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Fabrice Santoro's two-handed forehand
Hi, I was wondering if anyone here is a fan of Santoro or has developed a game like his. I am a college player and I play with a cross-handed forehand, and generally slice it by letting go with my dominant hand and following through with only the non dominant hand half way up the grip. I can also hit a heavy topspin shot if I have time to set up. I find it to be very confusing to opponents, and my teammates think it is very entertaining to watch. I have also found that the slice is much more effective than most "normal" players' backhand slice. It is extremely natural for me, very consistent, and I can even hit effective passing shots and lobs. But I am the only person besides Santoro I have ever seen hit this shot...any thoughts?
well, Santoro has that, you are right...there were some others, who had double handed forehands, like Jan Michale Gambill and Byron Black...but Santoro is not very tall and he can hit those shots quite efficiently...for me, to be honest, I don't like that too much...even if you think it is effective, and it really is, I still don't like it...it looks very much unprofessional to me. No ofence, and I am not saying it can't be efficient or whatever, I just don't like it...
If you're in college (which means your game is about as good as it going to get) and the two-fisted forehand works best for you and wins, use it. For you, its benefits outweigh its limitations. And, the object is to win.
Younger kids though often want to switch to it instead of just fixing some flaws in the one-handed forehand, which has more potential than the two-hander on that side. So, it's something you want to think carefully about, but the bottom line is that the object of any game is simply to win.
I'm not exactly sure if my two handed forehand is the same as the one that you described, but I also use a two handed forehand. I have found that this grip is more comfortable and balanced and allows more control and therefore gives you better placement on certain shots (not volleys ). I do not use the traditional backhand however so this allows me to switch from forehand to backhand without moving my hands on the grip. I'm only a highschool level player and only for one year. My teammates have also found this very "unusual" and enjoy watching me play.
Nice hearing that I'm not alone lol.
I play 2 hands on both sides as well.. started when I was 6 and rackets back then were wooden and aluminum. They were really heavy.. so as a small kid, I had to swing the racket with both hands. I never changed my grip and I never remembered wanting.
Anyways, I don't hit slices with my forehand unless I really need to (drop shots, block a serve, volleys, or chase a hard to reach shot). I hit it semi-flat most of the time (wrist snap upon impact) but I can hit heavy topspins when I want to (let the ball dip on the netter's foot or a looping/topspin lob). On the backhand, I often use the slice for a deep approach shot. The way I hit the slice is that I let go of my non-dominant hand right after impact (on the follow through).
Yeah, i agree that if it works well for you and you dont plateau or anything at an early age from it, that its perfectly fine.
The ignorance of this shot is abound. The two-handed forehand is a weapon for many. It is now used by more pros on tour (in the top 200 in the world, men and women) than in the history of the pro tour combined. Not only did Monica Seles use it to become number one in the world, there are dozens of world-class players who use it and are in the top 50 in the world. On top of that, there are a slew of top-ranked juniors using two-handed forehands.
It is not going to be as profound as the 2-handed backhand development over the last thirty years, but it is becoming more visible today. Unfortunately, too many teaching pros--those who know nothing about the teaching or potential of the stroke--choose to berate the shot as if it were a failed stroke only used by beginners or the handicapped!
I have taught the stroke for 18 years and not only have seen the speed of developing proper one-handed techniques for those who eventually evolve to the more conventional, but also as a weapon for many.
Ironically, today we are seeing the same ridicule of the shot as we saw thirty years ago in the development of the two-handed backhand.
I have written the most comprehensive teaching of the two-handed forehand (as well as the conventional 'modern' one-handed forehand) in my book, TENNIS MASTERY. In addition there are several articles found at www.tennisone.com on the shot.
If you are a teaching pro, please don't be another ignorant pro spouting clueless statements about something you know nothing about. Let's face it, the top player in China, the thirt best player in France, and many others are using the shot. This, at the top level in the world. It is NOT a shot that players should explore just because they are 'fixing' flaws in their shot. (Although, it is an excellent tool in this use as well!)
go for it
I'm from Toulon a nice town from the french riviera coast in the south of France, just like Santoro. I saw him playing when both being teenagers and even played a tiebreak when passing sport exam to graduate for college.
I think Santoro was even better when being a teenager than when reaching the top players. He then took advice from another previous famous american tennis player 2handed both sides...And lost a bit of his magic.
I remember my coach showing me the path of Santoro on his side of the field and comparing with his opponent. Every final was just the same. He was playing an incredible full step in front of his baseline where his opponent where at least one behind. Effortless, he could counteract any powerfull stroke finding incredible angles. I can't remember how many times I saw him hardly swet after winning, where his opponent were covered with sticky clay and swet all over !
I remember all the bets we made on him winning easy. He had then hardly any serve but we were making fun of his opponent visiting every single corner of his field side. His hits on the rise in the diagonals of serve's square, his drop shots, his high topsspins, his unguessable passingshots were simply delightful.
He's a guy who fears really no one and often won against top 10 players on all surfaces.
As Seles was number one too, there is no doubt you can go on !
