History made as no one-handed backhand players in ATP top 10 for first time

Stefanos Tsitsipas’s departure from the top 10 sealed the one-hander’s fate

Grigor Dimitrov AI/Reuters/Panoramic

From Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall to John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg to Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka to Richard Gasquet, the one-handed backhand has been ever-present at the top of the men’s game.

But for the first time since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973, when the new list is officially confirmed on Monday, there will be no one-handed backhand player among the top 10.

The reasons are more complex than who’s playing at the moment, of course, but in terms of the reason it’s happening now, Stefanos Tsitsipas drops out of the top 10 for the first time since 2019 and when Grigor Dimitrov was beaten by Alex De Minaur in Rotterdam on Saturday, the fate was sealed.

If there’s reason for optimism, for the one-handers, then it’s that Tsitsipas and Dimitrov are just outside the top 10 and could easily make it back in some time soon.

But the advances in racquet technology, the way strings have changed to create more spin, the increasing physicality in the game and many other reasons mean that the two-hander – far more solid on returns – has taken over in recent years.

And while it’s easy to imagine a Federer or Edberg doing their thing in today’s game, the one-hander is clearly in danger, if not already in full retreat.

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