The Underspin Backhand – Rosewall to Federer

The one handed under spin backhand can be a weapon Ken Rosewall drove his nearly flat under spin backhand with ruthless precision to the corners of the court. “Muscles” as he was called. Steffi Graf knifed her under spin backhand, keeping the ball low to ultimately open up the court for her dominating forehand. And now Roger Federer can come “over or under the ball” (sorry for the tennis jargon) and is able to drive the ball heavily with topspin, or skid the ball low in crosscourt “backhand to backhand” exchanges. At our club we have a few who trust their one handed under spin backhand, but generally this stroke is an after thought, and rarely developed into a weapon. But before we go deeper, anyone who saw the quarterfinal at the Miami Open, Federer vs. Kevin Anderson, must have seen the patience Roger used in prolonging the backhand to backhand exchanges, Roger graceful and knifing he ball, Kevin muscling if not looking awkward in the exchanges. Takeaways and the same goes for Rosewall, Federer or you:

  • Turn to prepare with a bent elbow
  • Whether straight back or with the racquet head high – place your weight on the back foot
  • Initiate the forward action with a shift of weight
  • Stay sideways during the hit (if not well after as we see Roger from above)
  • Develop feel so you can knife, drive, or even drop shot with the same preparation

  And enjoy the author below from about 8 years ago (phew the passage of time!)

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