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The one-handed backhand has all but disappeared ...

... but the Swiss winner of the Australian Open, Stan Wawrinka, may be the man to save it.

But the Swiss winner of the Australian Open, Stan Wawrinka, may be the man to save it.

The one-hander is the prettiest swing in tennis and was once the dominant backhand stroke, beautifully swung by John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg and Justine Henin.

Young players, seeking immediate results, opt for the power that the second hand provides. Few change as they get older, as Pete Sampras did. "My ranking dropped, it was tough," Sampras said.

Even the strongest one-handers, like Roger Federer, struggle to consistently send high-bouncing balls back with pace and depth.

This weakness has been mercilessly exposed in Federer's long rivalry with Rafael Nadal. Time and again, the left-handed Nadal has used his high-velocity, high-kicking crosscourt forehand to break down Federer's backhand.


By Larry Buchanan, Joshua Davis, Mika Gröndahl, Josh Keller, Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, Graham Roberts, Bedel Saget, Michael Steinberger, Joe Ward and Josh Williams


Sources: Peter Irwin, Hawk-Eye Innovations; John Yandell,; Photographs by ATP; WTA; Associated Press; European Pressphoto Agency; Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Correction: August 25, 2014

An earlier version of a caption with this interactive feature misidentified the type of spin Stan Wawrinka is shown using on his one-handed backhand shot. It is topspin, not backspin.

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