatility.
That is why Novak’s backhand is one of his most potent weapons and has been crucial to his sporting success. Thanks to his skill with this stroke, Djokovic has proven to be one of the most complete and versatile tennis players in history. He has contributed significantly to staying at the top of tennis for several years.
In summary, the backhand is a crucial stroke in tennis, and players proficient in it will have an advantage on the court. There have been some fantastic backhands in tennis history that have astounded onlookers. Each player has shown off a distinct style and efficacy with their backhand, from the accuracy of Agassi’s two-handed backhand to the adaptability of Federer’s one-handed backhand.
Novak Djokovic is one player that stands out from the others. Djokovic’s two-handed backhand is beautiful and regarded as the finest backhand in tennis history. He may use it to control his rival’s action, score goals, and block shots. On top of being solid and precise, Djokovic’s backhand is flexible since he can hit it down the line, across the court, or with spin.
The other 12 tennis players on this list have also impacted the sport, even if Djokovic’s backhand may be considered the best of all time. The backhand of every player was essential to their performance on the court and was a significant factor in their successes. These backhands demonstrate the beauty and variety of tennis, from Borg’s accuracy and Kuerten’s distinctive style to Serena’s strength and Gasquet’s elegance.