This is my tennis blog, Lefty Advantage. Tennis is my biggest passion in life and I started this site to discuss the great game. I mainly follow the career of Roger Federer, but I truly love watching all tennis, whether it be the final of a Grand Slam
or a junior tournament on the other side of the world.

I have played tennis for 13 years. If you ever met me, I could talk your head off about all things tennis for hours on end if you would let me. Welcome, and enjoy the writing!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Federer Wins Indian Wells

In the finals of the BNP Paribas Open from Indian Wells, California, Roger Federer defeated big American John Isner 76(7) 63 to win his 4th Indian Wells title, a record.  It was Fed's 3rd title of the 2012 season, his 19th Masters 1000 title, and his 73rd career title.  It was Federer's first Indian Wells title since 2006.  With the win, Roger has now won 39 of his past 41 matches, won 6 of his last 8 tournaments entered, and it is looking more and more like he will overtake the #2 spot from Rafael Nadal before the French Open.

It was another windy day, but not as windy as the day before when the wind was wreaking havoc with Federer's semifinal win against Nadal.  The first set was very even, with Federer holding serve with relative ease by moving the big American around the court, and Isner held comfortably off the strength of his serve.  Roger's only chance to break the Isner serve came at 5-6, but the chance was snuffed out quickly by a huge Isner bomb.  The set went to a seemingly inevitable tiebreak.  Both men traded mini-breaks and looked as though they didn't want to win the set at all.  Nerves were definitely playing a part.  Skip ahead all the way to 7-7, and Roger hit a framed half-pass half-lob that landed square on the line, and he had set point, his 4th of the set.  He won the next point and took the first set tiebreak 9-7.

The second set again, started out very evenly, until Roger turned up the heat at 3-3 with two delicious passing shots; one inside-out forehand and one down-the-line flick backhand pass.  It was simply breathtaking.  Roger was getting a better read on the Isner serve than he had in the first set and that allowed him to be much more aggressive and do things that only Roger Federer can.  He broke, then held comfortably, and then broke again.  7-6(7) 63 Federer, to win his record-tying 19th Masters 1000 title.  In the second set, he only lost one point on serve, and he saved his best tennis for last, as if even possible after the victory against Nadal.

Complete concentration.

I could not be more proud of Roger.  When the draw came out, it looked daunting.  Milos Raonic in the 3rd round, then a semifinal with Rafael Nadal?  It certainly didn't look like he could get through that, even with the great run he has been on.  But he did, and he did with flying colours.  He overcame tough tests against Raonic and Thomaz Bellucci, in which he needed to come back from a set down each time.  Perhaps the Federer of last year wouldn't have come through in those tough situations, but this Roger Federer is a completely different player; a much more confident player.  After those two comeback wins, the test became even tougher.  Another match with del Potro, which is never easy.  Federer rolled through him like a knife cuts through cheese.  Surely he couldn't play better than that?  But he did.  And he did so against his greatest rival, Nadal.  It was the perfect match played by Roger, and he did it in terrible conditions and with the odds against him.  Again, last year, he may have lost that match.  Not this year.  Not now.  Then came the final against Isner.  A man who Fed had lost to at the Davis Cup, on clay, in Switzerland.  It was time to avenge that loss (but in a sweet way, you know, because Roger is so kind-spirited).  It took him a set to get used to the serve, and then in a flash, he was playing the best tennis we had seen all week long.  And it was spectacular.  Perhaps what made it more spectacular was that Fed had the flu and did not get much practice time, and he still played some of the best tennis we have ever seen from him.  That is a champion.

The title win capped off a perfect week for the Swiss Maestro.  He won a title where he hadn't even made the final since 2006.  That tells you right there how well he is playing.  He played with fire, determination, heart, and passion.  He converted on 22 of 38 break point chances, which is incredible, and certainly a key factor in his success.  When he can convert his break points well, everything falls into place and he is able to win much more efficiently.  His return was especially great against Isner, where Fed got his racket on the majority of balls and made the big American play. 

Before the tournament started, never in my wildest dreams did I think Roger would play this well and win the title.  And to do so with straight sets wins over del Potro, Nadal, and Isner, well, that's just magical.  Nobody does that.  Only Roger.  That seems to be the telling theme these days.  Only Roger.  Only Roger can do what he is doing at age 30, almost 31.  It's extraordinary.  He may be 30 years old, but he moves like he's 24 and he has the motivation of a 24 year-old as well.  He just loves tennis more than anyone else on planet Earth, and even though he has accomplished everything, he wants more.  He is hungry and driven, and nothing will get in his way.  Not Djokovic, not Nadal, not age. 

The Champ looks happy!

The rest of 2012 is looking extremely promising for Fed, and I have no doubt he can win another Slam or two and get back the #1 ranking by years end.  Miami is up next and I have no doubt he can do well there if he plays as well as he did in Indian Wells.  It is all in the mind, and Roger is as focused as perhaps he has ever been.

Congrats Roger, and thank you.


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