Righty v Lefty - "The Struggle"

I have never given it much thought that a big factor between the winner and the loser in the great rivalry between RogerFederer and Rafael Nadal is not the surface but whether the player's are left or right handed. This weekend, after playing a very difficult lefty in a USTA League tennis match, I finally understood what it must be like for Federer to play a left handed player, and one as talented as Nadal, for 5 excruciating sets.

First off, Left handed players have an advantage when it comes to playing righties. They are accustomed to playing righties because most of the world is right handed. A righty practices with righties about 80-90% of the time, and not often enough, encounters a left handed opponent. So left handed players are adept to playing righthanders. But we, right handers are always thrown when we face the dreadful lefty spin.

Now, I'm considered a pretty good 4.5 player in my neck of the woods and usually have no problem breaking players with my excellent return of service. One time, while playing college tennis I broke my opponent every time they served, I held ONLY once and won the match! Score, 7-6, 7-5! Unfortunately, my return of serve (my biggest weapon) is neutralized when I play a lefty spin. And usually, my left handed opponent zeros in on his God-given advantage.

In my match this weekend, the match came down to one singular tactic. My opponent diligently figured he could diffuse my slice backhand with his lefty spin. He would come in behind every short ball he hit to my backhand and finish the point with him at the net. What he did in essence is kind of the way,Nadal uses his lefty spin to Federer's backhand for the entirety of their matches. Taking away the rest of Federer's magical repertoire and focusing the game on one thing, Nadal's left hand forehand to Federer's backhand. Well, that's exactly how I felt playing this guy. Frustrated, I yearned to see a good ball that I could rip with my solid forehand. Unfortunately, this was the typical battle of the 'lefty v therighty.'

Here are some tactics to consider next time you play a left-handed player. Some of these in combination can work to perfection.

Return of Serve
1. Consider stepping into the court, to receive serve, and hit the ball early off the bounce before it generates too much spin.
2. Swing from low to high, to return. Swinging upward will not clash with the ball's projected spin.
3. Follow through completely on your swing, don't hesitate upon contact as you will lose control sending the ball flying into outer space

The Match
1. Don't let you're opponent control the point. Stay aggressive and take charge.
2. Attack their weakness, lefty's too have a weakness and it's usually in the form of their backhand.
3. Nail them to one corner, until you have the perfect ball to put away to the open court.

1. Be EXTRA focused on holding serve, their serve may be difficult to register at first, so hold serve until you become familiar with their patterns.
2. Hold serve, again, nothing might work but at least you're holding.
3. SURPRISE: Use righty spin on your serve to wreak havoc on their return.

It can be a struggle out there, when you're opponent doesn't let you see anything else but one tactic for an entire match. So what to do when you're playing a lefty? Give them a similar medicine and zero in on one tactic.this can be, usually hitting to one side of the court for the entire match.

I didn't have the most pleasant day playing a lefty, nor did I win my match. Like Federer, I faced a very good lefty, and I can only hope to beat them next time.


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Anonymous said...

Excellent tips, always a problem playing a lefty, specially if they have spin.

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