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!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Djokovic vs Nadal in US Open final

For the 6th time in their careers, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be facing each other in a major final. The top two players in the world will do battle in a Monday finish, new for this year, and whoever wins the match could gain an advantage in finishing the year at #1.

As usual with matches between Djokovic and Nadal, it will be a war of attrition and both guys will push each other to the limit. Both have been in very solid form throughout the tournament, though Djokovic has been tested far more, being taken to 4 against Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinal and of course to 5 sets by Stan Wawrinka in the semis. Nadal has only lost his serve once in the tournament (to Gasquet in the semi) and has only dropped one set, to Kohlschreiber in the 4th round.

Nadal is undefeated on hardcourt this season and is looking to win his 13th Grand Slam title, while Djokovic hasn't won a title since Monte Carlo in the spring and will be looking to win his 7th Grand Slam title. He is playing in his 7th consecutive hardcourt major final dating back to the US Open in 2010.

In some ways, I see this match similar to Agassi vs Sampras in the US Open final of 1995. Agassi was on a roll that summer, beating Pete in the Montreal final and had all the momentum. This summer, Nadal has had all the momentum and beat Djokovic in Montreal. Sampras ended up beating Agassi in the US Open final, and we will see if Djokovic can win and get his second victory over Nadal this year.

We all know Djokovic has the best return in the world and he will need to use it to full effect. Nadal hasn't faced a great returner yet and has had no trouble on his serve all tournament, and that should change dramatically against the Serb. It could also shock him initially to not be able to take control of the point off the first shot. The man they call Nole will need to also use his backhand down the line effectively to keep the ball away from Rafa's monstrous forehand.

Nadal pretty much needs to play the way he did in Montreal - flatten out his forehand more and take the ball up the line. He has been the hottest guy on tour the whole year and his confidence could be the most dangerous facet of his game.

I'm taking Djokovic in 4 because I think he will bring his best game and he will hurt Nadal's serve, but in reality I could easily see the match going to a 5th, which would be great for all the viewers.

May the final be good,


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Federer Stunned out of US Open

In a result that nobody could have predicted, Roger Federer bowed out of the US Open with a shocking 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-3 loss to Tommy Robredo, a man he was 10-0 against before this fateful night.

It isn't a tough loss to explain - Robredo was the better player. However, even though Federer lost in straight sets, one could argue he should have won the second and third sets, where he had 12 break points combined and failed to take even one. In a career where he has played the big points so well, he played them at a very poor level on this night. His body didn't let him down, but his mind did. Usually so great with shot selection, time and time again he made the wrong decisions that led to throwing away break point chance after break point chance.

Credit to Robredo, he played well and showed the confidence that is needed to beat a top player. He believed he would win right from the start, and that, coupled with Roger's poor play on the big points, enabled him to win as easily as he did.

It was a bitter end to a disappointing Grand Slam season, though he would have likely gone out to Rafael Nadal on Wednesday even if he had gotten through to the quarterfinals. As usual after any Federer loss these days, the "R" word comes up by fans and the media and we all wonder what magic the 32 year-old has left.

It isn't past realism that Federer could win another major title in 2014. After all, it would only require two great weeks of play and perhaps a bit of fortune. But if this year has showed us anything, it is that there is no more of that famous consistency left in the Swiss' game. He looked very good in his first three matches here and then he made decisions like a futures level player against Robredo. At this stage, we just do not know which Roger Federer will show up. The one that brings back memories of his best days, or this version, the frustrated, confused shell of a once-elite player.

Now, about all we can ask is that Fed takes a break, trains hard, and comes full-force for the indoor season to give a good ending to a bad year.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Federer in Last 16 at US Open

Roger Federer made excessively quick work in his third round match against Adrian Mannarino by a score of 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 in under 90 minutes. The Frenchman has been playing the best tennis of his career thus far but was made to look very average by the unrelenting attack of the 17-time Slam champ.

Right from the start the Swiss made his intentions known that he was going to attack Mannarino's 2nd serves. And attack them he did, over and over and over again. In the fourth game of the match he fired three forehand returns off weak 2nd serves and he emphatically grabbed the break. It was literally as easy a match as you could ask for after that. By the third set, Roger was in exhibition mode, trying some crowd-pleasing shots and looking completely untroubled.

34 winners, 20 errors, 19/24 at the net, 92% behind his first serve, all excellent numbers. He also hit 13 return winners and only lost 18 total points on return (in 12 service games).

The big point I want to get across from this match was that Roger was supremely aggressive on the return, many times running around his backhand on the ad side to hit forehands. He didn't want to start the point neutral or in a defensive position, he took the initiative. That is a great thing to see and he will need that effective returning if he wants to beat Nadal in the potential upcoming quarterfinal. But I will go into complete detail about the gameplan Roger must use if and when that time comes.

Up next in the round of 16 is the veteran Tommy Robredo who is the 19th seed at this tournament. He has found rejuvenation after a long battle with injuries. He reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, winning three straight matches from two sets down, the first man to do that since the great Henri Cochet did so in 1927. He will be a tough opponent for Fed and if we know anything, it's that he will force Roger to play well to win comfortably. I expect a tight three sets.

To finish up this post, I want to talk about Lleyton Hewitt's upset of Juan Martin del Potro on Friday. It was an awesome match from the 2001 US Open champion and his trademark fighting spirit was on full display against the 2009 champion.

While watching, I marveled at Hewitt's compact groundstrokes and his innate ability to change the direction of the ball - and many times he went for it on the big points, and it paid off. I had an absolute blast watching it and the Aussie reminded me why he was my first favourite player when I was just a decade old.

As for del Potro, it's clear that his left wrist is still bothering him. He can't hit through his backhand like he should be able to and he rarely ever goes down the line with it these days. His massive forehand is the one shot that has kept him at the top of the game. It must be disappointing having two exits before the Round of 16 this year and one missed Slam (which he would have had a great chance at going deep). He is one of my favourite players so I hope he can string some form together at the end of the year.

Hewitt will take on Evgeny Donskoy in the third round and he could play Tommy Haas in the fourth for the chance to take on the World #1. I would love to see a match between the 32 year-old Lleyton and the 35 year-old Tommy just to show all the new tennis fans the brilliance of the early 2000s.

 Until next time,


PS - I am going to be having some news after the US Open about, well, I'll just say ... expansion.