The Return of the One-Hander

Matt Cronin

Roger: One handed backhand renaissance?

It wasn't long ago that people thought the one-handed backhand was vanishing in tennis. When Roger Federer won his first major at Wimbledon, back in 2003, it seemed like an aberration. Since then, he's gone on to win 20 Slams, and led a renaissance for the one-hander along the way.

Given that a tiny fraction of upcoming juniors have one handers, how is that so many elite pros have one hand? Not only Federer, but Stan Warinka, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov, Grigor Dimitrov, and Richard Gasquet.

In the 2015 French Open, Warinka stunned Federer, winning the backhand versus backhand contest.

Dimitrov, has won the ATP Finals and reached the top three. Tsitsipas has also won the ATP Finals and an ATP Masters and beat Nadal at the Australian.

Thiem, won the US Open. His original coach Gunter Bresnik actually changed him from two hands to one-hand early in his junior career. For an interview in which Bresnik talks about the switch, Click Here.)

Shapovalov is in the top 15. He lost to Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi, but exchanged balls beautifully with the eventual winner off his backhand side.

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In 1980 John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg played two of the greatest matches of all time in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open finals, both won by McEnroe, catalyzing Borg's disappearance from the game. In Epic, Matt Cronin, one the world's most respected tennis writers, and a regular contributor, tells the stories of the two legendary careers that lead up those confrontations - as well as recounting the matches themselves. We're excerpting the start of both stories on Tennisplayer - the young Borg and the young McEnroe. Get Matt's book and read the rest!

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Matthew Cronin, founder of, is one of the most prolific and insightful journalists working in the sport of tennis. Matt has covered men's and women's pro tennis for the past fifteen years, traveling the world to develop his unique first hand perspective on every aspect of the game. Matt is a regular contributor to Reuters, has written extensively for the official Grand Slam web sites, and did play-by-play on the first web radio broadcast of the US Open finals. A former co-president of the International Tennis Writers Association, Cronin resides in Moraga, Calif., USA, with his wife, Patti, and their children, Cassandra, Connor and Chiara.

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