Let's call this my return.....
Roger Federer advanced to the semifinals of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati with a 63 75 win over struggling Andy Murray in a match where he recovered from a *4-1 deficit to win six of the last seven games against the 2013 Wimbledon champion.
Roger said after the match he felt he got a little lucky, and perhaps he did. But let me tell you this - with the way Roger has been attacking the net recently (even if it hasn't always been successful), he has earned his luck by putting constant pressure on his opponents. Coming to net as much as he has been doing has been a very valuable part of his game this season, not only because it limits the amount of long points he plays, but because of the gradual effects it has on the guy across the net. He may get passed once, twice, or five times, but attacking the forecourt so much asks the question. As the net player, you ask "you passed me there, can you do it again?"
Murray, who is one of the best passers in the game, yet even he felt the pressure of Roger coming in so much. That's the value of rushing your opponent, and that's what the classic serve-volleyers like Edberg, Sampras, Becker, Rafter, and McEnroe understood so well.
Roger's volleying has been curious however the last two weeks. His net play overall hasn't been horrible, but he definitely doesn't look completely sure of his ability when he approaches to hit a putaway volley, usually down the line. However, when he comes in and is forced to hit a low shoestring volley or half-volley, and then is forced to hit a second volley, he's done very well. So to say that his volleying overall has been terrible would be wrong in my opinion, but it still is curious that he is struggling with the simpler volleys but is doing better with the tougher ones. It could be the racquet, or just a matter of thinking one thing and doing another, but he has to get it fixed before it costs him a match.
Stefan Edberg's greatest effect on Federer's game has been his quicker approach to the net and better positioning. He seems to have taught Roger that you don't have to finish it off in one swing. Whenever Roger comes in and hits a volley that hasn't won the point, he's been doing a great job at staying close to the net and not giving up ground. We saw that against Monfils when he hit a heavy drop volley, stayed strong at net, and cut off a cross-court pass for a great reflex volley.
Federer's semifinal opponent will be Milos Raonic, a man who he is 5-0 against, though he did have three deciding-set wins in 2012 against the big-serving Canadian. Simply put, if Roger holds serve, he will have a great chance of winning. Raonic has only broken once in the 15 sets they have contested, or 1 out of 79 attempts. Roger's serve looks mostly on song so I don't think he'll struggle to hold if he is getting a good first serve percentage.
From now to the end of the year I'll be writing more often. I apologize for stopping, as I was dealing with some personal issues in my life and needed to focus on other things.
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!