Tennis Mental Edge Blog Home

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Federer Survives Despite Down Two Sets; Djokovic Wins After Being Down Too

Are upsets contagious? It seemed for a long time on Friday that Djokovic and Federer had caught the upset virus that plagued Rafael Nadal on Thursday. Federer and Djokovic survived and moved in to the the third round of Wimbledon but not without precarious moments.

Brad Gilbert made an interesting comment that upsets can become contagious. I would agree if a top player entertains the idea of being upset and lets it gain energy. Right around the time of Gilbert's comments Djokovic lost the first set to a dangerous net rusher on grass, Radek Stepanek. Djokovic righted the ship immediately in the second set and went on to play some outstanding tennis to win in four sets. After the match Djokovic was asked if he was thinking about how Nadal was upset. He said he was not, but you have to imagine it was hard to not think "this can't be happening to me".

Friday, June 29, 2012

How Rosol Upset Nadal

Lukas Rosol shocked the tennis world yesterday defeating Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon. How did Rosol pull off the biggest win of his career? It was a combination of big tennis and fearlessness that enabled Rosol to knock Nadal out of the Championships.

Fate loves the fearless - James Russell Lowell
Rosol, ranked 100 in the world, had never won at match at Wimbledon; not in the main draw or in qualifying. Yet, he looked totally confident on Center Court. Rosol's tactics were to hit huge serves and groundstrokes and take the initiative from Nadal. Rosol's forehand and backhand were routinely clocked over 90 mph. He did not allow Nadal to control the points. Instead, Nadal was pushed back off the court in a defensive position. The "first-strike" tactic was even more effective because the grass is still slick during the first week and in the fifth set they played the match with the roof shut.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wimbledon 2012 Preview

The Wimbledon fortnight is just about upon us. Players are probably feeling nerves as I write this the night before the main draw begins. The first round is often the most nerve-wracking round, especially for the top players as they try to get in to the rhythm of the Championships. Already John Isner and Venus Williams crashed out. Who is next?

Who is going to come out with the coveted Wimbledon title? Profiles of Top 12 Contenders for Title

In my opinion Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are the obvious favorites on the men's side. They have the confidence to go all the way. Fed especially is driven to win another Wimbledon and set himself up for a run on the same grounds for the Olympics. To say that these guys, specifically Federer, will be feeling the uber-importance of the next month is an understatement. History will be made and one of these guys could stand above the others in history if they were to win Wimbledon and then Gold at the Olympics. Who has the most pressure on him? Andy Murray of course. This could be a defining moment for Murray or more disappointment. I will be watching closely to see how he handles this huge opportunity.

On the women's side the field is open. My favorites are everybody's favorites - Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Sharapova has the look of confidence again, and Serena can beat anyone when she brings her full game. Grass accentuates Williams' big serve and groundstrokes. Petra Kvitova will try to defend her title. Watching her in the first round she looked nervous. Hopefully she can get comfortable and give herself a great shot at repeating. Beyond those three players you have to consider Victoria Azarenka and Sam Stosur has the other players that have a great opportunity to win Wimbledon. Big games in different ways, but both can control a match with their power.

Wimbledon has a mystique and a pristine atmosphere about it. The players feel the importance of this tournament, probably more so than any other Slam. To win Wimbledon is to be etched in to history forever. However, the pursuit of the Wimbledon trophy is as anxiety-provoking as any situation you will find in tennis. From the grass and how the wear and weather affect the bounce of the ball to the difficulty of breaking serve, players are feeling the pressure. It will be exciting to watch how they handle such an awesome opportunity and the mental dynamics that they are confronted with as they pursue the Championship.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wimbledon blog begins June 25

Wimbledon qualifying has begun! The main draw starts on Monday, June 25. I will begin blogging my reactions to the events happening at Wimbledon.

Can Roger win one more? Will Rafa and Nole meet in the Final again, and has Nadal surpassed Djokovic? Will Sharapova continue her dominance? Will one of the Williams' sisters make a run? Or, will we have another surprise winner on the women's side? Can Isner breakthrough and get to the final weekend? Does Roddick have another Wimbledon run in him? So many questions waiting to be answered.

The blog will focus on key matches and the mental dynamics that occurred in those matches. I will attempt to show how players were able to mentally win or lose matches and then boil that in to lessons for junior players, coaches, and parents.

Only a few days from Wimbledon. I can't wait to see what will happen on the grass.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Nalbandian Loses Emotional Control and AEGON Championship with Kick

David Nalbandian kicked his way in to infamy Sunday at the AEGON Championships. In the second set of the final match against Marin Cilic Nalbandian was up a set but down 3-4. Nalbandian was clearly upset about losing the point as he sprinted towards the sideline. Then he kicked the barrier in front of the linesman. What Nalbandian may not have realized is that the barrier in front of linesman Andrew McDougall was not made to block anything but maybe a slightly struck tennis ball. The kick bloodied McDougall and ended with Nalbandian being disqualified from the match.

