Dominic Thiem striking a backhand.
Dominic Thiem’s single-handed backhand is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in tennis. Not only is it an aesthetic delight, but it also packs a tremendous punch, leaving most opponents flat-footed.
But Thiem recently revealed that he didn’t always have a one-handed backhand.
In a conversation with Tennis Channel, the defending US Open champion mentioned that he started playing tennis with a two-hander. Thiem switched to the single-hander at the age of 11, upon the advice of ex-coach Gunter Bresnik.
The Austrian explained that, like most kids, he initially chose the shot which felt most natural to him – and that was the two-handed backhand. He also recalled that he had to put in a lot of effort to learn and master the one-hander after making the switch.
“It was actually the decision of my coach because I was only 11 years old when I switched,” Dominic Thiem said. “And I put so many hours of work into it because probably my more natural shot is the two-handed backhand, that’s why I started with it.””I guess a kid starts to play the backhand how it feels natural to him or her you know,” Thiem added. “So that’s why I probably did it two-handed as it was more natural to me but I switched. Well it was my coach’s decision, and then I was putting so many hours of work into it and how it became the shot of today.”
Dominic Thiem went on to assert that the single-hander still does not come as naturally to him as most people think.
“But it’s not that natural as many people think it is,” Thiem said. “It’s a well-worked shot.”
Dominic Thiem was then asked to name the advantages that a single-handed backhand brings to a player’s game. The Austrian, who turned 28 on Friday, highlighted that the one-handed backhand helps while slicing the ball as well as in giving the player better reach when striking volleys.
“For me, I mean the slice is easier to learn as a one-hander because you use it way more,” Thiem said. “And also the backhand volley probably, you have a little bit more of reach.”
But much to the surprise of the panelists on Tennis Channel, Dominic Thiem went on to claim he wouldn’t advise any youngster to opt for the single-handed backhand. Thiem explained that the two-handed backhand has a lot more advantages in today’s game, which involves more power-hitting than finesse.
“But if you want to hear my honest opinion, if I would be a coach now or if my kids would choose a backhand, I would let them play a two-handed backhand I guess,” Dominic Thiem said. “It has slightly more advantages in today’s game, women’s and men’s.”
Dominic Thiem says a one-handed backhand would suit Ashleigh Barty, admits he loves Stan Wawrinka’s one-hander the most
Dominic Thiem says that he loves Stan Wawrinka’s backhand the most
Former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport was one of the panelists on Tennis Channel during the discussion. And she threw her weight behind Dominic Thiem’s opinions regarding the one-handed backhand.
But the three-time Slam champion pointed out that Ashleigh Barty is a successful case study for a player who has mastered the two-handed drive as well as the one-handed sliced backhand.
“I think that Dominic is right,” Davenport said. “I really like how Ash Barty developed a two-hand drive but really learnt how to knife the slice. That would be a perfect combo.”
Dominic Thiem, on his part, asserted that the one-handed backhand would work well as a part of Ashleigh Barty’s game.
“I think for Ash the one-handed backhand would suit her well,” Thiem said.
Thiem was then asked to comment on one of his poses while striking the one-handed backhand.
He admitted that it looked “beautiful”, but insisted that there are more aesthetic one-handers than his. Thiem then named Stan Wawrinka’s backhand as his favorite.
“It looks beautiful but there are more beautiful one-handed backhands than mine,” Thiem said. “I always loved Stan’s the most.”