Like any good tennis fan, we have all wondered which player has the best forehand in tennis history. In the following few lines, we will take a trip into the past and the present to determine the answer to this question.
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Especially as the forehand stroke in tennis is significant. Indeed, the forehand represents almost 70% of the strokes used by the players during a match. This weapon allows the player to lead the point and attack at any moment with power and precision.
Over the years, many players shone thanks to their forehand, often with a specific technique.
If the old generation promotes the quality of Sampras or Stefi Graf’s forehand, our generation will claim the quality of Nadal or Federer’s style! But what about Del Potro or Gonzalez? From the 13th to the 1st position, let’s see the positions of these players and the others, all running for the best forehand of all time award.
The Criteria For Selection
Before having a look at our ranking, let’s define some rules.
- The first thing to admit is the subjectivity of the list, and it’s impossible to objectively measure the quality of this stroke as we have so much information to deal with. But assuming we could, this ranking is built on the following criteria.
- Career achievements of the player, as proof of the success of his forehand.
- The power, the speed of the ball before and after a bounce.
- The accuracy of the stroke, considering impacts and angles found.
- The consistency of the ability to make no mistakes.
- The versatility of the strokes (slice, drop shots, defending, attacking).
- The potential innovation the technique could represent at that time.
Are the rules settled, ready? Go!
Ranking of the Best Forehand in Tennis History From 13th to 1st!
Jo Wilfried Tsonga
Recently retired from his tennis career, the Frenchman has long been called the “successor of Yannick Noah” in his quest for Roland Garros. Unfortunately, he could never win a grand slam while his best ATP ranking was fifth.
But with his great forehand, in 2008, he reached the final of the Australian Open after an outstanding tournament, winning against Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, aged only 22. His forehand was the perfect weapon for his offensive game, always moving forward in the court and using the volley to finish the points.
The ex-tennis player from the United States was the first of a talented United States generation to reach the 1st position in the ATP Ranking. It was in 1992, and he kept it for a total of 58 weeks accumulated before the arrival of his compatriots Agassi and Sampras on top of the world. He looked like a baseball player used to playing a very offensive game using his serve and forehand, combining speed, power, and precision, and playing close to the lines! His forehand could be considered the best, using an innovative technique with a highly spun topspin stroke.
He looked like a baseball player used to playing a very offensive game using his serve and forehand, combining speed, power, and precision, and playing close to the lines! His forehand could be considered the best, using an innovative technique with a highly spun topspin stroke.
“Pistol Pete,” named for the power of his strokes, had a fantastic career thanks to his offensive style of play. It was based on the famous “serve and volley” at that time but also a strong baseline player with an excellent forehand.
He has the particularity to raise his elbow during the backswing. Sampras realized unbelievable shots, particularly running passing shots forehand down the line. He will remain among the best players ever, winning 14 grand slams.
Also known for his innovative serving motion, Roddick also had a great forehand. He used a similar technique to James Blake’s, with a not quite entirely eastern grip and a high elbow flexion at impact. His powerful forehand allowed him to reach four significant finals, win in 2003 US Open, and stay at the top of the ATP ranking for 13 weeks.
Considered “the goat” of Tennis History, Novak Djokovic has appeared in every ranking and list of records for a few years now. His playing style is complete, if the backhand is his best strength he is excellent in every sector of the game.
So is his forehand, not spectacular but efficient. It is very consistent, accurate, and versatile. In attack, he can move his opponent thanks to unique angles and generate massive forehands to make winners. He can push back his opponent in defense, playing deep and hitting splendid passing shots.
The Swedish player had a remarkable, powerful forehand. It’s especially his unique preparation that makes the difference. His backswing was so special, turning his shoulders more than everyone else and taking the racket hand well behind the plane of his chest. Thanks to this huge rotation, he could use a lot of energy and generate a lot of speed. His best win was undoubtedly in 2009 when he became the first player to win against the King of Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal.
The Czech man had a complete style of play, superb physical condition, and a great forehand as his best qualities. He had a tremendous modern technique, hitting quite flat, and could generate many paces by moving his body into the ball. Unfortunately, he could not meet the expectations considering his great technique and stroke. However, after a brilliant season, he still got to play in the Wimbledon final in 2010.
The forehand of Ivan Lendl was, at that time, absolutely the best. Although his backswing started going down, it was an innovative technique for his time. Anyway, it was a really powerful shot with which he could hit winners from the baseline, something not that easy at this period. Moreover, he is also known for his perfect passing shots. His career has been a huge success, with 15 grand slams and staying 1st in the rankings for 270 weeks.
