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, February 28, 2013

Dubai QF: Federer routs Davydenko

Roger Federer eased into the Dubai semifinals with a swift 6-2, 6-2 win over his long-time rival Nikolay Davydenko. The Swiss broke twice in each set and played his best match since the Australian Open.

Federer served at 76% for the match, which was easily his best serving day since the 4th round in Melbourne against Milos Raonic. He only lost five points on his first serve and three on his second. As we all know, serving well is very important for Roger, and he will need to serve great just like he did in this match if he wants to win the title at the end of the week.

Next up in the semis is Tomas Berdych who swatted away Dmitry Tursunov. The Czech is in great form recently and he beat Federer at the US Open in the quarterfinals. You have to believe that Roger will be very motivated to get some revenge, but it will be difficult as Tomas always seems to play well against him.

The key to the match will be the serve and return. If he can pressure Berdych early and often he will be able to win a lot of cheap points and that will help him have success. The longer the rallies go the more they will favour Berdych unless Roger can hit the corners frequently and move the big man around. Another factor could be wind, which has been a part o the play quite a bit this week. Berdych is not a good wind player with his high ball toss on the serve, and if it is windy he could have trouble with that shot.

Federer has been getting better with each match he plays, and he will need to continue with that pattern if he wants to come through and challenge for the title on Saturday against Djokovic or del Potro.

Should be a good day of tennis, can't wait.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dubai R2: Federer beats Granollers

Roger Federer advanced into the Dubai quarterfinals with a routine 6-3, 6-4 win over Marcel Granollers in just over hour.

The Swiss Maestro broke in the sixth game of the first set and held out to take it without much trouble. The second set was slightly more competitive but Roger broke in the fifth game and held out once again to win the match without too many hiccups. He saved a few break points in the second set but was too much for the Spaniard to handle.

Interestingly enough, Roger also faced Granollers two years ago in the second round and won 6-3, 6-4 as well. He was broken in that match though, and he wasn't in this one. He served pretty well and played great off the ground. His backhand was as good as it's been it quite a while and some of the passes he hit off that side were exquisite. Granollers made him many solid returns and passing shots as he attacked the net quite a lot, with volleys being the strong suit of his game. The Spaniard is still in the tournament in doubles with partner Marc Lopez.

Next up is a match against Nikolay Davydenko in the quarters. They just played a month ago in the Australian Open where Fed won easily. The quick Dubai courts suit both players' games better than the Melbourne courts however, and as usual, it should be a good match with many extended clean-hitting baseline rallies. Davydenko is hit and miss these days but he has played well this week and upset Janko Tipsarevic in the 1st round.

Also, watch out for Djokovic vs Seppi, which goes on before Federer vs Davydenko. Seppi went up two sets to love against Novak at the French Open last year and could pose a challenge to the #1. Del Potro and Berdych should get into the semis comfortably as they play Daniel Brands and Dmitry Tursunov respectively.

Until next time....

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dubai R1: Federer beats Jaziri

Roger Federer began his quest to defend his Dubai title and win #77 with a 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Tunisian player Malek Jaziri, the #128 player in the world.

The Swiss Maestro opened up the match by generating break point chances in Jaziri's first two service games but he could not convert. He held serve with ease throughout the set until he played one loose game at 5-5 and Jaziri took advantage, breaking. He held to shockingly take the opening set and Fed would have to work a little harder to advance.

After losing the set, Roger raised his game and won his first bagel set of 2013, and then he won the third set after breaking in the 6th game to firmly take control. He broke again and that was the match.

Fed lost the opening set but he really shouldn't have as he could have easily won the set 6-1 or 6-2 with some better play. But he quickly made up for his mistakes by playing much better in the second and third sets and he never let Jaziri get any belief even when he found himself a set up.

Overall, it was a good win even with the dropped set. He hit 10 aces and won 30/36 first serve points and broke 5 of 11 times, and hit some fantastic 2nd serves and forehands. The quick court really suits his game and I can only think that his play will get better from here on out as he gets more used to the conditions.

Next up is Albert Montanes or Marcel Granollers on Wednesday.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Federer loses to Benneteau

Julien Benneteau ended Roger Federer's chance for a 77th career title and third Rotterdam crown with a 6-3, 7-5 upset of the #2 ranked Swiss. It was the Frenchman's 2nd career victory over Roger, the first coming in the Paris Indoors in 2009.

It was a rocky match from start to finish for Roger. He was broken in the opening game of the match, and though he broke back a few games later, never found his range and was broken another two times to lose the first set in the blink of an eye. In the second it got worse as he was broken at 1-2 and went down 4-1 before winning 12 of 14 points to get things even. Benneteau quickly regained his composure however and righted the ship. He forced Fed to serve to stay in the match at 5-6 and couldn't, as he double faulted at 30-30 and sent a backhand wide on match point.

The loss brings Roger to 7-2 in the young season. Perhaps more importantly, he will lose points and likely confidence as he didn't play well throughout the match and never really felt "in it."

If there is a positive coming from the loss, it was Fed's fighting ability, which he has shown numerous times since his loss to Djokovic at the US Open in 2011. He fought back in the second set even when no part of his game was really working, and he at least made Benneteau earn it.

There isn't really much to say other than the Frenchman was the better player and deserved the win. Roger wasn't serving well and Julien took his chances and played his brand of attacking tennis to perfection. It was a bad day, and he's bound to have more and more of them as time goes on (he is 31 going on 32 after all).

