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!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Federer Breaks Grand Slam Win Record

Roger Federer picked up his record-breaking 234th win at a major on Wednesday with a 63 62 67(6) 63 in a tricky affair against Romanian Adrian Ungur.  To put 234 major wins into perspective, Jimmy Connors got to 233 when he was 39.  Roger is only 30.  Quite remarkable stuff.

The Fedster started off playing good tennis and took the first two sets rather comfortably.  The third set was much harder, as he saved two set points at 4-5 and then lost the tiebreak after being up 6-4.  However, he righted the ship at the start of the fourth set, gaining the early break and then racing to victory, taking the 4th set 6-3.

Full-stretch, but balanced.  Only the Maestro.

You can look at this match in two ways.  One, Roger wasn't at his best and was disappointing for losing a set in the 2nd round (especially after holding two match points in the breaker), or two, Roger got pushed by a massive underdog who played as well as he could and made Roger earn the win in the end.  I choose to look at it from the latter point of view.  Roger played very well in three of the four sets, and Ungur was going for broke on many shots and it paid off.

Generally, I think it is a good thing for Roger to get tested a little bit in the opening rounds of majors, so long as it does not bite into his stamina.  Through the first two rounds he has obviously not played anywhere near his best, but I expect him to up his level against his 3rd round opponent, Nicolas Mahut.  Mahut is a guy that Roger has played three times before and because he employs an aggressive, serve and volley game, the match should be easier on the body for Fed and he can practice those killer passing shots we have all come to know and love.

The only fear I have right now is that the path to the quarters may be a little too easy.  If Fed gets by Mahut easily, and then routines his 4th round match, then he will have to go straight into a slugfest with Berdych or del Potro (likely Berdych, as he has been on fire).  Although on the other hand, Roger could be match-tested which is always a very good thing against big hitters like Tomas or Juan Martin.


Other 2nd Round Action

- Novak Djokovic got by Blaz Kavcic 60 64 64.  Nole started very well and then trailed off towards the end, but a win is a win.  He now faces Nicolas Devilder of France in the 3rd round.

- Gilles Simon ended the Cinderella run of Brian Baker, picking up a 64 61 67(4) 16 60 win.  It has been a wonderful week for Baker, who had been off the tour for 6 years.  I firmly believe the guy could be a very good Top 50 player if he plays consistently over the next year.

- On the 4th round collision course, del Potro plays Marin Cilic in the 3rd round while Berdych plays big Kevin Anderson.  Tomas cruised by Michael Llodra while Delpo needed 4 sets to beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin.  Cilic could pose as an upset threat to Delpo and Anderson will be Berdych's toughest challenge yet.

- Milos Raonic looks determined to be Rafa's 4th round opponent, but he will have to get through #13 seed Juan Monaco if he hopes to do so.  That should be a great match.  Rafa had an easy time in his 2nd round with a 62 62 60 win over Denis Istomin.  Istomin had a few good break chances in the 2nd set but that was about it as far as the challenge he gave Nadal.  Rafa now plays Eduardo Schwank in the 3rd.

- Andy Murray fought off back troubles to beat Jarkko Nieminen 16 64 61 62.  He will next play clay specialist Santiago Giraldo, and that could be a tricky match if Andy's back flares up again.

- David Ferrer eased into the 3rd round after only losing 8 games.  He plays Dr. Mikhail Youzhny next.

- Richard Gasquet lost the first set to youngster Grigor Dimitrov but came back convincingly to win in four.  He will now play Tommy Haas in the 3rd round.  Haas, at 34, has shocked everyone by playing so well against Sergiy Stakhovsky, winning 62 63 62.  It should be a fantastic clash of one-handed backhanders, Haas and Gasquet.

- John Isner and Paul-Henri Mathieu dueled it out for over 5 hours before the Frenchman took the match 67(2) 64 64 36 18-16 in 5 hours and 41 minutes.  Mathieu finally converted on his 8th match point.

Winner after 5 hours 41 minutes!  Incredible.

There are some interesting third round matches on the lineup over the next few days.  Gilles Simon vs Stan Wawrinka, Delpo vs Cilic, Berdych vs Anderson, Raonic vs Monaco, Ferrer vs Youzhny, and Seppi vs Verdasco.  There was a potential to see Kohlschreiber vs Almagro but that was wiped out when Kohl disappointingly lost in straight sets to Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.

If you aren't exhausted by watching the 5th set of the Isner/Mathieu match, then good for you.  Enjoy the 3rd round action as we move towards the second week of Roland Garros 2012!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Federer Wins French Opener

Roger Federer advanced to the 2nd round in Paris with a 62 75 63 win over German Tobias Kamke.  It was Roger's 50th win at Roland Garros and his 233rd win at a major, tying him with Jimmy Connors.  Fed next plays Romanian Adrian Ungar, who upset David Nalbandian in four sets.

It was not a superb performance by Roger, as he hit 38 winners to 47 unforced errors, but in the 1st round, a win is what mainly matters.  He broke twice to win the first set and then went down a break in the second after some sloppy play, but then turned it around in time to win 5 of the next 6 games to take the second 7-5.  The third set was comfortable and had match points at 5-1 on Kamke's serve but could not convert.  He then got broken for the 3rd time on the day, but then broke right back to take the set 6-3, and thus, the match.

I'm sure Roger would have rather played a cleaner match, and he would have liked to have done things differently, but in the end, a straight sets win is a straight sets win.  Kamke was smashing the ball and going for broke (the only way he would have any chance at all) and it paid off for him as he gave Fed a little bit of trouble.  Still, it is the first round and Roger was obviously not playing with 100% intensity that he does in the later stages of Slams.


