The ultimate tennis player
When Nadal was at his best he was the ultimate warrior
Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal's forehand? Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray's backhand? John Isner or Milos Raonic's serve? Patrick Mouratoglou takes his pick from the world's best to construct the dream competitor
It’s a game that tennis fans around the world love to play. If you could construct the perfect player, whose forehand would you choose? Whose backhand, whose serve, whose volleys? The editor asked me to play the game for this issue, so here is my verdict on the modern game’s perfect male player.
The April 2016 digital issue of tennishead is out now and available to download for free from Google Play and at the App Store.
In assessing the best forehand I find it hard to choose between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. On their recent form I might be tempted to choose Roger’s, but when they are both playing at their best I would go for Rafa’s. His “lasso” forehand, with his follow- through going over his head rather than over the shoulder, is unique. I’ve never seen anyone hit a shot like it. The way Rafa hits his forehand puts heavy topspin on the ball. That in turn makes the ball bounce really high after it hits the court surface, pushing the opponent out of the court and enabling Rafa to dominate the point. When he was at his best you always thought that if Rafa could just hit one forehand in a rally he would win the point. Even if the opponent could get the ball back he would be in so much trouble that he would have no chance to recover. Rafa’s inside-out forehand cross-court, when he runs around his backhand and hits the ball wide to his opponent’s forehand, is incredible. He also finds amazing angles. I recently watched again his 2008 Wimbledon final against Roger. The angles of his forehands were insane.
To find out whose backhand Mouratoglou favours, and who he thinks has the best drop shot, lob and mental strength, download the April 2016 digital issue of tennishead on your smartphone or tablet.