I get this question a lot: If I’m trying to master the modern forehand, who should I emulate?
Look no further than 2022 Rotterdam champion Felix Auger-Aliassime.
We always talk about how the optimal forehand swing is a brief, explosive, motion. The racket is quickly accelerated by the strong muscles of the hips and abs, and, as a result, it naturally flicks forward through the ball.
Well, Felix’s stroke demonstrates this concept perfectly.
In the image above, Felix’s final preparation position before his forward explosion, his racket, hand, elbow, and upper arm are all on the hitting side of his chest. Further, his elbow is already past his hip, even before he’s initiated his forward swing.
This preparation style is like a cheat code for timing the ball, and I’ll explain why.
We’ve talked before about how, in order for the kinetic chain to work, you must allow the elbow to pass through the plane of the hip before accelerating in earnest. Felix simply prepares the elbow at the location from which it’ll be driven forward, thereby bypassing that entire complication.
Since he prepares by placing his arm-racket system directly in the spot from which he wants to whip it forward, the only thing left to do after preparation is to whip it forward.
There’s no need to move the arm, or the hand, or alter the orientation of the racket – everything is fully prepared for the forward explosion already, leaving only a single variable: when to initiate that quick, explosive core rotation.
Felix also employs the biomechanically optimal level of rotation – he whips his hips and chest exactly towards his inside-out target, and then lets his arm flick forward from there.
The result is that this shot is extremely fault tolerant. If Felix is a little early, or a little late, his string angle will still be correct, because he is contacting the ball right in the center of the forward flick phase.
More to Come
I was really happy to see Felix win Rotterdam. As one of the players with the nicest forehand mechanics on tour, it was such a shame that he was struggling mentally. Make no mistake, though – Felix’s problem was never how he was striking the ball.
Felix strikes the ball in a hyper-efficient way. His style enables him to accelerate aggressively with an extremely simple swing. That simplicity lets him to time the ball extremely well, allowing him to both aim and disguise his shots with ease. Felix’s forehand is going to be one of the premiere weapons on the tour for the next decade, and I’m excited to keep watching it.