 More important than the win was that he equaled Connors' record of 233 match wins in Slams.   That is absolutely an amazing accomplishment considering Roger is only 30.  Jimmy was in his 40s when he got his 233rd match win at a Slam.  At this rate, Roger could easily add to his total and further the mark tenfold.  In a scenario where he makes all four semis at the majors, that is 20 wins a year, so he could easily push the 300 win mark by the end of his career.

Roger's draw opened up big time, and what at first seemed like a daunting draw has now turned very manageable.  He won't play Nalbandian in the 2nd round, who would have given him a good challenge.  He'll likely play Nicolas Mahut in the 3rd round, which should be easy.  In the 4th round, where he had Feliciano Lopez waiting, he will have an easy go (likely) as well because the Spaniard was forced to retire in his opener after the first 5 games (all of which he lost).  His four possible 4th round opponents are David Goffin, Arnaud Clement, Lukasz Kubot, and Florent Serra.  Needless to say, that could be the simplest 4th round draw he has had in ages.  I can't see Fed dropping a set until the quarters if he plays Ungar, Mahut, and then Goffin, Clement, Kubot, or Serra. (It will likely be Kubot - he has the best game at this point.)

Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro, and John Isner all advanced to the 2nd round.  Tsonga and Delpo had to win in 4 and Djokovic was pushed in the first set against Potito Starace before racing to the finish line in the final two sets. 

Gilles Simon (11), Fernando Verdasco (14), Stan Wawrinka (18), Milos Raonic (19), Marcel Granollers (20), Marin Cilic (21) Philipp Kohlschreiber (24), Andreas Seppi (22) , Bernard Tomic (25), Viktor Troicki (28), and Kevin Anderson (31) were the other seeds to advance.  Anderson saved four match points before winning 11-9 in the fifth set.  Alexandr Dolgopolov was down two sets to one and won the 4th before play was suspended.

Play on Tuesday will feature Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Janko Tipsarevic, Juan Monaco, Richard Gasquet, and the conclusion of two matches, Tommy Haas vs Filippo Volandri and Dog's 5th set vs Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Enjoy the tennis,


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Will The Stars Align For Federer?

The draw for the 2012 French Open came out on Friday, and unsurprisingly, Roger Federer was given a tough one while Rafael Nadal was basically given a cakewalk through to the final - unless a miracle shall strike down Paris.

Roger's start is easier than it was last year where he played Feliciano Lopez.  He takes on German Tobias Kamke, and I imagine it will be a scoreline of something like 63 62 63.  Next up is where it might get difficult, where he could (likely) play his former foe David Nalbandian.  The Argentine is a wiley veteran and cannot be taken lightly, but if Fed is playing well he should take it in 3 tough sets.  A 3rd round meeting with Andy Roddick may be in the books, but he must get through Nicolas Mahut in the 1st round.  Not an easy match for a guy that has struggled mightily almost all season long.  Whatever happens there, it should be very manageable for Roger to make it through to the Round of 16.  In said round, The Fed will likely play Radek Stepanek or Feliciano Lopez, both of whom are very beatable for an in-form Maestro.  The quarters is where it gets tricky though, with a potential match against Tomas Berdych or Juan Martin del Potro.  The Argentine would be the better option there.

Of the top four seeds, Federer certainly has the most daunting draw.  However, that may not be a bad thing.  Roger doesn't fear tough competition, and in fact, he actually looks forward to it I think.  He loves a challenge.  Last year at the French he had a tough draw and came through wonderfully, only dropping one set en route to the final.  We also saw the great play he displayed in Indian Wells and Mdarid where he also had draws on the tougher side of the spectrum.  I expect Roger to make the quarterfinals easily - adding to his streak - and then we'll see.  Berdych would be tough but he's played a lot of tennis lately.  Del Potro has a massive block against Fed now and I wouldn't see the big guy being much of a threat.

Could this happen again?  The odds say no, but you just never know.

In the end, whether or not Federer will pick up Slam #17 and his first in over 2 years will be what happens to Djokovic and Nadal.  Fed was drawn, once again, on Nole's half. (What else is new? They have been drawn on the same half in all 4 Slams in 2011, 3 in 2010, all 4 in 2009, and 3 in 2008.)  If he can get by Djokovic for the second straight year in the semis, then he will likely meet Rafa again in the final, which is of course Roger's toughest test in tennis.

The better scenario would be if Novak does go out before the semis and then Roger could get an easier match to save up some rest.  But that may not make any difference should a final with Rafa occur.  Speaking of Rafa, it looks like his hardest opponent before the final could be big serving Canadian Milos Raonic in the 4th round.  He's likely to play Tipsarevic in the quarters and then Murray or Ferrer in the semis.  Seeing as Andy has been completely off since the Australian Open, another clay court slugfest with Ferrer seems a lot more likely.

Should we see another Federer/Nadal final (which would be their 5th), the edge would obviously go to Rafa.  But, I have to say that Roger seems to play Nadal much smarter than he ever used to, and it has paid off.  The tactics he has utilized ever since Madrid last year have worked against him, if not all the time (when Roger abandoned them, ahem, Australian Open).  With Roger's improved mental stability in 2012, he could somehow find a way to take his chances, win the first set, and stick to the game plan.

Of course, that is looking way too far into the future, and that will be a topic to divulge further into when the final gets closer and we have a greater idea of who will be there.  As with any Slam, we can never truly count Roger out, even if he isn't a favourite to win any more over Nadal and Djokovic.  His experience coupled with his skill and hunger is a very powerful tool, and you just never know when it might be very advantageous for him.

