I've talked a lot about the importance of competing our hardest when our opponent is trying to finish us off because it is the time that they are most likely to get tight and play poorly.
And this possibility of playing poorly as the finish line approaches increases the closer that finish line is and the closer we are in score to our opponents when it nears.
The reason for this is simple: Our opponents will feel more fear of losing (and therefore nerves) the closer the score…So trying to serve for a match at 5-4 will cause more nerves than serving for it at 5-2.
And so when losing it is vital that we improve our ability to do things:
1.) Throughout the Match
When a match is not going well and we are moving towards loss it’s vital to tolerate and respond well to the inevitable difficult emotions that we will feel.
The 2 most common internal experiences that we feel when in dire situations in matches are helplessness and frustration. Quite simply, not getting what we want causes frustration…
And if we feel there is nothing we can do to turn it around we will experience helplessness.
While in the ideal world we would remain super positive in this situation this is not what 95% of players will experience no matter how many times coaches tell them to stay positive and so the real key is learning skills that help us continue to commit to actions that increase the chance of success while we are thinking and feeling lousily.
I cannot stress the importance of this idea enough and can guarantee that improvement in this area is one of the most fruitful road to the greatest improvements in results for the majority of players.
2.) As Our Opponent Nears The Finish
If we can respond better to the challenges of falling behind in matches it increases the chance that we’ll be closer as our opponents near the finish meaning they will feel more fear of losing from a winning position when trying to finish the job.
So as discussed, this is actually the time when it makes most sense to compete our hardest.
But rarely do players do this…
But by responding well to falling behind against Berrettini late in their match and throughout his match with Kokkinakis, he was able to be close enough that they both felt tight when trying to finish.
He then backed this up by competing his very hardest (rather than being caught in frustration and self-judgement) when they were trying to finish the job.
And this is the reason that when Murray wakes up today from his 4am finish, he is still alive in the tournament.
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