Great Shots: Bernard Tomic’s Slice Backhand
Tomic rotates his shoulders and shifts his weight to his outside foot with the right elbow away from his chest.
Tomic prepares early for this slice. He uses a Continental grip, cradles the throat of the racquet with his left hand, turns his shoulders before the ball is even in view, and loads up his weight on his outside foot as he moves for this wide shot. Club players, take note: There’s already some space between his front elbow and his chest. A common way to wreck a slice is to have your hitting elbow too close to your body as you prepare to swing. Keep it a comfortable distance away from you.
He brings his racquet back high above ball level. With his chin near his right shoulder, Tomic can see the ball well.
As Tomic steps into the shot, his racquet is all the way back and well above the height of the ball. Students often ask me how much they should turn their shoulders. Tomic shows you in this photo. His chin almost rests on his right shoulder as he lines up this shot. You should feel a little pull in your shoulder when you take back the racquet. If you don’t, you haven’t turned enough.
Keeping the racquet high, Tomic bends at the knees and begins to drive his weight forward.
This is a perfect image. As Tomic begins to swing, his knees are bent, his shoulders are turned and his eyes are trained on the target. The knuckles on his right hand point toward the sky and his racquet remains high, which will allow him to swing high-to-low and carve through this slice. Tomic pushes down into the court and drives forward.
Swinging from high to low and away from the body, his arm straightens as he releases his left hand.
The swing path on a great slice is almost a semicircle. Tomic’s arm is now straight and he’s swinging from high to low, but he’s also swinging out and away from his body. This straightens the arm and prevents him from opening up his shoulders too soon. He has released the throat of the racquet from his left hand.
Tomic remains focused on the ball while he opens the racquet face as it moves forward.
The racquet face is open; look how low it is compared to where it started. Tomic’s frame is inches from the ground. His arm remains straight and his off arm moves back as his hitting arm moves forward. This is a must for balance, and Tomic is perfectly on balance here. His head remains on the ball.
Remaining low with arms outstretched, he stays balanced as the ball travels over the net.
The ball is long gone now, but Tomic remains low to the ground and his arms are now outstretched, each one all the way back. All his weight is on his front foot as he watches the ball go crosscourt, low and spinning over the lowest part of the net. As slices go, this one is near perfect.
Rick Macci has trained and worked with five players that have reached a No. 1 ranking: Andy Roddick, Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Maria Sharapova.