Many believe this talented 19-year-old has unlimited potential, with effortless power on his serve and forehand, and an ultra-smooth two-handed backhand. But not all two-handers are alike. The key to understanding Zverev’s backhand is the way his grip and arms work together.
Some players hit their two-handed backhand with both elbows bent 45 degrees or more at contact, almost like a left-handed forehand. But Zverev makes contact with his back arm straight, or very close to it. In this shot, there is more initial pull with the front arm, similar to the way a one-handed backhand starts. It’s followed by a push with the back arm just before contact.
A Continental grip with the bottom hand is necessary for this hitting position. Zverev pairs this with a conservative Eastern grip with his top hand. The combination is well suited to taking the ball early, and pushes the contact point further out in front of his body.
It’s critical that the top arm remain straight. To try it yourself, set up like Zverev does, with your contact point in front of your body, and with the right grips and your back arm straight. The mental image of that position should guide you as you start your forward swing.
John Yandell is publisher of the TennisPlayer.net digital magazine and an instruction editor for TENNIS Magazine.