The Art and Science of Victory
Semi-Western Grip

This is the grip of the new generation. More pros now use this grip to power their forehands than any other grip. It has transformed the women's professional tennis to a power game and forced a strategic retreat in men's game from the net to the baseline. First popularized by clay court players like Bjorn Borg, the new, more powerful graphite racquets have enabled the semi-western the grip to dominate on all surfaces.

The semi-western is the most natural grip for hitting a hard, deep topspin drive. The hand is partly under and partly behind the racquet, so the topspin forehand feels quite natural. The forehand stroke that complements this grip gives reliable and continuously adjustable topspin with an open stance that is easy to achieve and is great for wide reach shots. Adjustable topspin also opens up target areas of the opponents court that cannot be as easily reached with any other grip; this means that a winner can be hit from anywhere on the court.

All of that being said, there are still players for whom the semi-western grip is not the right choice. It is not the best grip for hitting slice or flat and is unreliable on the volley. It is hard to get too from the two-handed, continental or eastern backhand grips, so it is not as quick on the volley and return of serve. It requires moderate forearm strength and a full back swing to take full advantage of its ability to hit heavy top which means early preparation is key to its consistency.

Basics

Semi-western forehand grip - the first knuckle is opposite the fourth bevel near the underside of the grip.

The first knuckle is opposite the next-to-the-bottom bevel of the grip (bevel #4).


Semi Western Forehand Grip Pressure Points

Semi-western forehand grip pressure points - Node the proximity of the forehand 'hammer' (blue) and topspin 'sword' pressure points. Slice 'sword' pressure points are indicated in yellow.

The most remarkable aspect of the pressure point pattern of the semi-western grip is the proximity of the pressure points of the forehand 'hammer' and topspin 'sword' motions. In essence they represent the same force operating in the same direction - 50% dedicated to topspin and 50% to pace. The result is a very natural and simple transfer of force from the body in support of these two objectives. The topspin forehand which has ben traditionally hard to teach and often misunderstood in the days of eastern and continental grips is now almost trivial to learn and teach. This has popularized the 'big forehand' and has bred a plethora of young amateur Sharapovas and Federers.

Semi-western checklist:

  • First knuckle firmly against the fourth bevel.
  • First joint of index finger firmly against the edge between bevel #5 (bottom bevel) and bevel #6.
  • Middle joint of thumb firmly against bevel #8.
  • Pads of ring and pinky finger firmly against the edge between bevels # 7 and #8
  • Racquet is held in-line with the forearm so when arm is down the head of the racquet is below the wrist.