Richard Gasquet’s victory over Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon 1/4 final showed the world what a fantastic player he is and what an awesome backhand he possesses. Gasquet was an unbelievable talent waiting to ignite at any time and unfortunately for Roddick, it was the Wimbledon 1/4 final 2007.
At times Roddick was looking up at his coach Jimmy Connors in sheer despair, as yet another backhand down-the-line ripped passed him at a ridiculous speed. Gasquet was on fire and as a result, was almost hitting winners at will.
The shot that had the spectators literally gasping was his single-handed topspin backhand – so let’s take a look.
Gasquet’s backhand is typical of the way the modern-day single-handed topspin shot is evolving. Very high preparation at full backswing, looping around and down before contact. This is more prevalent in today’s game – though his shot is still extreme.
The high take-back has evolved as a result of some players trying to squeeze a little more power out of their shot. We used to see it on balls bouncing around head height – but more and more we see it on general backhands too. I was really interested to see at this year’s French Open, how high some of the South Americans were preparing for the shot.
As youngsters, we were told not to prepare too high as this would cause problems – and the high take-back technique is not something I would readily recommend to club standard players, as perfecting this involves impeccable timing. The images of Gasquet above show how far his racket needs to drop from full preparation to below the ball position. This timing is not for the faint-hearted and if not executed perfectly, will lead to a late struck, handcuffed shot.
Gasquet further complements his backhand with excellent shoulder turn, great knee bend, perfect use of his non-racket arm and a spot on striking position.
Take a look and savour it!