Steve Flink

Who Has The Greatest Backhand Volley of All Time?

Social media is a popular venue for discussions – and arguments – and one that has gone around is who has the best backhand volley of all time? Steve Flink, in his book “THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME” ($28.95, New Chapter Press, available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257936/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_SIRbBbB48F1H1) rated Stefan Edberg and Martina Navratilova as having the best backhand volley of all time by men and women, respectively.

The backhand volley rankings are as follows.

BACKHAND VOLLEY
Men

1. STEFAN EDBERG The Swede was his era’s best at the net, by a considerable margin. He was the quintessential serve-and-volleyer, with a heavy kick serve designed to allow Edberg to get exceedingly close to the net for his first volley. His forehand volley was awfully good, but his backhand volley was stupendous. Edberg was supremely confident on the backhand volley, which he could “stick” better than anyone. Either high or low on the backhand volley, Edberg always had all of the answers, displaying finesse, precision and the capacity to put it away whenever possible.

2. TONY ROCHE The formidable Australian’s backhand volley was virtually on a par with Edberg’s—some would say that Roche’s was even better. His shoulder turn and soundness were his enduring virtues as a player. No one wanted to allow Roche to hit that backhand volley if they had a choice because he invariably would keep the low ones deep and put the high ones away emphatically. Roche played the backhand volley with clinical efficiency.

3. KEN ROSEWALL While the understated Australian was more revered in some circles for his backhand ground stroke, the fact remains that his backhand volley was every bit as impressive. Rosewall altered his game when he left the amateur ranks and turned pro, realizing he had to approach the net more frequently. Once that change occurred, Rosewall put his stellar backhand volley on display with growing assurance. It was ineffably good.

4. ROD LAVER The two-time winner of the Grand Slam was spectacularly versatile, capable of taking his place alongside any of the great shot makers of all time. But I believe no one gave him the plaudits he deserved for his backhand volley. This deeply humble left-hander had good feel and great control on that side and he never wavered when he was set up for a backhand volley.

5. PETE SAMPRAS Over the second half of his career, the American became more committed to following his second serve in at almost all times. Sampras made serious strides in his ability to volley with the best in his business. He had a very good forehand volley as well, but his backhand volley was outstanding. Even when he was stretched out or reaching down to his shoelaces, he would make even the toughest backhand volleys look remarkably easy.

BACKHAND VOLLEY
Women
1. MARTINA NAVRATILOVA This outstanding left hander’s athleticism was displayed most convincingly when she was stationed up at the net. Her speed and anticipation was second to none and her long reach on the backhand volley was phenomenal. It seemed almost impossible to get a ball by her on that side. Navratilova could not only pound her volleys for winners at sharp angles but also could use her touch for some astounding drop volleys.

2. BILLIE JEAN KING Her technique and flair on the backhand volley was comparable to Navratilova’s. King had a much better backhand than forehand off the ground. On the volley she was highly skilled off both sides, but her backhand volley was more of a weapon. She would knife it away with total conviction, go down the line as well as crosscourt and her footwork and forward movement was outstanding.

3. EVONNE GOOLAGONG Goolagong was very comfortable at the net, relishing the challenge to end points with her dazzling athleticism and staggering grace. Goolagong’s backhand volley was awesome. Navratilova and King were more adept at making the low volley in many ways, but Goolagong was the best on high backhand volleys and backhand overheads. She would leave audiences gasping when she played that shot.

4. MARIA BUENO The Brazilian’s elegance and grace were reminiscent of Goolagong. This fierce competitor hit a heavy ball off the ground, but her forte was the volley. Bueno had wonderful touch and vision at the net, which made her such an estimable grass court player. She knew exactly what to do with the backhand volley and had one of the best ever.

5. VIRGINIA WADE The winner of three singles majors on grass courts—including Wimbledon in 1977—Wade possessed a terrific first serve. It was among the most potent of her time and she followed it in persistently. Up at the net, she was comfortable and usually in command, exhibiting very good lateral movement. Her backhand volley was first rate. Wade could knife that shot crosscourt with extraordinary regularity.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the 1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink also includes a fascinating “greatest strokes of all-time” section where he ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years. Other champions featured in the book include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf among many others.

