I’m not kidding. What one change in the game right now would make the game so much better and watchable? I say, “Abolish the 2-handed-backhand.” Anyone who hits a two-handed backhand loses the point. Sounds a little extreme, but tennis has become so much more machine-like and less graceful since the advent of the two-hander.
Think about it, before Connors and then Borg, and then came Harold Solomon, and suddenly the gates opened up and tennis has become so much the worse for this one stroke devolution. It has essentially allowed a player to sit on the baseline and fend off aggressive play. And now the exception has become the norm. No top junior or young American player in this country, at least, even thinks about hitting a one-hander. I tried to watch Andy Murray and Marin Cilic this afternoon, but after a few games I was interminably bored. The same holds true when I try to watch David Ferrer or Berdych or Djokovic. Their games are made so much more machine-like and Groundhog-ish with their two-handed backhands.
I admit, when Connors and Borg first started hitting two-handers with a steel and wood racquet, respectively, their racquet heads the size of cantaloupes, I found it intriguing. “Oh, that’s a novelty, a funny-looking, a bit awkward-looking, way of hitting a ball,” I said. “What a fad. No one will hit a two-hander after the first 5 years or so of this experiment.” Boy, was I ever wrong.
Now I think the two-handed backhand has done more to ruin the game than any other innovation in tennis. I don’t care if you bring up bigger and stronger racquets, the polyester strings or the greater fitness level of players, PED’s, what have you (btw, on a tangent, have you taken a look at the size of Murray and Berdych’s quadriceps? They look like they belong on world-class track sprinters) the worst thing that ever happened to tennis is the two-handed backhand. It has essentially made stalling a good ploy. It has taken such beauty out of the game, the slice approach shot, the whipping top-spin one-hander, the art of volleying.
Who can watch players like Ferrer, Murray, Simon play for long? (At least with Nadal and Del Potro, their forehands are so big it compensates for their mundane two-handers (there’s a bit of intrigue when Nadal hits his backhand because he’s a natural righty.) And to this I’ll add Tsonga, Monfils and Nishikori. Isn’t it more interesting and less-defensive when a player like Haas or Gasquet or Federer or Blake is wielding their one-handers? There’s so much more variety and elan. I could watch Gasquet whip that backhand of his for an entire match. The only guys I(‘ve) ever really enjoy(ed) watching hit two handers for a while are/were Connors, Agassi, Spadea, Santoro, Braasch, Djoko and Fish.
So are you with me? Will you sign my petition to banish the two-handed backhand? It’s ok if a player switches the racquet from his right to left hand when hitting a backhand, making it essentially two forehands, but no more two-handers! We’ll take it to the courts.