“Your forehand is your sword and your backhand is your shield” – Just don’t tell Taylor Fritz says leading strategy expert
Taylor Fritz caused the years most spectacular upset to end Rafa Nadal’s winning streak and triumph at the 2022 Indian Wells, but what was the secret to his stunning success?
Tennishead’s long time friend Craig O’Shannessy, founder of BrainGameTennis.com, watched the match and his exclusive analysis for Tennishead will blow your mind!
Taylor Fritz ended Rafael Nadal’s perfect 20-0 start to the season by beating the Spaniard 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final of the Indian Wells Masters 1000 in early March. Fritz rose to a career-best ranking of No. 13 on the back of the biggest victory of his career.
An analysis of how Fritz went about his business from the back of the court in his six matches uncovers that the 24-year-old American had an almost identical total of forehands and backhands struck from the baseline.
Taylor Fritz Total Groundstrokes
• Forehands = 903 (51%)
• Backhands = 881 (49%)
This goes against the recent trend in our sport for players to look to hit as many forehands from the back of the court, in particular run-around forehands over backhands. For example, consider Nadal’s forehand and backhand totals for the tournament (match data v Opelka not available).
Rafa Nadal Total Groundstrokes
• Forehands = 785 (59%)
• Backhands = 552 (41%)
Nadal seeks forehands from all compass points of the baseline. Fritz, not so much.
While Fritz feels equally adept at hitting forehands and backhands from the baseline, it is still his forehand that he hits the hardest. In the final against Nadal, his average forehand speed was 75 mph. His average backhand speed was less, at 68 mph.
Fritz’s forehand is definitely the offensive wing from the baseline. Essentially in tennis, the role of the forehand is to make the opponent miss. The role of the backhand is not to miss, and Fritz got that mix exactly right at Indian Wells this year. Fritz’s backhand is an impenetrable wall that rarely breaks down when trading backhands cross court with his opponents.
Fritz’s strategic success in the desert is an interesting crease in the American baseline playbook which dictates that you seek more potent forehands from all over the court. Fritz’s tactics were more of a throwback to an era when players hit a more even total of forehands and backhands.
It worked in spades for the new American No. 1.
Craig O’Shannessy is the creator of Brain Game Tennis. For 20 years he’s been involved in tennis as a coach to players like Kevin Anderson and also with Dustin Brown when he famously beat Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon. More recently Craig’s been working as a match analyst at Wimbledon and for the ATP Tour. He has also used the unique insights from his match analysis software dartfish to guide players such as Novak Djokovic with analysis of opponents and performances.
Craig has been writing for Tennishead magazine for a number of years and is now working with us on this series of features aimed at using his statistical skills to help you improve your tennis game.
Visit BrainGameTennis.com to read the latest and best selling course called ‘Getting tight’ where Craig O’Shannessy and Jeff Greenwald combine their specific skill sets to help you with the universal problem all players struggle with in matches – Getting Tight.
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