When Stefanos Tsitsipas fell out of the top 10 in February, tennis purists lamented the apparent demise of the one-handed backhand, a shot that was once synonymous with the sport. This style of play had propelled legends like Pete Sampras and Roger Federer to a combined 15 Wimbledon titles and was the signature move of Stan Wawrinka when he secured three major championships. Federer himself expressed deep concern over the dwindling presence of one-handed backhands in the top 10, calling it a 'dagger' to the sport. 'I felt it. That one was personal. I didn't like that,' Federer confided to GQ magazine, referring to the first time in over 50 years that the top 10 lacked a one-handed backhand player. 'But at the same time, it makes the one-handers - Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, me - it makes us special as well that we've carried the torch, or the flag or whatever, for as long as we did.' He expressed admiration for players like Stan Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet, Tsitsipas, and Dominic Thiem, who maintain this classic style.

Currently, only two players in the top 20 employ a one-handed backhand: Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov, who has recently re-entered the top 10. Dominic Thiem was the last to win a Grand Slam with this technique at the 2020 US Open, but wrist injuries have since plagued him, leading to his planned retirement this year. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope in the form of Italy's Lorenzo Musetti, who has revitalized interest in the one-handed backhand by reaching the Wimbledon semifinals. 'No one taught it to me. It came naturally. When I picked up my first racquet, I played the one-handed backhand. I think I made the right choice. I never wanted to change,' Musetti shared with reporters. In a notable clash of styles, Musetti triumphed over Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, a young talent who is set to debut in the top 50.

Musetti's performance at Wimbledon has not only elevated him to 16th in the rankings but also showcased his prowess, hitting more backhand winners than any other semifinalist. He now faces Novak Djokovic for a spot in the final. Djokovic, who initially played with a one-handed backhand, switched to two due to the challenges posed by high balls. Despite Musetti's success, many believe the one-handed backhand will not make a significant comeback. Alexander Zverev, the world number four and recent French Open runner-up, has used a two-handed backhand since he was 10. 'I think in the modern game, a double-handed backhand has more advantages. It is maybe a less beautiful shot, as everybody says, but it is more effective,' Zverev remarked. He sees the one-handed backhand as increasingly impractical in the fast-paced modern game, where two hands provide better control against high-speed shots.