See the Nalbandian kick on YouTube

"I never intended to hit him (the line judge), it was an unfortunate reaction in which I wanted to let off steam after losing a point," Nalbandian's statement read (ESPN UK site). 

Indeed it did not seem that Nalbandian had an issue with the linesman and acted with intention to harm him. However, this is why your parents tell you to count to ten when you are angry. Acting without thinking can create real problems.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sharapova all the Way Back from Injury; Wins Career Slam

Maria Sharapova was dominant at the 2012 French Open. She handled surprise finalist Sara Errani and completed the career grand slam. The new #1 in the world has retaken her place at the top of the WTA tour and should be a threat for years to come.

The French Open site posted a brief, but very nice piece on Sharapova the champion. The post references Sharapova's excellent mental game.

Maria Sharapova, French Open Champion and All-Time Great

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Errani Defeats Stosur with Her Mind at the French Open

Sam Stosur talking about her French Open semi final loss to Sara Errani, "You're always going to be a bit nervous going into a semi - it's the semifinal of a Slam, of course you're going to be nervous." Stosur overcame those nerves to play brilliant tennis and defeat Serena Williams at the 2011 US Open. Today, however, it was her opponent than managed the nerves better.

Peter Bodo at gives an interesting take on the match between Stosur and Errani (French Open Errani d. Stosur). His opinion is that Errani won with her mind. Despite it being an up and down affair, in the end Errani held strong as she broke Stosur and then won four straight points to serve out the match. Errani held her nerve despite losing a break in the third set.

How to Serve Out a Match, Sharapova defeats Kvitova at French

Maria Sharapova provided us a clinic on how to serve out a match today at the French Open. In defeating Petra Kvitova, Sharapova won her way in to the French Open final to face Sara Errani. If you missed Sharapova serving out the match try to find it on You Tube or watch it on French Open Tonight. For a tennis mental coach it was awesome to watch!

Sharapova broke Kvitova to go up 5-4 in the second set and to serve for the match. Instead of rushing to get the balls and start the game, Sharapova turned her back, looked at her strings and prepared herself for the next game. There was no huge outburst after breaking and seemingly no doubt about it. Sharapova meant business and served it out at 15. She made four of five first serves and never looked like the outcome was in doubt.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Azarenka, Djokovic, Federer Tested on Day 8 of French Open

#1 in the Novak Djokovic was down two sets to Andreas Seppi of Italy. About that same time Roger Federer was down a set to lucky loser David Goffin. Earlier in the day Victoria Azarenka was sent packing by Dominika Cibulkova. A wild Day 8 was underway. Later in the evening both Tsonga-Wawrinka and Del Potro-Berdych would be suspended due to darkness.

Djokovic and Federer would survive the fourth round, but not without some anxious moments. Seppi was within two games of defeating Djokovic in the third set. Djokovic seemed uncomfortable with his footing at different times throughout the match. His uncertainity aided Seppi's excellent play. However, like a champion, Djokovic played with more conviction in his shots from the third set and on and hung in the match. Eventually, Seppi's play dropped just enough for Djokovic to pull away. It would not have happened though had Djokovic lost his focus and dropped his intensity.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wawrinka-Simon; How Wawrinka Got in to the Zone in the Fifth Set

How did Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland find the zone down 2 sets to 1 and 1-3 in the fourth? Gilles Simon of France was riding the home crowd energy and pushing toward the finish line. However, Wawrinka found another gear and eventually won the match going away in the fifth set.

For much of this match Wawrinka dictated the outcome of the points having far more winners and unforced errors (in fact 82 winners to Simon's 23, and 88 unforced errors to Simon's 49). Gilles Simon attempted to play more aggressive and finish points by coming forward, but the "easy power" of Wawrinka allowed him to control the court. In particular his backhand down the line punished Simon time and time again.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Isner and Mathieu Marathon Mental Game Breakdown

Day 5 of the French Open ended with a marathon classic between John Isner and Paul Henri Mathieu. Mathieu won in over 5 hours and 40 minutes because he stay composed and made fewer mistakes. In contrast, Isner struggled with his forehand much of the match and eventually his penchant for unforced errors and ill-timed drop shots cost him.

Throughout the match both players were showing signs of frustration in their reactions and body language. Mathieu was frustrated by Isner's ability to serve away break points. Isner was just plain frustrated. He hit his racket on the ground several times and even shook his head in disgust after a winner.