Overall, it should be an enjoyable Slam.  I don't have winning expectations - that will be saved for Wimbledon and the US Open - but in tennis, unpredictability can rear its head at any time.  The stars may have to line up if Roger is going to win his 17th major title, but it happened before - in 2009 - if it can happen then, it can sure as hell happen now.  And with The Fedster feeling very comfortable on clay this year, as I have always said, you just never know.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

French Open: Three Horse Race?

Just around the corner of the French Open, it is logical to say that one of three men will walk away with the trophy on the final Sunday - Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, or Novak Djokovic.  All three men have been in good form and this year is one of the most even in terms of pre-tournament favourites for a very long time (perhaps 2005).

When you look at the numbers on the year thus far, it is fairly even.  Roger Federer has 4 titles (Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Madrid), Rafael Nadal has 3 titles (Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome), and Novak Djokovic has 2 titles (Australian Open and Miami).  All three players have only failed to make the semifinals of a tournament once (Federer in Miami, Djokovic and Nadal in Madrid).  Nadal is 33-4, Federer is 31-4 (31-3 without DC), and Djokovic is 30-5.

Since Nadal is the King of Clay and has won the French Open six times, he is definitely the favourite.  He also seems to be back to his very best with a great clay season, winning three of four events he played.  Unlike last year, when there may have been a seed of doubt that he would win the French Open, all that has been erased in 2012.

Roger Federer has been in great form for the past 8 months, winning 7 of 11 tournaments entered dating back to the US Open.  His play in 2012 has brought back memories of the days of dominance from 2004-2007.  He has won 8 of his 9 clay matches coming into the French Open, and picked up his first clay title (on blue clay, no less) in 3 years.  His mental strength has also been top notch, rivaling the old days when he came through tough matches time and time again.

Federer looked good in his first practice at Roland Garros!

Novak Djokovic, not surprisingly, has not had the same year in 2012 that he had in 2011.  It has not been bad by any means, as he has won two titles, one a Slam, and made another two finals, both losses to Nadal.  But the invincibility he possessed seems to be gone, at least for the time being.  He suffered disappointing losses to Murray, Isner, Tipsarevic, and Nadal (in Rome, he was obviously going through emotional turmoil in Monte Carlo after his grandfather passed away).  He is still a formidable force however, don't get me wrong.  He will have plenty of motivation to win the French Open, for it would be his 4th straight Slam, the "Nole Slam."

Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic are all confident heading into Roland Garros this year.  A betting man would probably be crazy to pick anyone other than them.  Of course, you have your Ferrers, del Potros, Murrays, Tsongas, and Berdychs that may pose a challenge in the later stages of the tournament, but with the way the top three are playing, I wouldn't count on anything but one of Rafa, Roger, or Novak standing with the trophy in Paris on that fateful final day.

Keep wagging that finger!

The draw will play a big part in Federer's chances, surely.  If he is drawn in Djokovic's half, he will have another great chance to make the final.  It will be more difficult if he lands on Rafa's side.  Murray will doubtfully pose any kind of threat with his poor play recently, and adding to that, he has a back injury which he says has bothered him all year.

Whatever may happen, it should be a wonderful tournament and I only hope that we get to see some good tennis and that the draws are made evenly. (No Nadal getting three Spaniards in a row.)  Without a doubt, Rafa must be looked at as the favourite, but with Roger's great form, and the unpredictability of tennis, you just never know.  A hot player could run into Rafa and eliminate him like Soderling did in 2009.  The draw could make things very difficult for the top guys and pose a real threat before they even make the semifinals.

Enjoy the French Open 2012, and may we be blessed with some stellar matches and fine play from all the top players.  There are countless potential matches that could set up enticing battles, but at the end of the day, the three men to beat are still the top 3, Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer.  Until a proven foe steps up and challenges their supremacy, I see it being no other way.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Federer Ousted in Rome Semis

Roger Federer's 8-match winning streak on clay came to an end on Saturday in the Rome semifinals, as he was defeated by Novak Djokovic 62 76(4) in the pair's first meeting since the US Open last year.

Right from the start, Djokovic looked like he had something to prove and Federer came out a little flat.  Nole got two breaks in a lopsided first set which wasn't really competitive at all.  The second set was more of the same and Djokovic got the break midway through the set, surely spelling out Federer's end in the match.  But at 5-3, Roger saved a match point and broke back, changing the momentum on a dime.  He led 6-5 but was unable to break and then Djokovic only needed one mini-break to take the tiebreak seven points to four.

Roger lacked the same sharpness he had showed in his three previous matches, and it cost him.  His first serve percentage was low for much of the match, and Djokovic was firing on all cylinders.  I have no doubt that Nole was seeking a statement-making win that he hadn't really had since the Australian Open.  As for Roger, he played some superb tennis to get to the semis and after people were skeptical about him needing red clay practice before Roland Garros, he definitely got some good matches under his belt heading to Paris.

With the great form Roger has displayed all year, this loss is not a worrying sign.  Not in the least.  Before this loss, he had racked up a 25-1 record since the Australian Open (excluding Davis Cup), winning 4 titles, 2 of them Masters.  f there is anything I have learned about tennis, it is that great form cannot be kept forever, and Roger's recent remarkable run was bound to hit a bump in the road at some point.  And I believe it's better to lose to Djokovic than lose to Rafa in the final, or lose in an earlier round.  Now, there is a 50/50 chance Roger keeps the #2 heading into Paris.

