Monday, 10 March 2014


Seeded number 28 at a tournament players consider to be the '5th Grand Slam' Alexandr Dolgopolov from the Ukraine knocked out World number 1 Rafael Nadal in the 3rd round of the Indian Wells tournament . Just one week earlier Dolgopolov pushed Rafa all the way in the final of a clay court tournament in Rio but hard court tennis tends to even out the field with no real advantage to any particular style of game. Most times a player from outside the top 20 plays a top ten player the matches are tight but most results sway towards the higher ranked player, naturally , it's why they have success on a regular basis. If you look at the way a top tenner hits against a lower ranked player especially in a practice session the stroke for stroke ability is very similar but it's the mind that separates them in a match, so why is this ? Self belief in a sport such as tennis or golf is what sets champion players apart from the rest who make a good living but don't go deep into the final days of a competition . Take Australia's Marinko Matosevic for example; On the ATP Circuit he has played 107 matches with a 44 Win / 63 Loss record and has never won a match in a Grand Slam . Marinko is a very good tennis player yet his mind isn't quite where it needs to be , take the recently played Australian Open for example. He lost first round to Nishikori who was seeded 16 in 5 sets then blamed his coach Mark Woodforde for not cheering loud enough for him from the stands! Interesting statement from the World number 69 who has won over 1.3 Million dollars in his career and just under 100 Grand this year , not bad for a bloke who has failed to win a tournament. 
Marinko is just an example of a tennis professional who makes a very handsome living from the game yet doesn't win regularly enough to be a household name . Would it be that his mind is not doing him any favors when it comes to the big matches against the top players ? Against Nishikori in Australia he pushed him all the way yet a close final set loss with just one break of serve was enough for his much higher ranked opponent to sneak away with a win . At the same above mentioned tournament at Indian Wells he pushed the current World number 16 Tommy Robredo to 3 sets , again falling to a single service break loss in the final set. Perhaps his mind is fearful when it gets to the closing stages of a match, the fear of failure, every tennis player's worst nightmare.
The game of tennis is played more between the ears than stroke for stroke , as the great Jimmy Connors once came up with a famous statement supporting this fact. With 107 Pro Tournament victories , the all time record for Men's Professional Tennis , 'Jimbo' once said 'the game of tennis is 90 percent mental , 10 percent physical ' . With that many tournament victories there has to be some truth in his statement that only the smartest tennis players are regularly successful. Keep thinking, after all it is just what the heading suggests, a mind game........

No comments:

Post a Comment