I guess you probably need to adjust your game to these skills just like Santoro did (although I didn't like his turn to more slices to change pace at pro level).
Never saw the 'earlier version' of Santoro...I believe his slice and dice game has made him unique, but certainly not top 10 world-class. However, I'm not sure he has a more 'conventional' game to get that high anyway...no matter how much he worked on it. But he is a 'magician' with a lot of what he does with the ball and I think he has probably gotten further with his game now than if he had played more conventional.
Originally Posted by danquest
I watched a number of two-handed forehand players play these past two years on tour and don't see the shot being a preventive shot for them to reach higher levels. Like all the conventional one-handers who can't make it to the top 100 or the like, there are many other parts of the game which contribute to such success.
It is interesting to see that while such a small percentage of players are being taught the two-handed forehand, there is a high percentage of those few reaching a relatively high ranking on the two tours.
I'm not sure I made myself clear enough...And not sure I fully understood your last point.
I'm just a bit upset hinking of Santoro's career.
First because he's got a lot of records against top 10 players in his career but lost in these matches a lot of energy, being uncapable to produce the same game on the long run of a tournament.
Secundly comes what I tried to figure out. He used to have a very agressive game but became more of a dinker while reaching pro level. He was taught this way as he reported in 2005.
What I mean by "agressive" is always taking the ball on the rise + getting more forced errors in shorter rallies.
It's getting me a bit frustrated as a french, since Gasquet seems to take the same way. He's got very powerful shots but if you compare with Federer the secund hugs the baseline while the first is often and at least one step behind.
While there was more french in the top 100 than any other nationality, isn't it a paradox not being able to place one of them in the top 10 ?
They're all very successful when being juniors and suddenly loosing agressivity.
I saw a junior match between Gasquet and Nadal just a couple of years ago and the secund lost with paying a wide visit of all the parts of the field.
I know everyone emphasize on reducing unforced errors but french players seem to forget the burst of their forced errors while doing so.
To give you a clear idea of what I mean, watch on you tube the last match in Shangai masters cup between Fed and Nalbandian. The secund were agressive and then leading in the match...until he started to wait for fed's mistakes with slices...to finally loose the match.
In my opinion, too many french players are just weither waiting too much or just overplaying...Maybe a lack of stress management ?
Santoro was known in france at least as a strong minded player but I consider his coaching when turning pro has been a waste.
I can't answer for the French; I really don't know if they have a national philosophy working towards more finesse or consistency and leaving out the pace and offensive stroke production. While I don't doubt your impressions of Santoro, I find it hard to believe that once he reached the pros he was able to be trained that significantely differently than he had getting there. I have trained several top ranked pros as juniors and even into their initial pro career and I would be an idiot if I wanted to change a player that significantly...or even if I thought I could, it wouldn't happen often.
Originally Posted by danquest
I can relate to your comment of more French being in the top 100 but none in the top 10 (At least the men...the women are holding their own!) I have written a series of articles for TennisOne.com regarding the downward cycle of Americans in the top 10 or even the top 100. Here we have a very diverse teaching mantra with no national organization dictating the essence of training players. In addition, tennis takes a back seat to the big team sports of football, basketball, soccer, and other sports. We get such a small percentage of high-caliber athletes, it is no wonder that the U.S. can't compete in larger numbers in tennis. It is difficult to get great athletes to play tennis here.
If Santoro was that aggressive and good at it, I too would be disapointed to see him change to the game he now has. While it is fun to watch, I don't think he is going to be a top 10 singles player with it. Of course, he is a top 10 doubles player and I still give him credit for making it as far as he has.
I can only say all this about Santoro. He's the only one I saw regurlarly playing as a junior. I'm not the only one going with this analysis around his hometown.
Actually I saw an tennis mag issue reproting an interview where he was expressing himself about getting retired soon and looking back at his career stating he should have been more offensive (most of stroke on the rise, more like Seles when n°1 or Agassi).
Since I'm not God, I can't tell if he could have reach the top 10 or not, even if he's been amongst the top 30 already. The past is the past, but learning from him could be a good thing for any player playing with the same technical skills.
That was my first point, using the extra power to take the ball on the rise and the 2 handed strokes to hit with more angle as well.
What seems now natural (half volley from the baseline like Fed of Agassi) were not in the early 90's. That's probably why the federal coach made him change his tactics with an emphasis on pace change rather than power and angles.
Maybe you're right, I missed it all, and he is just too short and not quick enough to achieve a better career path...I wish I could have check it if he didn't change his tactics.
I think Fabrice has one of the greatest minds the sport has ever seen. Maybe learning from his tactics and ability to change pace and frustrate his opponent by taking away their rhythm is what we should be taking from this great tennis player before he retires. He made a lot from not very much, given his physical stature. He truly is a "Magician"
Also use two handed forehand
I also use a two-handed forehand and backhand. It seems easier to use for me, and also more reliable than one handed forehands. I could put a heavy topspin easily also. I was always wondering who else used a two handed forehand and checked on wikipedia that Monica Seles did.
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