So now we get to see a Nadal vs Djokovic final with heavy implications for Roger.  Rafa did win their Monte Carlo final decisively, but Nole obviously had personal issues at that time which hindered his play.  Now, he will be motivated, determined, and fiery - the same Djokovic we saw last year take out Nadal six times.  I am not particularly looking forward to the contest because they are pretty predictable in terms of content - it is really just a war of attrition.  A Djokovic win would be nice, though.  I really only care about the result.

Looking ahead to the French Open for Roger (albeit, very early), things look really good.  This loss to Djokovic does not mean much in the big picture.  Roger won Madrid, and played very well in Rome and did everything he needed to do to prepare for the French Open.  Taking off Monte Carlo may have been a wise move.  We shall see in the coming weeks if that added rest will give him an edge.

If someone told me in January that Fed would be 31-4 (31-3) with 4 titles and 2 Masters crowns, and would be playing sensational tennis that brought back memories of his glory days, I would have thought they were crazy.  The bottom line is that Roger has put himself in a great position to have a great year and that is all we can ask from him.  He has given us so much joy this year and I cannot wait to see what Roland Garros will bring.

I will also bring up the numbers again, because they are just incredible.  Since the US Open (excluding Davis Cup), Roger is 46-3 (48-4 with DC) with 7 titles and 3 Masters.  He regained the #2 ranking and just may keep it for a while if Djokovic can defeat Rafa in the final.  One of the best runs of his career at 30 years old.  Not bad Mr Federer, not bad at all.  We salute you.  Upwards and onwards to Paris!


Federer Masterclass in Rome Quarters

Roger Federer needed only 54 minutes to plow through Andreas Seppi in a 61 62 beatdown.  For the second straight night, Federer had a late match, and he was in no mood to stay on court for a long time, so he brought out his best tennis and never gave the Italian home-favourite a chance.

Federer raced to a quick 5-0 lead and wrapped up the set 6-1 in 19 minutes.  It was more of the same in the second set, although he fought off some resistance by Seppi.  However, the result was the same as the Italian never truly had a chance.  After his emotional victory over Wawrinka, where he saved six match points, he had nothing left in the tank, and against Roger, that spells your doom.  Fed played even more aggressive than he did versus Ferrero and just tired Seppi out more and more as the match progressed.

For Seppi, beating Wawrinka took so much out of him.  He was already in deep trouble completely fresh, but after a draining match like the one he came through just takes so much out of you as a player.  The same thing happened to Andy Roddick in Miami; he climbed his Mount Everest in beating Roger and then had nothing left in the tank for his match against Monaco in the next round.  This was much of the same kind of thing with Seppi.

As for Roger, he continues to look stellar.  His aggression seems to know no bounds in this tournament, as he is swiping the fuzz right off the ball time and time again with deadly laser-like forehands and backhands.  Honestly, this may be as well as I've seen Roger play on clay in a very long time - maybe Madrid 2009 was the last time I recall him being this decisive in his shot-making ability.  Whatever happens next in this tournament, it does not matter, because The Fed is looking absolutely lethal going into the French Open.

Federer's backhand in particular is firing on all cylinders.  He is not afraid to take the shot down the line, the lower percentage play, so you know he is really feeling it.  His backhand return has also been superb, as he is not chipping returns back with as much frequency as we are used to; he is driving them cross-court, down the line, or right down the middle, which is many times the best play to catch an opponent off guard.

Overall, Fed is just seeing the ball so well and his play has been simply sensational as a result.  His mind is so fresh right now which allows him to instantaneously pick out the right shot to hit in any given situation.  When Roger gets it going like this, it is simply magnificent to watch.


In the other quarterfinal matches on the day, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and David Ferrer all advanced to the semis.  Djokovic battled through a tough first set against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to have an easier second, winning 75 61.  Rafa faced a tough test in Tomas Berdych, but impressed in a 64 75 win.  David Ferrer ended Gasquet's good tournament by defeating the Frenchman 76(4) 63.  All three results were expected, so nothing much to talk about.

The semifinal action features Federer vs Djokovic and Ferrer vs Nadal.  It will be the first meeting between Roger and Novak since the US Open last year.  By my account, Roger has everything it takes to defeat the World #1.  He is 3-1 on clay against Djokovic, and besides that, he has been playing phenomenally well, and as good as Djokovic has looked in bouncing back from Madrid, it might just be Roger's time to get some revenge for that loss in the US Open last year.

Whatever happens, we as tennis fans should be in for a great treat on Semifinal Saturday with two compelling matches.  I predict we will see a Federer vs Nadal Rome final, with Roger winning in 3 and Rafa winning in 2 (tight) sets.  If Roger can get by Djokovic, a match with Rafa would be sensational, and I truly think he could defeat him - but I shall wait to see if that possibility needs to be discussed come the end of play in the semis.

Enjoy the tennis,


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Federer Prevails in 3rd Round

Roger Federer needed one more set than he would have liked to beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 3rd round of the Italian Open in Rome, but he still won comfortably in the end, 62 57 61.  It was the first meeting between Federer and Ferrero since Wimbledon 2007.

A few games into the match, Roger ran away with the first set in half an hour.  He played sublime tennis and was hitting incredible winners from every part of the court like only The Fed can.  The second set was more difficult, and Roger played lackadaisically, while Ferrero maxed his game, creating a break for the Spaniard in the 11th game.  He held after being down 0-30 and won the 2nd set 7-5, shockingly.  However, the set win was a momentary win as Fed got up an early break in the 3rd to take charge.  He added another break to take the match, 62 57 61 in an hour and forty-seven minutes.