The book is published by New Chapter Press, the premier global publisher of tennis books.
Flink, one of the most respected writers and observers in the game, is currently a columnist for TennisChannel.com. A resident of Katonah, N.Y., he is the former editor of World Tennis magazine and a former senior columnist at Tennis Week.

The book has received high praise from some of the most respected names in the sport, including Chris Evert, a winner of 18 major singles titles in her career, who wrote the foreword to the book.

Said seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, “Steve Flink was there reporting on almost every big match I played in my career. He has seen all of the great players for the last 45 years. I encourage you to read this book because Steve is one of the most insightful writers on the game that I have known and he really knows his tennis.”
Said former U.S. Davis Cup captain and player Patrick McEnroe, “As a writer and a fan, Steve Flink’s knowledge of tennis history and his love of the sport are second to none, which is why you should read his book.”

Said ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, “To see tennis through the eyes of Steve Flink is to wander through a wonderland. These are not fantasies because Steve captures the essence of tennis matches in graphic detail. There is no one more passionate or caring about his subject. In this absorbing book, I can relive matches that I have called on television.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Trojan Tennis: The Storied History of the Men’s Tennis Program at the University of Southern California” by S. Mark Young, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion: The Full Extraordinary Story” by Mark Hodgkinson, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Sport of a Lifetime” by Judy Aydelott, “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” by Rick Macci with Jim Martz, “Absolute Tennis: The Best And Next Way To Play The Game” by Marty Smith, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com), “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Court Confidential: Inside The World Of Tennis” by Neil Harman, “A Backhanded Gift” by Marshall Jon Fisher, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “Internet Dating 101: It’s Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have To Be” by Laura Schreffler, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “Bone Appetit: Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Suzan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.

The 10 Greatest Wimbledon Matches of All Time

With Wimbledon upon us, it’s fun to get nostalgic looking back at the greatest matches of all time from the greatest tournament in tennis. In his book “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” (for sale here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257936/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_J0GGvb1GB6WV8) author Steve Flink describes the greatest tennis matches of not just Wimbledon, but in the history of the sport, and ranks the matches in order of their significance. The following is the Flink’s rankings of the greatest Wimbledon matches of all time as they appear in his book. Here is the list, in order, of the greatest tennis matches in Wimbledon history, with their respective “all-time” ranking on the left.

1. (No. 1 All-Time) Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-7 (9), 9-7, final, Wimbledon, grass, 2008

2. (No. 2 All-Time) Bjorn Borg d. John McEnroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18) 8-6, final, Wimbledon grass, 1980

3. (No. 8 All-Time) Pancho Gonzales d. Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, first round, grass, Wimbledon, 1969

4. (No. 10 All-Time) Henri Cochet d. Bill Tilden 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3, semifinal, Wimbledon, grass, 1927

5. (No. 12 All-Time) Margaret Court d. Billie Jean King 14-12, 11-9, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1970

6. (No. 18 All-Time) Helen Wills Moody d. Helen Jacobs 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1935

7. (No. 25 All-Time) Maria Bueno d. Margaret Smith 6-4, 7-9, 6-3, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1964

8. (No. 27 All-Time) Stan Smith d. Ilie Nastase 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1972

9. (No. 28 All-Time) Roger Federer d. Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14, final, Wimbledon, grass, 2009

10. (No. 29 All-Time) Maureen Connolly d. Doris Hart 8-6, 7-5, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1953

The Best Backhands of All-Time

 

Who has the greatest backhand in the history of tennis? Tennis historian and author Steve Flink throws out his thoughts on the debate ranking the top five men’s and women’s backhands of all time in his new book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME, available on Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354551927&sr=8-1&keywords=greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time The except of the best backhands is excerpted below.

