Start Of An Era: The One-Handed Backhand Is Back In The Top 10

Start Of An Era: The One-Handed Backhand Is Back In The Top 10

by Nurein Ahmed

Last month, there was fear within the tennis fraternity that the one-handed backhand was becoming an extinct shot.

On February 19th, 2024, the ATP rankings did not have a single player with a one-handed backhand. Since the rankings officially took effect for the first time half a century ago, that had never happened.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has helped preserve that record since 2021, left the Top 10 club for the first time since 2019 after a modest start to the new season.

Before him, Swiss legend Roger Federer is famed for possessing one of the most elegant single-handers in the sport. Players with the shot are called master tacticians because they learn to improvise. Ostensibly, players using a single-hander are often regarded as being more vulnerable to defense.

That theory is not necessarily true because 11 of the 28 men who have reached the World No. 1 ranking have a one-handed backhand. However, because one-handed backhands involve many intricacies, their uptake in tennis academies has been significantly low.

This has prompted a case study on whether the shot is becoming a dying art. Not for now, though, at least on the ATP tour, because the unwanted record has lasted just a few weeks.

On Monday, April 1st, Grigor Dimitrov—who plays with a single-hander—will mark his return into the world's Top 10 thanks to his sizzling run to the Miami Open final.

The Bulgarian defeated three Top 10 players in Florida, including a stunning upset in the quartefinal when he took out World No. 2 Carlos Alcaaz to reach his third Masters 1000 final.

Regardless of the final outcome against Jannik Sinner, the 32-year-old will celebrate a place in the ATP's elite for the first time since 2018. And maybe it wasn't the end of an era, but the start of possibly a new one.


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