Roger got through the match while serving at only 51%, which is quite frankly outstanding (that he came through in 6-2 and 6-1 sets, not the serve percentage).  The quality of play in sets one and three was so good that he did not need to rely on his serve to make things happen.  Added to that, Ferrero served at 79 percent.  Overall, it was a fine match on both sides: we saw the great, stylistic play of Federer and we also saw the best of Ferrero, which is great to see at his age (32).

Federer used all his variety to stun the audience; he hit forehand and backhand winners equally brilliantly, and he mixed in some drop shot masterpieces as well as some cute drop shot fakes, which always bring thoughts of Roger trolling his opponent.  As some commentators would say, the weapon had been sharpened, and his full repertoire was on display (which is a much fuller repertoire than anyone else).

Novak Djokovic needed three sets to get through Juan Monaco 46 62 63.  On the contrary, Rafael Nadal breezed by Marcel Granollers in a double breadstick, 61 61.  Berdych beat Almagro, Ferrer beat Simon, Tsonga beat del Potro, and Richard Gasquet upset Andy Murray 67(1) 63 62. (Ironically, this is the second straight year Gasquet has upset a top player in the 3rd round, as last year he beat Roger in the 3rd round as well.)  Andreas Seppi overcame Stan Wawrinka in three tiebreak sets, saving 6 match points to amaze his home crowd.

Where Seppi had his dream performance and became a hero in front of his Italian crowd, Andy Murray keeps struggling.  Since Dubai, Andy has not made it to the semifinals of all but one tournament (Miami), losing to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the 2nd round of Indian Wells, Berdych and Raonic in the quarters of Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and now here vs Gasquet in Rome.  Things are not looking good for his Roland Garros chances.  Should he go out early there, it makes it all the more important that Roger have the chance to be on the opposite side of the draw from Djokovic and Nadal, if possible.

The quarterfinal matches are as follows:

(1) Novak Djokovic vs (5) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
(2) Rafael Nadal vs (7) Tomas Berdych
(3) Roger Federer vs Andreas Seppi
(6) David Ferrer vs (16) Richard Gasquet

The biggest chance for an upset is likely Berdych vs Rafa, if only for how great Berdych played in Madrid, and he seems to have carried the momentum over.  I can't see Seppi beating Roger of course, and Djokovic should take care of Tsonga, but you just never know with Jo.  Ferrer should handle Gasquet, even if Richard does play very well on this Rome surface.

Had to add this picture.  Mayer's eyes make me laugh.

So, onto the quarters we go.  If Fed wins, then Rafa will need to win the title to get back the #2 spot before the French Open.  May the best of luck to all of them and may the best man win.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Federer Breezes Through Rome Opener

Three days after winning his 20th Masters title in Madrid against Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer stormed through his first match in Rome against Carlos Berlocq, winning 63 64 in just over an hour.  Roger will next play former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 3rd round.

It was a simple match for Federer overall, which is a good sign after his status for the tournament was questionable after the win in Madrid.  Roger got the early break and held out from there to take the first.  He also got an early break in the second before getting broken back by the 38th ranked Berlocq.  However, Roger broke again in the 9th game and consolidated the break to win the match.

The first thing I noticed about the change from Madrid to Rome was how much harder it was to pick up the ball on the orange clay of Rome as opposed to how easy it was to find the ball in Madrid.  Say what you will about the surface, but it made the viewing experience much better.

A good sign for Roger's game is that he has continued to be as aggressive as he was in Madrid.   He played 23 points at the net, winning 18 of them.  It is always good to see Roger come in to the net, even on clay; it means he is the one dictating rallies, and when he does that, he is practically unbeatable.

In other action of the 2nd round, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic came through in straights against Florian Mayer and Bernard Tomic.  Andy Murray needed three sets to fight through David Nalbandian, and on his birthday no less.  John Isner was disappointing yet again in a loss against Andreas Seppi - his chances of doing well at the French Open appear to be getting worse and worse.

The 3rd round lineup looks very good:

(1) Novak Djokovic vs (14) Juan Monaco
(2) Rafael Nadal vs Marcel Granollers
(3) Roger Federer vs Juan Carlos Ferrero
(4) Andy Murray vs (16) Richard Gasquet
(5) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs (10) Juan Martin del Potro
(6) David Ferrer vs (11) Gilles Simon *
(7) Tomas Berdych vs (12) Nicolas Almagro
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Andreas Seppi

(*: Match of the Round)

Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer should win in straights.  All the other matches could go one way or the other.  For Roger in particular, if he gets by Ferrero, he should have a safe path to the semis, because his quarterfinal opponent will be Wawrinka or Seppi, two guys that can't beat Roger when he's playing like this.  Isner was the only guy in Fed's quarter I could see doing damage, and he went out.

Until next time,


Monday, May 14, 2012

Federer Wins Madrid, Regains #2

Fed has won Madrid indoors, on red clay, and on blue clay.

 What a week of tennis for the Swiss legend, Roger Federer.  Coming off an extended break after Miami, the Maestro captured his 4th title and 20th Masters crown, as well as regaining the #2 ranking from Rafael Nadal.  He was forced to bring his very best to the court against Tomas Berdych, whom Roger defeated 36 75 75 in an epic comeback where the Fedmeister was pushed to his limits both mentally and physically.

Slippy slidey, clay style.

