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Giuseppe "Beppe" Merlo (11 October 1927 – 17 July 2019) was an Italian tennis player, who is considered the inventor of the two-handed backhand, many years before this style of stroke was made internationally popular by Bjorn Borg and became the backhand technique preferred by the majority of recreational and professional players.

Giuseppe Merlo
Country (sports) Italy
Born(1927-10-11)11 October 1927
Merano, Italy
Died17 July 2019(2019-07-17) (aged 91) [1]
Rome, Italy
Turned pro1947 (amateur tour)
PlaysRight-handed (two-handed backhand)
Grand Slam Singles results
French OpenSF (1955, 1956)
Wimbledon4R (1955)
US Open1R (1955)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Wimbledon2R (1953)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
Wimbledon3R (1967)
Team competitions
Davis CupF (1955, 1958, 1961Ch)

Merlo reached the semifinals of French Championships in 1955 (losing to Sven Davidson) and 1956 (losing to Lew Hoad). In the final of Rome in 1955, Merlo led 2 sets to 1 and had 2 match points against Fausto Gardini, but minutes later had to retire with cramps. Merlo lost in the Italian Open final again in 1957 (to Nicola Pietrangeli).

He retired from competitive tennis in 1969 when he was 41 years old. He was 91 at the time of his passing in July 2019.


  1. ^ "Inventor of two-handed backhand dies". ANSA. 17 July 2019.

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