The High Backhand of Caroline Wozniacki
The young Danish player's two-hander has the look and feel of a left-handed forehand.
1. Wozniacki uses a Continental grip with her dominant right hand, but it's her left hand that merits attention. She uses a semi-Western forehand grip, which indicates how important her left hand will be to this stroke. In many ways, her backhand is like a second forehand: Wozniacki left hand drives through the shot and supplies much of the power, while her right hand guides the racquet. Her backswing is high, much like Kim Clijsters' backswing on her two-hander. You may find, however, that a high take-back disrupts your timing, especially when the ball is coming fast. Consider yourself warned.
2. Wozniacki doesn't hit a traditional two-handed backhand, but she starts her stroke from a traditional closed stance. Club players should set up this way, facing the sideline with their feet parallel to the baseline and their weight loaded and ready to shift forward. I like the slight bend in both of her elbows; she's very relaxed. Her superb shoulder turn will give her a lot of power once she lets loose.
3. She stands a bit upright for my taste, but this is a high ball so it's not too surprising on this particular shot (she would have to step farther inside the court to hit the ball at a lower point). Wozniacki drops the head of her racquet and keeps her eyes on the ball. From the position of her racquet, you can tell that she will hit this shot with plenty of topspin.
4. You see a lot of variety in how pros position their elbows at the point of contact. Lleyton Hewitt, for example, keeps his straight. Wozniacki’s are bent. It’s just a matter of what you’re comfortable with, though it makes sense that Wozniacki has some flex since she uses her left hand to drive through the shot. Her racquet face, open in the last photo, is now closed as she brushes up the back of the ball. Her contact point, in front of her lead leg, is superb. Her eyes come off the ball a little early, which is more common than you might think among the pros.