Paul McNamee marvels at footage of young tennis player’s ‘lethal’ all-forehand style
A leading Australian tennis coach has lauded a young prospect for taking on the challenge of “the next development in tennis” – playing with two ‘Rafael Nadal forehands’.
Footage, which you can watch in the video above, hit social media after a keen fan spotted young Teodor Davidov at a junior tournament in the US over the weekend.
Davidov, playing in the under-12 division, never plays a backhand and switches hands as required so he can always hit a forehand.
The attacking technique is not without precedent, as noted by experienced tennis journalist Christopher Clarey.
Back in 2003 he reported on Russia’s Evgenia Kulikovskaya, who reached world No.91 in the world and played in six grand slams.
Kulikovskaya’s biggest scalp was a win over then world No.20 Iva Majoli in 1998, while she was ranked 227th in the world when she upset world No.65 Bianka Lamade at the 2001 US Open.
But the all-forehand style hasn’t been seen at the top level since – and Australian coach Paul McNamee believes it’s just a matter of time before it returns with a bang.
“To have two forehands and to hit them both this well is amazing,” tennis media identity Blair Henley wrote.
“To be a true switch hitter on the *serve* is next level. He’s in the (under) 12s?!”
McNamee said: “I’ve always felt that is the next development in tennis… having two ‘King’ (Nadal) forehands…. just imagine facing Rafa’s forehand on both sides … too good.”
The right-handed Nadal has famously become the greatest left-handed player in tennis history after his uncle and coach Toni forced the switch on him as a youngster.
Nadal’s ability to hit forehands with incredible power, accuracy and top spin has proved one of his greatest strengths on his way to winning 20 grand slam titles.
If a player could manage that on both sides, McNamee believes it could be game over for the competition.
“Two King ‘a la Rafa’ forehands … lethal,” he wrote.
McNamee knows a thing or too about unorthodox techniques, coaching popular WTA veteran Hsieh Su-Wei and her two-handed forehand.
Davidov, meanwhile, has been working on his all-forehand game for at least two years.
Kulikovskaya said she had been at it for 17 years by the time her singles career peaked in 2003, having never learned a backhand from her first hit at the age of seven.
Despite Davidov proving the art lives on McNamee’s hopes of a Nadal-level rebirth in the 2020s may be slim.
Professional tennis has sped up considerably since the turn of the century, when coaches already thought the game was too quick for a player like Kulikovskaya to succeed.
“Two forehands is the dream,” Michael De Jong told Clarey at the time.
“Ten to 15 years ago, when the game was slower, you might have had time to make it work.”
But McNamee strongly believes the day is coming when a special talent breaks through without a backhand.
“You will see it one day,” he told Henley.