In the first set, Berdych came out on fire.  He quickly latched on to a 3-0 lead and held from there, winning it 6-3.  Fed did not really play badly (apart from one error in judgment at 1-0 30-30 which lead to dropping his serve) but Berdych was killing the ball and hitting winners all throughout the court.  It was a classic example of a big man stretching the limits of his powers and not giving his opponent any say in the matter.

Oddly enough, I was still very confident about Roger's chances to win the title.  Surely the Berd could not keep up that astonishing level of play another set?  I was right, at least at the beginning.  Roger played better and got an early break to go up 3-0.  At 5-3, he was broken, and it looked like a tiebreak would be coming, a scary thought for Federer fans.  Thankfully, Roger had other plans and broke the Czech's serve to take the 2nd set 7-5.

The shoes.  The racket.  The fist.  The roar.  The hair.  Gotta love it.

 The third set was incredible.  Federer went down 0-30 in each of his first three service games but somehow escaped them.  Then at 4-3, Roger got a break, and he would be serving for the match.  The Master could not close it out, however, and was broken.  Both men held serve until 6-5 Roger when Fed avoided a second tiebreak by breaking in the final game to win the match.  Stellar.

The Keys To Victory:

For Roger, there were two reasons why he won the match amidst constant pressure the entire match:  his serve and his mental toughness.  Both of these assets have been incredible in 2012 thus far but both really shined in this final.  Numerous times in the final two sets, Roger came up with an ace or an unreturnable to avoid trouble.  In nearly every game on his serve, Berdych tested him, getting to 30 or deuce on many occasions.  A Roger Federer of 2011 may have buckled under that kind of pressure.  Not the RF of 2012. 

That kind of win for Roger really showcased his improved mental abilities.  In the 2nd and 3rd sets when he relinquished break leads, he did not get down on himself and just kept his foot on the gas.  Both times, he avoided going to a tiebreak.  He was clutch when he needed to be and considering how well Berdych was playing, it was a monumental victory.

Roger Federer, suit up!

Looking Ahead:

Federer has temporarily gained the #2 ranking with his win in Madrid.  Whether or not he retains it heading into the French Open depends on the proceedings in Rome.  It is questionable whether or not Roger will play.  If he doesn't, he will lose the #2 ranking.  If he does play and makes the semis while Rafa does not win the tournament, he retains it.  But should Rafa win, it does not matter what Roger does, he will fall back to #3.

Roger did say he was feeling some minor injuries in Madrid, and it was rumoured to be noticeable in the final.  I did not think so.  First of all, Roger doesn't serve well when he has a hip/back issue, and he certainly doesn't move well.  Yet, in the final, he served incredibly well under pressure, and in the second last point of the match, Roger ran across the baseline three times in a fantastic defensive effort. (Can't move well on blue clay, huh?) 

I have no doubt that Roger wasn't feeling 100%, but he still played amazingly well and he usually doesn't if he is feeling any ill effects on the body.  His decision on Rome will be made on Tuesday likely, and it will likely be based on his goals.  If he wants to get more preparation before the French Open, he will probably play.  If he does not care about holding the #2, he will not play.  His health is also an issue to take into consideration, but nobody really knows his physical condition but him.

Overall, it was a marvelous week of tennis and we should all feel blessed that we get to witness Roger play such stunning tennis at his age and at this point in his career.  He continues to defy the odds and has once again but himself in a position to be a real threat in the upcoming majors - just the way it should be, if you ask me.

Fun times for the Federer family!

 I'd also like to speak a little about Roger's mother, Lynette, and his wife, Mirka, since the win took place on Mother's Day.  If it wasn't for Fed's mom, he probably wouldn't be the person he is today, and I believe a lot of his charming personality comes from his upbringing.  And Mirka, Fed's longtime companion.  It is often overlooked how important she is to Roger's success.  As an athlete in any sport, your personal life is important, especially in tennis where they travel all over the world.  Roger's stable life off the tennis courts has contributed to his great success on them, and Mirka deserves credit for being there all these years in Roger's box, supporting him unconditionally.

All the best until next time,


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Federer Cruises To Madrid Finals

Roger Federer was at his varietal best against Janko Tipsarevic in the Madrid semifinals, winning 62 63 in a dominating performance.  With a title win in the finals, Federer will regain the #2 ranking from Rafael Nadal, although holding it heading into the French Open will depend on what happens in Rome should that happen.

Tipsarevic had been playing well all week, but he could not handle what Federer was throwing at him - the slices, drop shots, off-speed angled loopers - basically everything that makes Federer the most varied player in the history of the game.  Roger did not drop serve and only faced one break point.  He has not been broken since the first set of the tournament - 8 straight sets now of holds.  When he's serving that well, he is one hard player to beat.

Does this shot go in?  Hard to tell.

Tomas Berdych posted a 76(5) 76(6) win over Juan Martin del Potro, giving the Argentine his first clay court loss of the year.  The Czech has been hot all week long and has not dropped a set.  The blue clay obviously suits his big-hitting game and he should be Federer's greatest test of the week.

The Final

The match for the title should be very closely contested and I imagine it will be similar to that of Roger's first match of the week with Raonic - great serving, short points, and attacking tennis.  Berdych is well armed and extremely dangerous and if he gets on a roll, Roger will need to be at his very best to stop him.  On the other hand, Berdych is a big man, and Roger does well against big men in maneuvering them around the court and making them feel uncomfortable.  He will likely use the same tactics he uses against del Potro, who he's beaten four times in 2012 already.

Federer has been serving supremely well all week long.

