It’s always interesting to hear the top tennis players give their opinion on the greatest forehands in the game. There are some incredible forehands out there and obviously Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer rate highly. And what about Juan Martin del Potro? However, in my opinion the greatest pound for pound forehand of modern times comes from Fernando Gonzalez. He could hit a winner from anywhere on the tennis court at any time. But his forehand wasn’t just a one dimensional flat power slap, it has a degree of fineness and versatility that’s rarely appreciated.
When Fernando Gonzalez retired in 2012, the Chilean with the atomic forehand made the tennis circuit just a little less interesting. In a world of much the same type and style of tennis, Gonzalez stood out as a tennis player who’s forehand was so amazing he made me shake my head in amazement. He was a player I enjoyed watching.
One of the most thrilling tennis matches I have seen was watching Fernando Gonzalez play Andy Roddick on a cool Melbourne night at the Australian Open. Roddick was desperately trying to get the ball to the Gonzales backhand but just couldn’t get it there consistently. It was only Roddick’s powerful serve that got him through in the end. It was a great match and I remember laughing out loud after some of the ridiculous forehands Fernando Gonzalez was pulling off.
For essentially being a one trick pony, Fernando Gonzalez did incredibly well in his tennis career. A Grand Slam final and a top 10 ranking is an amazing achievement. So How did Gonzalez do it?
The Genius of Gonzalez
Fernando Gonzalez forged his forehand on the slippery clay as a junior. Realising his strengths early, he built the rest of his tennis game around his atomic bomb of a forehand. Instead of focusing on his weaknesses, Gonzalez focused on perfecting his forehand and footwork. His quick feet and speed enabled him to run around his backhand to hit a forehand from almost anywhere.
When Gonzalez had time his swing was big and round, other times when the ball was coming fast at him, he shortened the backswing. But whatever the swing, his biomechanically solid technique generated phenomenal racket speed which produced a superb amount of pace and spin when necessary.
Once Fernando Gonzalez had a weapon his opponents feared he turned his attention on fixing his backhand, the obvious weakness in his game. Over the course of his career, his backhand developed into a very solid shot. His strong backhand combined with his improved volleys quickly made him a real threat to the top players in the world.
Takeaway: Focus on Your Strength
The key takeaway from this is to focus on your strengths first. Develop your weapon of choice early and work on your weaknesses after. In other words, find what you’re already good at and double down on it. Remember, maximising your strength will, to a degree, compensate for your weakness.
Do a quick YouTube search and watch this beast of a in action and you’ll see why I think this is the best forehand in modern tennis. Am I exaggerating? Maybe a tad but only a tad:)
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