Next up on the schedule for Federer is Dubai, where he is of course the defending champion. It'll be a tough task to win again, but it is possible. Right now, it's time for more practice (first serve specifically I'm sure) and preparation to be ready. Having a good tournament after this loss will go a long way to help the confidence.

PS: I know there are many "sky is falling" thoughts out there now, but it's really not all that bad. Benneteau has always been a tough match for Roger, and as I said, when he is on his game he doesn't have many weaknesses. He also can return Roger's serve as well as Murray and Djokovic for some reason. Like many, I guess he just brings out his best against the GOAT.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Federer into Rotterdam Quarterfinals

It was another simple victory for Roger Federer Thursday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament as he took out the home boy Thiemo De Bakker 6-3, 6-4 in 62 minutes.

Federer characteristically opened up an early lead and rolled to the first set win from there. He broke in the first game of the second set and after that it was pretty much all over. The match followed the exact same formula as many of the early round matches of the Maestro do, and it hardly feels like he has broken a sweat through his first two matches of the tournament.

Next up for the Roger is Julien Benneteau, which should be another straightforward win although a little tougher than his first two wins.

Last year`s finalist Juan Martin del Potro advanced when he beat Ernests Gulbis and Marcos Baghdatis upset Richard Gasquet. The quarters will see Baghdatis vs Grigor Dimitrov and del Potro vs Jarkko Nieminen, as well as Gilles Simon vs Martin Klizan.

Personally, I would love to see a Federer vs Dimitrov final, and they practiced together before Fed`s match against De Bakker. It will be a tough task for Grigor to beat Baghdatis however.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Federer starts strong in Rotterdam

Roger Federer picked up his 6th win of the young season against Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-1 in his opening match in Rotterdam.  The Swiss is looking for his 77th career title and 3rd title at this event.

Federer started out with a little bit of rust as he struggled in the first four games to find rhythm.  He was forced to save two break points at 1-2 but once he got the hold, he immediately broke to love the next game and then broke once again to close out the set winning 5 of the last 6 games.  The second set was more of the same as he broke another two times to advance.  He won 11 of the last 13 games of the match, and he will look to carry that momentum against the Netherlands own Thiemo De Bakker.

Should he get by De Bakker, which is expected obviously, he'll play Julien Benneteau in the quarters.  The most likely semifinal opponent now that Tsonga was eliminated is Gilles Simon, the 5th seed.

PS: after the tournament is over, I'm going to be giving my thoughts about Nadal's recent criticisms of the ATP.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Davis Cup Round One Wrap-Up

Well, the first round of the Davis Cup is over and done with, and what a round it was.  We saw amazing matches in both singles and doubles and we saw some history being made.

I'm Canadian, and it has been a joy seeing tennis being more focused on in my country since Milos Raonic started making a name for himself a few years ago. The next step in Canadian tennis appears to have been taken, as they took out the defending finalists Spain. Granted, the Spanish team didn't have Nadal, Ferrer, Almagro, Verdasco, or Feliciano Lopez, but it is still an amazing accomplishment for Canada.

In the end, the difference in the outcome of the second singles match between Frank Dancevic and top 35 player Marcel Granollers, in which "Granola" as I call him was the heavy favourite. Frank, whose best tournament came almost six years ago in Montreal when he made the quarterfinals, has had a rough go of things in his career, but has always shown great potential. That potential was realized as he played lights out tennis and beat Granollers 61 62 62. The match made me remember why I like watching Davis Cup - for the journeymen getting their moment in the spotlight by bringing success to their country.

Milos Raonic sealed the deal with a win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (who beat Murray last year in Indian Wells), and for the first time EVER, my nation is in the Davis Cup quarterfinals, where they'll take on Italy. That is a very winnable tie, and if they win it would be monumental. To make a Davis Cup semifinal could possibly put tennis on the map in Canada for good, and nothing would make me happier to see this great game thrive in my homeland.

The highlight from the entire weekend of competition may have been the 7 hour 2 minute doubles match that took place between Czechs Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol and the Swiss team of Stan Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli. It was an unbelievable experience to watch the four guys give every ounce of themselves, and on top of that, it was thrilling tennis even into the sixth and seventh hours. The Swiss team saved 12 match points before succumbing to the 13th - that number shows how hard-fought the match was.

In the end the Federer-less Swiss lost to the Czech squad but there was some good development on the Swiss side. 20 year-old Henri Laaksonen took a set off Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka continued to show his early season inspired form. I do feel bad for Stan in some ways though - he gave so much of himself against Djokovic at the Australian Open and in the Davis Cup and got no positive results from it. Still, I fully believe if he keeps this up, he'll be pushing for a top 10 spot by the end of the year.

Other ties were very interesting. Italy made their first quarterfinal in 15 years. Kazakhstan upset Austria. France, Argentina, and Serbia prove that they are forces to be reckoned with this year. Meanwhile, the US barely got by Brazil even while led by their best team which featured John Isner, Sam Querrey, and the Bryan brothers.

Davis Cup may not be everyone's favourite tennis-related event, but I enjoy it - and this year is sure to have some added drama to it now that Spain is out and there are young and hungry nations vying for newfound success.

Can't wait for April's ties and everything between now and then.