 

Men

1. DON BUDGE When he captured the Grand Slam in 1938—the first player ever to realize that feat—Budge had it all, but the single biggest strength in his game was his majestic backhand. Most of those players who preceded Budge at the top of tennis were better off the forehand, but his backhand was the first of its kind. His aggressiveness off that side was ground breaking in many ways. He drove the backhand essentially flat and all students of the game marveled at its magical simplicity.

2. KEN ROSEWALL The diminutive Australian’s backhand was legendary. He prepared early, turned his shoulders unfailingly, kept his eyes glued to the ball, but, most significantly, Rosewall’s backhand was a slice. Across the history of tennis, many slice backhands have been used primarily for defensive purposes, but not Rosewall’s. His slice backhand worked in every way: as a rally shot, as a passing shot, for the lob, and on the return of serve. It was multi-faceted. It was incredibly versatile. And above all else, it was unmistakably elegant.

3. JIMMY CONNORS Watching Connors launch into one of his two-handed backhand drives was one of the great joys for all erudite observers from the early seventies until the outset of the 1990’s. Connors retained the old fashioned flavor of a flat, one-handed backhand, producing flat and penetrating two-handers of unrelenting depth and immense power, yet gaining stability with his right hand. His backhand was the picture of purity. It was his signature shot.

4. NOVAK DJOKOVIC A mesmerizing athlete, Djokovic can be forced well off the court by wide balls to his two-handed backhand and still recover in time to play the shot with assertiveness and astounding control. He returns with unswerving authority off that side, and in long rallies from the baseline, his two-hander is rock solid. Djokovic finds just the right blend of flat and topspin shots with his two-handed backhand. This shot made him the great champion he became.

5. LEW HOAD and GUSTAVO KUERTEN One match away from winning the Grand Slam in 1956, Hoad at the height of his powers was impenetrable. The gifted Australian had every shot in the book, could perform brilliantly on any surface and was universally admired for his immense talent. Off the ground, his one-handed backhand was widely appreciated. He drove through the ball with an essentially flat stroke and was lethal off that side. To be sure, he was a streaky player, but when he was on, there was nothing he could not do on a tennis court, including cracking the backhand mightily. Kuerten’s one-handed backhand was the cornerstone of his game—a majestic, sweepingly beautiful, fluid, one handed stroke that carried him to three French Open crowns. Kuerten sparkled off that side, hitting winners at will, driving the ball both crosscourt and down the line with extraordinary pace and minimal topspin. His backhand was singularly inspiring in its time.

 

Women

1. CHRIS EVERT While both Connors and Borg made substantial contributions toward the cause of the two-handed backhand, it is safe to say that Evert’s impact was larger. Her success charted a new course for women’s tennis and the two-hander became a staple. But that did not mean it was easy to replicate the geometric precision of her backhand. The daughter of an outstanding teaching professional named Jimmy Evert, she worked diligently on her two-hander. It was the shot that never deserted her across the years. In rallies, her depth was unmatchable and she seldom missed. Her returns were crisp and solid and her passing shots were unimaginably precise and unerring. Meanwhile, the topspin lob was always at her disposal. In my book,  the Evert backhand was the best in the history of women’s tennis and the precursor for so many great two-handers to replicate.

2. MONICA SELES Just as Djokovic broke new ground by taming the Rafael Nadal forehand with his backhand, Seles did essentially the same thing with her lefty two-handed backhand against Graf. The German always was more comfortable running around her backhand to play the inside-out forehand, but if you could keep her pinned deep in her forehand corner, she was not able to control rallies in the same manner. Seles forced Graf to do that by virtue of the depth and speed of her two-handed backhand crosscourt, forcing Graf back on her heels. That was no mean feat. The Seles backhand was immaculately executed.

3. JUSTINE HENIN The Belgian brought an awful lot to the table of competition. She was a complete player with all of the tools to succeed in her trade. Yet her one-handed topspin backhand was her trademark. Henin’s backhand was sweepingly beautiful, a spectator’s dream, an opponent’s nightmare. She was willing to miss off that side because her goal was to make things happen off the backhand, and, if that meant making some aggressive errors, so be it. But she more than balanced the scales by sprinkling the court with clusters of topspin backhand winners, going down the line or crosscourt, long or short.