Here's hoping Roger will showcase his best tennis and pick up his 4th title of the season, his 20th Masters, and his 74th career title, as well as the #2 ranking.  He will need to be as sharp as he has been all week (and maybe even more) but I am confident he can do it.  Gaining the #2 ranking would be a sort of culmination of all the hard work he has put in since the US Open to improve his game, and it would be very rewarding.

All the best,


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,


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Federer Cruises Into Quarters

After avoiding early elimination in Madrid at the hands of Milos Raonic, Roger Federer had a much easier time in the 3rd round, dispatching Richard Gasquet 63 62 in 58 minutes.  It was a very one-sided match from start to finish, but it was beneficial for Roger to get off the court quickly as he had been on court for over two hours against Raonic.

Federer looked much better overall against the Frenchman than he did against the Canadian, although Gasquet was much easier competition.  He had also made the final of Estoril last week so he was playing on short rest.  Still, this match was all Federer, and predictably so.  The Swiss Master always plays incredibly well coming off the heels of a tight match, and this one was no different.

Oh Roger....

Next up, The Fed will play David Ferrer, whom he holds a 12-0 record against.  Ferrer saved a few match points to beat countryman (and one of my favourite players) Nicolas Almagro in a 10-8 third set tiebreak.  Ferrer has been a guy that has never truly given Roger any real trouble, but clay is his best surface, and he did push Fed to three sets in Madrid two years ago.  If Roger is on his game though, he should win in the end.  Ferrer has played a lot of tennis this year and Fed seems to be comfortable on the blue clay movement-wise, so I do not see him losing.

The biggest upset of the day, by far, was Fernando Verdasco defeating Rafael Nadal for the first time ever, 63 36 75.  He had previously gone 13 matches without a win, but as the saying goes, "nobody beats Fernando Verdasco fourteen times in a row."  It was a back-and-forth match right from the start, and it was as if neither player wanted to win.  There were many breaks for both guys.  In the end, Nadal lost 5 straight games from 5-2 up in the 3rd set and lost very uncharacteristically.

Happiest moment of his life?  Maybe.

After the match, Nadal cited that he would not play in Madrid next year if the courts remain blue.  I can almost guarantee he would not be saying the same thing had he not been taken out in the 3rd round and went onto, say, win the event.  Of course, the blue clay has been criticized a lot by many of the top players, but the bottom line is that everyone is playing on the same court, so Rafa can't really use it as an excuse when other players are flourishing on the new colour (say, Federer, del Potro, Verdasco....).

Rafa's early exit opens up his half of the draw for Juan Martin del Potro to quietly sneak into the finals, which he seems likely to do.  He manhandled Marin Cilic 62 64.  In other action, Djokovic edged Stan Wawrinka 76(5) 64, Berdych destroyed Monfils 61 61, and there were many close three set matches; Janko Tipsarevic beat Gilles Simon 76(3) 57 61, while Alexandr Dolgopolov upset Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 75 36 76(2).

It looks very likely we will see a Federer vs Djokovic semifinal.  The quarterfinal matches are as follows:

(1) Novak Djokovic vs (7) Janko Tipsarevic
(3) Roger Federer vs (5) David Ferrer
(6) Tomas Berdych vs (15) Fernando Verdasco
(10) Juan Martin del Potro vs (16) Alexandr Dolgopolov

In my view, this is Federer's tournament to lose now.  Djokovic has not looked like the same player since the Australian Open in my estimation, and I honestly think Roger can beat him.  Delpo would be his biggest threat of a potential finalist, and even though Roger has not lost a set against the Argentine in their past 5 meetings, the big man is very dangerous, and Fed knows that.

I am thinking way too far into the future though.  Roger has one thing on the mind right now, and that is getting by David Ferrer, who is not one to take lightly (not that Roger ever takes anyone lightly, he is too professional).


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Federer Fights Through Madrid Opener

Roger Federer fought off a tremendous challenge in his opening round from rising Canadian star Milos Raonic to win 46 75 76(4) in two hours and thirteen minutes.  It was Federer's first match in over a monh since he lost in the 3rd round of Miami to Andy Roddick.

The Canadian gave Roger a mighty test, as expected.  Both men held comfortably until 4-4 in the first set when Fed played a poor game and coughed up the break.  Raonic held to take the first set 6-4.  Throughout the entire set, Raonic did not give up a point when getting the first serve into play.  In the 2nd, it was more of the same until 6-5.  Fed had come through some tough holds, and it was the time to strike.  For the first time in the match, Roger was able to get a read on the Raonic serve and played his best tennis of the day, securing the break on his second chance to knot the match at a set apiece.  The 3rd set was also very even and ended up in a tiebreak, where Fed raised his level once again and won the match with a beautiful cross-court forehand winner past his tall opponent.

Federer was at the net 34 times, winning 19 of those points.

Overall, the match is what I expected.  It was a serve-dominated affair, and the games were filled with easy holds and short points, which did not give either player much rhythm from the back of the court.  For the first two sets, the Canadian's serve was unstoppable, and he won the first 44 points of the tournament when he got his first serve into play (amazing!).  Roger was struggling on the return and to a lesser extent on the ground, but Raonic was playing very well and he really gave it everything he had.  Fed had to put forth an amazing effort to pull through.

It's always nice to see Roger come through in tough matches.  I am of the belief that the more tight matches you win, the more confidence it gives you, and that can only be a good thing.  The length of the match will not be an issue heading forward - it was over two hours but the play was not physically demanding with many short points.  It was also interesting to see Roger serve and volley a lot throughout the match.  It nearly cost him at times when he did it too often and became predictable, but it was effective when he came into the net after hitting a high-kicking serve to the corner on the ad side.  Fed had this to say about that tactic:

 "I thought I could take it to him by serving and volleying and it worked a bit.  I definitely started to get a better read on his serve and to get into more baseline rallies, make him hit more shots on his own serve."

