Federer on his one-hander: ‘It all starts with the footwork’

Sunday, January 19, 2014 /by
AP Photo
AP Photo

Roger Federer discusses why he has had so much success with a one-handed backhand, which has become an increasingly rare shot in recent years. Federer is one of three members of the Top 10 to hit a one-hander, including fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka and France’s Richard Gasquet.

“Clearly it all starts with the footwork,” said Federer, who will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round of the Australian Open. “Without footwork you aren't going to be able to hit a backhand or you're going to be stretched so much you're not going to be able to hit one. You've just got to be able to react. Important is to set yourself up that you have multiple options and you're most dangerous for your opponent. I think it's important to not always hit it in the same spot -- you can disguise it to some degree, but what you want to be able to do is show your opponent that you can hit it all, so when it gets important he doesn't know where it's going to go. Then with me, I can manage with a slice and then the topspin and the flat backhand. I try to mix it up as much as I can. But at the same time, I also need to be able to just make enough in a row just for consistency and also for my confidence.

Federer added that his new coaching consultant, former six-time Grand Slam champion Stefan Edberg, has some good tips on how to strike a one-hander. The Swede's one-handed backhand was considered better than his forehand.

“Just staying aggressive with the footwork, not sort of leaning back too much, not getting too passive on it, because you can have tendency to do that with a one-handed backhand because you can bail out and go to the slice. I know everybody can, but a double-hander usually doesn't. The one-hander, it's so natural for us to play the slice that you almost have to tell yourself to always stay on the front foot and play aggressive. On a quicker court like here it's definitely one thing you want to do.”

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