Photo Credit: BBC
Watching the peerless Roger Federer pick up his seventh Wimbledon title yesterday I was struck again by the simple beauty that is his topspin one handed backhand which, when on song, I think is arguably the most aesthetic sight in sport. I’m not particularly a huge tennis fan, although I do like to both play and watch it, but there is something so mesmerising about this shot I’m simply drawn into watching. It contains within it fluidity of movement, control, balance, grace, precision, timing, style, power, finesse and I think it’s defining point is the lineage it draws right back through tennis history with it’s timelessness. Over the last couple of decades the one hand handed backhand topspin has become a bit of a dinosaur as players have moved over the two handed brute which often makes them appear crab like as they shuffle and twist for the shot no matter how effective it might be. Federer seems to be looking at these efforts with distain as he saunters across to despatch another ball to wherever he chooses, his hand held high on the follow through as if he is reaching up to pick fruit from a tree. If you watch old black and white footage of players in their slacks and blazers (which Federer often now mimics) the one handed backhand is the direct link through to this modern master who keeps alive the old ways. I wonder when he’s gone will we ever see the like again?
Up until yesterday I thought that the most aesthetic sight in sport was the David Gower cover drive or the Phil Bennett sidestep or perhaps Nibali or Sanchez descending the Alps but thrilling brilliant in their own way each of those are I think that the Federer backhand might win.
What’s your most aesthetic sight in sport ?