Roger now plays Richard Gasquet in the 3rd round.  He will be looking to gain revenge for the defeat he suffered in Rome last year.  In my view, the match will be easier for Fed than the Raonic one because he'll be able to attack the serve much easier and it will be a more traditional clay baseline game.


To recap the rest of Round Deux:

-  Rafa Nadal was not tested at all against Nikolay Davydenko.  Historically, Niko has been able to give Rafa problems, but since this match was on clay, Davy really had little chance.
-  Novak Djokovic needed three sets to get by Daniel Gimeno-Traver.  It was a pretty bad match by Nole for his standards.  No doubt he will come back with a better effort in Round 3 though.
-  The biggest upset of the 2nd round was Marin Cilic knocking out John Isner.  The straight sets loss (two tiebreaks) won't be good for the big man's confidence as he heads into the French Open.
-  Tsonga, Ferrer, Berdych, Tipsarevic, Almagro, del Potro, Monfils, Simon, and Verdasco all advanced to the 3rd round.  All won in straight sets with the exception of Tipsarevic, who needed two and a half hours to beat 131st ranked Argentinian Federico Delbonis.

There are many compelling 3rd round matches:

(1) Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka
(2) Rafael Nadal vs (15) Fernando Verdasco
(3) Roger Federer vs (14) Richard Gasquet
(4) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs (16) Alexandr Dolgopolov
(5) David Ferrer vs (11) Nicolas Almagro *
(6) Tomas Berdych vs (12) Gael Monfils
(7) Janko Tipsarevic vs (9) Gilles Simon
(10) Juan Martin del Potro vs Marin Cilic

(*:  My pick for Match of the Round)

Should be a great day of tennis!  I am very happy that Federer beat Raonic because I would be very disappointed if he was to be away for over a month and then lose in his first match back!


Saturday, May 05, 2012

2012 Madrid Draw

Roger Federer has his work cut out for him at the 2012 Mutua Madrid Open, which will be played on blue clay for the first time ever.

Check out the draw here:


Roger has a very tough draw in his first clay event of the 2012 season.  He will either face old foe David Nalbandian or young rising Canadian star Milos Raonic in his opening match.  He will have practically no time at all to get into prime match shape as both are dangerous opponents.  Fed had to be at his best to get by Raonic in Indian Wells a few months ago and Nalbandian always poses a threat - he was Fed's hardest opponent before Nadal came along for a reason.  Raonic also beat Andy Murray in the Barcelona quarters last week and definitely does not mind playing on clay, even though he is a better hard court player.

Should Roger get by his tough opener, he should make it to the semifinals.  He's likely to get Richard Gasquet or Thomaz Bellucci in the 3rd round, whom, while tough players, are beatable if Roger is at his best.  I know Fed will want to avenge his clay defeat at Rome last year should he face Gasquet.  In the quarters, David Ferrer awaits.  David is a guy that always gives Roger a tough match but has never been able to get a victory against him.  He would give Roger a stern test, but again, if the Fed plays his best, I don't think Ferrer will be able to win.

Rafa has a simple draw, made even simpler by the fact that Andy Murray will not be playing.  He withdrew due to a back injury.  Nadal will get either Davydenko or Karlovic in his opening match.  Either one of them theoretically could pose a challenge but they will likely not.  Verdasco is the likely 3rd round opponent but Rafa pretty much owns him on clay.  Berdych or Monfils are set to play him in the quarters.  Overall, Berdych is the biggest challenge for Rafa until the semis where he will face Isner, del Potro, or the #4 seed, Tsonga, barring any upsets.

Djokovic also has an easy draw.  After a qualifier in his opener, he'll (likely) play Stan Wawrinka or Feliciano Lopez.  After that, Gilles Simon or countryman Janko Tipsarevic are his potential quarterfinal opponents.  It will be interesting to see what frame of mind Novak is in after the passing of his grandfather, and whether or not he will be affected at all by the beating he took from Nadal in Monte Carlo.  I personally hope he isn't because a Federer vs Djokovic match would be fun to watch.

Juan Martin del Potro is the dark horse in this tournament.  The clay and altitude suit his style of game and it would be absolutely lovely to see him get a win over Rafa in the semis.  My dream scenario is one where Roger beats Djokovic in the semis, then beats Delpo in the finals after the big Argentine takes out the Spaniard.  As of this writing, Delpo is in the final of Estoril against Gasquet, so he should be in great form looking to cause trouble for the top players.

Even though Federer has a very daunting draw, I am confident he can get through to the semis unscathed.  He usually does very well when faced with a tough draw, and recent evidence of this can be drawn from Indian Wells, where he had to go through Raonic, Bellucci, del Potro, Nadal, and Isner to win.  The Madrid clay has arguably been his best clay surface since 2009 and he definitely wants to get his clay season off on the right foot. 

The famous finger wag.

Here's hoping for a great tournament and hopefully in the end, title #4 of 2012 for Roger!  It will be difficult, but I have complete confidence in Roger's ability to come out on top in the end.  Tennis has been very dull to me since Roger lost to Roddick in Miami over a month ago, so with the Swiss Genius back, I am starting to get tennis fever again.  And just in time too, because I will be playing tennis again for the first time in 8 months next week.

Enjoy the tennis, blue clay style,