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Double up like Dementieva


Originally published on: 29/07/10 14:45

‘Double up like Dementieva’ featured in the May 2010 issue of tennishead magazine. For more details on how to subscribe, click here.

Grip it and rip it: There are three choices for a two-handed backhand: Continental, Eastern and Semi-Western. Each of these relate to the position of the dominant hand. The most common is the continental, while the Eastern will allow players to hit with a bit more spin. The Semi-Western is the hardest to adapt to, but allows players to hit hard, flat backhands.

Few female pros strike the ball better from the back of the court than Russian Elena Dementieva. Here’s how the 28-year-old Russian does it…

Elena is in the perfect position having started her preparation. Her racket is back early, her feet are in position, her legs are bent, and her hips and shoulders turned.

Key Point: The Russian will have begun her movement with a split step in preparation for moving off towards the ball.

The Russian has brought her racket back above her wrists prior to dropping it below the height of the ball before contact. Her shoulders are level and balanced, ready to shift forwards.
As the racket starts its forward motion, notice the wrists have now dropped the racket below the height of the ball. Her weight is driving forward with the racket and her eyes are fixed on the ball.

Golden rule: To create topspin it’s vital you get the racket head coming from underneath the ball. Get your bodyweight moving into the shot too for power.

Elena watches the ball onto her strings and meets it in the perfect hitting position – not too close, but not too far away and between knee and shoulder high. She makes contact out in front.

Her racket has travelled through the ball completely and as she makes contact her weight has transferred fully onto her front foot. She is still watching the ball and her head is perfectly still.

She finishes with an all-important full follow through and brings her left leg around ready to push off back to the middle of the court. Even after finishing the shot she is still watching the ball.


Key point: Dementieva is a great athlete and her strength gives her fantastic balance and posture as she strikes the ball. She is in full control of her body throughout.


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.