© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Jannik Sinner turned heads with his backhand during his breakthrough 2019 season.

Wrecking Ball: Sinner Has The Heaviest Backhand Of Them All

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers looks at the backhand of the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion

The biggest, baddest backhand on the block belongs to an up-and-coming 18-year-old Italian.

Jannik Sinner, No. 73 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, turned heads last November when he won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. His fluid, bruising backhand immediately impressed as he ripped spectacular winners from that wing with relative ease. Sinner’s backhand motion is as smooth as silk and the ball explodes off the strings thanks to exquisite timing and an efficient building of kinetic energy focused on the point of contact.

So, what specifically is so good about this wrecking ball of a backhand?

Two things. Spin and power.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of players who competed in a minimum of 10 ATP matches on Hawk-Eye courts from 2018-2020 identifies Sinner as a peak performer in both categories.

Average Backhand Topspin - Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
Adding spin to the ball helps create more margin for error and, in turn, allows for more power to be added to the shot as the spin helps keep it in. Sinner was the leader of the pack in hitting the most spin off his backhand wing, averaging 1858 rpm from 17 matches in the data set.

The leading five players in the spin category were:

1. Jannik Sinner = 1858 rpm
2. Martin Klizan = 1840 rpm
3. Felix Auger-Aliassime = 1825 rpm
4. Pablo Cuevas = 1735 rpm
5. John Millman = 1680 rpm

Out of the current Top 10, Gael Monfils (1551 rpm), Stefanos Tsitsipas (1280 rpm) and Daniil Medvedev (1262 rpm) led the way. Rafael Nadal led The “Big Three” with the most backhand topspin (1252 rpm), followed by Novak Djokovic (1148 rpm) and Roger Federer (548 rpm). Federer traditionally employs more slice backhands than the others, which lowers his overall rating here.

Average Backhand Speed (MPH)
The ability to “rock” a backhand is not a problem for the teenage Italian, as he had the fifth- highest average on tour with backhand speed, averaging 69 mph.

The leading five players in the data set are listed below.

1. Nikoloz Basilashvili = 71.2 mph
2. John Millman = 70.2 mph
3. Rafael Nadal = 69.8 mph
4. Ugo Humbert = 69.2 mph
5. Jannik Sinner = 69.1 mph

Dominic Thiem led the current Top 10 with average backhand speed at 67.4 mph, followed by Djokovic (67.3 mph) and Alexander Zverev (67.0 mph). Federer was around the middle of the ATP pack, averaging 66.1 mph. The average backhand speed for the 94 players in the data set was 66.0 mph.

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2019 NextGen ATP Finals
Sinner’s victory at the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals firmly put him on the map. His backhand metrics in his five matches provide a key insight into exactly how he manage to raise the trophy.

Next Gen ATP Finals: Sinner Five-Match Backhand Analysis

Average Backhand Speed
Sinner was crushing his backhand in Milan, averaging 75.3 mph, which was a considerable 7.1 mph faster on average than his opponents. His backhand averaged a jaw-dropping 80.2 mph in his round-robin match against Mikael Ymer.

•Sinner = 75.3 mph
•5 Opponents = 68.2 mph
•Difference = 7.1 mph

Court Position
Sinner hit the ball much harder off his backhand wing in Milan than his opponents and he did so from superior court position. He made contact with 23 per cent of backhands inside the baseline, which was almost double that of five opponents.

2019 Next Gen ATP Finals: Backhand Contact Point


Inside Baseline

< 2 Metres Of Baseline

> 2 Metres Behind Baseline





5 Opponents




Sinner’s backhand came to play in Milan. It already has the hallmarks as one of the most lethal shots in our game.

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