4. LINDSAY DAVENPORT At nearly 6’3,” Davenport was an imposing physical presence on a tennis court. Over the years, she became decidedly better as a tennis player and athlete by losing weight, gaining momentum in the process. Across time, her two-handed backhand was strikingly effective, particularly crosscourt. She kept it uncomplicated, going for one deep, penetrating and flat shot after another until she could break down the defenses of her adversaries.

5. EVONNE GOOLAGONG The Australian often looked like a ballerina on tennis court, but never more so than on the backhand side. She was very flexible, using the slice backhand to keep herself in rallies, raising the tempo whenever she saw an opening to release her glorious topspin backhand. She did not have to think when she hit a backhand— it was all flowing and instinctive. The Goolagong backhand remains frozen in the minds of tennis fans everywhere.

Nadal’s Mental Toughness and Greatest Ever Passing Shots On Full Display In Gap-Widening Win Over Federer

Rafael Nadal’s 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3  win over Roger Federer in the semifinals of the Australian Open has shown that what was once considered the greatest rivalry in the history of men’s tennis is now a decidedly one-sided affair.

Nadal now leads his rivalry over Federer 23-10, including a 9-2 record in matches at Grand Slams.

“Even when Federer was right smack in his prime, Nadal always had his number,” said Steve Flink, tennis historian and author of the book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME, after Nadal’s Australian win. “Now the gap has widened as Federer approaches 33. Federer has found renewed spirit with his larger headed racket but Nadal gave him a hard dose of reality with a performance of the highest order.”

In his GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME book, available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390661275&sr=8-1&keywords=greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time, Flink rates the 2008 Wimbledon final between the two as the No. 1 match of all time. He also gives rankings to players in the greatest strokes and attributes categories of all-time, assigned Nadal the No. 1 ranking of all-time in “Mental Toughness” and “Passing Shots” categories, both of which were on full display in Nadal’s crushing win over the Swiss maestro.

“His renowned mental toughness was fully on display — especially in the first set of this semifinal,” said Flink of Nadal in Friday’s match. “Federer knew he had to win that set and he played great tennis en route to a tie-break. Then Nadal took total control of the match. He demoralized Federer with his pinpoint passing shots.”

“In my mind, no one has ever produced better passing shots in the history of the game,” continued Flink of Nadal. “Federer had attacked very effectively in defeating Tsonga and Murray back to back. He was delighted with his transition game, with good reason. But his approach shots were not good enough to thwart Nadal, and even when Roger did make better coming in shots, Nadal came up with spectacular winners at full stretch on the run. In the final analysis, Nadal put Federer firmly in his place. Federer had lost his serve only twice in five matches but Nadal broke him four times. That was no accident.”

THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink also includes a fascinating “greatest strokes of all-time” section where he ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years. Other champions featured in the book include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf among many others.

The book has received high praise from some of the most respected names in the sport, including Chris Evert, a winner of 18 major singles titles in her career, who wrote the foreword to the book.

Said seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, “Steve Flink was there reporting on almost every big match I played in my career. He has seen all of the great players for the last 45 years. I encourage you to read this book because Steve is one of the most insightful writers on the game that I have known and he really knows his tennis.”

Said former U.S. Davis Cup captain and player Patrick McEnroe, “As a writer and a fan, Steve Flink’s knowledge of tennis history and his love of the sport are second to none, which is why you should read his new book.”

Said ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, “To see tennis through the eyes of Steve Flink is to wander through a wonderland. These are not fantasies because Steve captures the essence of tennis matches in graphic detail. There is no one more passionate or caring about his subject. In this absorbing book, I can relive matches that I have called on television.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself and Others” by Rick Macci, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “People’s Choice Guide Cancun” by Eric Rabinowitz, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.