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!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Federer into Madrid Semifinals

Roger Federer followed off his one-sided victory over Richard Gasquet in the 3rd round to put together another complete performance in a 64 64 victory over David Ferrer in the quarterfinals.  The Spaniard was attempting to win his first match against Federer in 13 tries, but it was not to be, as Roger was strong on serve and Ferrer was troubled by the Swiss's presence on the other side of the net.

Ferrer escaped from the first game of the match even though he surrendered three straight double faults.  Sadly for him, he was broken in his next service game, which cost him the set.  Federer held out to take the opener and played wonderfully well.  In the second set, it was closer, and in the ninth game, Federer turned up the heat and struck gold, breaking Ferrer.  He capped off the win with a hold to book his spot in the semifinals.

Roger was superb on serve from start to finish and put up incredible numbers.  His first serves went in 78% of the time, and on those first serves, he won 86% of the points.  He also won 9 out of 10 points on his 2nd serves, showing that he backed it up nicely.  He fired 7 aces to go along with 0 double faults (as opposed to Ferrer's 7 doubles).  He did not face a break point, so Ferrer literally did not have any chance to hurt Roger, especially when he was struggling with his serve and forehand.

As far as I can tell, the Fedmeister is playing some incredible tennis right now.  He is serving with supreme efficiency, is returning decently, and looks comfortable from the ground.  For how much has been made about the blue clay and the difficulty of moving on it, Fed seems to be moving just fine - or at least as well as he moves on any other clay court.

The #1 seed Novak Djokovic was upset by his countryman and World #8 Janko Tipsarevic 76(2) 63.  Djokovic never looked himself out on the court (go figure) and Tipsarevic played with composure to beat Novak for the second time in his last three matches against him. Janko served remarkably well, and he saved all seven break points he faced - uncharacteristic for Djokovic to be so poor in his break point conversion - overall, the man with the glasses deserved the victory as he was simply the better man on the day through and through.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the new blue clay courts introduced to Madrid this year, and it has become a major issue specifically in the past two days with both Nadal and Djokovic getting eliminated.  They have been the most vocal in their displeasure of the blue clay, and it certainly added ammunition to their causes when they exited early.  It is questionable whether they would be so vocal in their criticism if they were still in the tournament.

In my humble opinion, both the #1 and #2 players in the world are handling this situation unprofessionally.  It is not as if they are the only two players who are playing on the blue clay.  Their slayers, Verdasco and Tipsarevic, played incredibly well on it and in the end, came out on top.  Other players, such as Federer, del Potro, and Berdych, have thrived on the surface.  At the end of the day, Djokovic and Nadal's vocal criticisms have a lot to do with the fact that they lost, and that they were unable to play their best tennis.

It's good to point out that Madrid is played at high altitude.  The court has always played differently (faster) than it's fellow Masters events, Monte Carlo and Rome.  (I say "always" as in since 2009)  The conditions in Madrid favour aggressive, attacking players, and punishes those that defend too much.  Notice how the four semifinalists, Federer, del Potro, Berdych, and Tipsarevic, are all first-strike hitters?  And Nadal and Djokovic are baseline counter-punchers that look to extend rallies and grind out points?  In their defeats, they both played too defensively and it cost them.

I'm not suggesting that the blue clay is perfect.  It is most certainly not.  But the fact of the matter is that the clay in Madrid has always had issues before this year, and yet the complaints are only coming out now because the blue clay was instated.  Tennis is a dynamic sport with many variables in wind, sun, heat, and court surface.  Adaptability was once a major part of the game, but now, with the homogenization of the courts, players are no longer forced to adapt to different court speeds.  Roger had this to say on that issue:

"When I came on Tour in '98 I had to adapt to different speeds very week.  These days players have same speed everywhere you go."

This is a mighty shame, and the fact that Roger played for a long time in an era where the courts were more diverse certainly allows him to speak wisely on the matter.  I am not even sure if Roger actually has much of a problem on the courts anymore, since he seems to be moving wonderfully.  Part of me thinks he just agreed with Nadal to avoid burning any bridges with him - since they have been butting heads recently.  However, he did say that, as tennis players, their job is to adapt to changing conditions they face.

Overall, Nadal and Djokovic have only hurt themselves by being negative about the blue courts and resigning themselves to disliking them, instead of trying to adapt and make the best of a bad situation.

It is unfortunate that the quality of tennis being played in this Madrid tournament has been overshadowed by this court controversy.  Federer and Ferrer put on a fine display of tennis, as did Federer and Raonic a few days ago.  There have been many captivating matches.  And, believe it or not, there have been no injuries this week in Madrid, whereas there were a few in Monte Carlo - so that is a point against the courts being a "safety hazard," as Nadal and Djokovic have stated numerous times.  Federer, del Potro, Berdych, and Tipsarevic are playing some of their best tennis of the year on this blue clay.

If Nadal and Djokovic choose not to return to Madrid next year, I will not mind, but it will be a major blow to tennis from a commercial standpoint, as the tournament won't have two of its top names, and Rafa, the event's most popular player, won't be there.  For all we know, next year, the blue clay will be much better and the two of them will have missed the event for no reason.  I do hope this matter gets settled within the year, because all this off-court drama is ruining the actual experience of watching elite tennis.

The semifinal matches should be fun.  We have Federer vs Tipsarevic and Berdych vs del Potro.  I would give the edge to Federer and Delpo, but the latter's match should be much closer.  Fed hasn't played Tipsarevic many times so he'll be on sharp alert for the Serb's highly effective play.

Trying to get through Madrid unscathed,



  1. 100% agree. Thanks for the article. They're very unprofessional

  2. Feel sorry for Nole and Rafa. The courts have been shocking this week. So many players have been complaining about the court and with good reason. They need need to stand up to SeƱor Tiriac for the good of the game. Not many good matches this week to talk about tbh. Hopefully next year Madrid will go back to normal and it won't be this circus, which it has turned into.