He is the first in this ranking and has the best forehand ever. He was usually called “El bombardero de la reina” meaning “the queen’s bomber,” because, as his nickname suggests, his forehand was an atomic bomb, making the spectators sigh at every gunshot.
He could run around his backhand with great footwork and hit a forehand, sending the ball with pace and a good topspin thanks to a big, round swing. Fernando Gonzalez impressed the world in 2007, reaching the final of the Australian Open and beating Roger Federer in the Master Cup of Shanghai the same year.
The only woman in this ranking, Stefi Graf, had to appear. The German is the youngest player in history to win a match in a major tournament. It was in 1983 at Roland Garros, and she was only 13 years old. It’s even hard to believe it.
This record will be the first of a long series of her fantastic career with 22 Grand Slam wins. Her forehand must be the principal key to her success. While her backhand was her weakness, Stefi, with excellent footwork, was used to turning around it and could hit the ball in every direction with power and precision.
Juan Martin Del Potro
His forehand was a weapon, and I could stay speechless trying to describe something other than fear when talking about his forehand. The efficiency of this stroke was at its best in 2009, when he won the US Open. His forehand is the definition of power. Thanks to his vast levers, Del Potro could generate so much speed and power, hitting the ball with a considerable amplitude of movement.
His stroke was flat and could make winners from every court position. His forehand could be considered the best of all time, too, but regarding his tennis career, he could not achieve what the next two ones did.
What a career, what a forehand, and what a difficult choice to offer Nadal the 2nd position in this ranking. His left-hand forehand describes a lasso swing that imparts massive topspin on the ball, representing the nightmare of his opponents on clay.
His forehand is robust, consistent, accurate, and easily understandable as the best forehand in tennis history. His 14 Roland Garros wins because the quality of his weapon is ideal and excellent in every game sector in the ability to attack and defend. His stroke is a monster and must be the most effective forehand ever.
Finally, I chose Roger Federer as the winner of this ranking because his forehand looks perfect. As I said, even if the one of Nadal looks more efficient, the one of Federer is breathtaking. He hits the ball very early, standing very close to his baseline, and seems able to distribute the ball wherever he wants on the opposite side.
He has the most versatile forehand of all time, creating unrivaled uncertainty for his opponent. It’s mainly the flexibility of his wrist that allows a quick direction change of the ball. Like his best rival Nadal, Federer has a fantastic career with 20 grand slams after an impressive comeback to win the Australian Open in 2018.
A lot of players would have deserved to appear in this ranking. I would like to talk about Serena and Venus Williams, who both had excellent forehands. Also, the following male players: Gael Monfils, Nick Kyrgios, or Stefanos Tsitsipas, could have appeared in this ranking, but given the lack of significant results, I decided not to choose them. Alcaraz will also appear in the next few years, already showing a fantastic forehand at only 19 years old.
Forehands Tennis Players FAQ
Who has the best forehand ever in tennis?
As we said before, giving an objective answer is almost impossible. But from my point of view, Roger Federer has the best forehand of all time, considering the perfection of his technique and the versatility of his shot.
Whose forehand is better, Federer’s or Nadal’s?
Rafael Nadal has probably the most effective forehand of all time, hitting the ball with power, topspin, and depth. But because Federer’s forehand is so spectacular and looks so close to perfection, I would say Roger Federer.
Who has the best two-handed forehand in tennis?
Rare are the tennis players who have played with a two-handed forehand and had a successful career. Fabrice Santoro had a good one in men and could have a great tennis career, especially in doubles. But also, Monica Seles, with an excellent two-handed forehand, had a brilliant career with nine grand slams.
Who has the best forehand in women’s tennis?
Even if Venus and Serena Williams had excellent forehands and fantastic careers, Steffi Graf’s forehand was just out of this world and had, without a doubt, the best forehand in women’s tennis history.
Through this classification, we went back in time and tried to figure out the player with the best forehand of all time. Passing by Ivan Lendl, Steffi Graf, or Del Potro, I finally elected Roger Federer as the winner of this ranking.
Remember, if you are a tennis player with a great forehand, it’s crucial to keep working on it and make your forehand a perfect weapon. As you can see, many of these players achieved fantastic careers thanks to this sophisticated shot.
Finally, remember the subjectivity of this ranking, and don’t hesitate to participate in the debate! From your point of view, who is the player with the best forehand of all time?