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The Real Reason for Novak's Bizarre Aus Open Final Energy Collapse

 

When Novak Djokovic was reflecting on his bizarre collapse of energy during the Aus Open final against Dominic Thiem, he said this:

"There was definitely an emotional aspect to all of this. With all the experience that I've had, I'm still nervous, still stressed out about what's going to happen, how am I going to play.

"Then there was one point where I just said 'OK, I have to accept it. It is what it is. Let's try to do everything possible to come back.'

Often when I work with players individually, or when consulting to coaches regarding player competitive issues, we discover that, at least in part, a lack of awareness and acceptance of the normally occurring stresses/fears of competing are at the core of the issue. 

Watch the video above where Novak discusses the skill he used to be able to regain his focus and recommit to actions that helped him continue his march to becoming the greatest male player to ever play the game.

Where To Start?

When considering where to start...

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Djokovic's Mental Edge...

 

 

Time and time again Novak Djokovic successfully navigates both the external and his own internal challenges to find his way to finish line 1st in the biggest matches.

Asked after his 8th Aus Open victory what it is that gives him this mental edge in the biggest matches Novak said this:

"My upbringing was in Serbia during several wars…embargo in my country where we had to wait in line for bread and water.

I think these things make you stronger. They make you hungrier for success in whatever you choose to do. That has been my foundation, the very fact that I came from such difficult life circumstances.

And going back to that and reminding myself where I came from always inspires and motivates me to push harder and so thats probably one of the reasons that I manage to find that extra gear or mental strength to overcome challenges when they present themselves."

Too often those of us responsible for helping players develop the required resilience and grit needed to...

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Why the Importance of Strategy is Often Overrated...

 

 

Two players have similar physical/technical skills...On a 1-10 Helpfulness Scale Player A has a strategy of 7 but is only a 3 on the ability to apply the strategy when faced with mental challenges, while Player B has a strategy of 3 but is a 7 on the ability to apply the strategy when face with mental challenges. If they play 10 times, how many times do you think each player would win?

I think player B wins nearly every time. The reason?

When players compete they are frequently faced with very challenging mental experiences (nerves, frustration, outcome thoughts, etc). What tends to happen for most players at all levels of the game is that very quickly they begin to act based on these difficult internal experiences. At this point how good one’s strategy is becomes largely irrelevant because they can’t apply it when ‘caught up’ in the unintentional difficult match related mental challenges...And because nearly every circumstance throughout...

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The 2019 Mens Wimbledon Final: History Repeats in Federer Heartbreaker...

 

 

 

It goes without saying that this was one of the greatest mental battles in tennis history.

So much amazing tennis...

So many swings…

So many roundabouts…

So much pressure…

And ultimately once again the great game of tennis was able to dig to the core of the matter and reward the player who believed most that they were the better player (as painful as that is for Federer fan like me)…

For Djokovic this deep belief has developed over many years. Twice before he has come from 2 match points down to beat Federer at the US Open. In the 2014 Wimbledon final Djokovic won after Federer had a break point early in the 5th set. In the 2015 Wimbledon final, Federer converted 1 of 7 break chances, whereas Djokovic converted 4 of 10 to win a tight affair. And in the 2015 US Open final with the match tied at a set all Federer had 2 break points when leading 3-4 in the 3rd set.

All in all, Djokovic has been steadily establishing his...

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The Skill That Most Determines Competitive Success (And How It's Been Key To Djokovic's Resurgence)...

 

 

Given that a break of serve would have almost certainly resulted in another Nadal Slam victory...who would have thought that when Novak Djokovic walked up to the line to serve at 7-7, 15-40 in the 5th set of their Wimbledon semi-final a few months ago that he would wake up regaining his #1 ranking by early November...

After all, in that moment he must have been experiencing significant self-doubt given that he hadn't won a Grand Slam for more than 2 years (which probably included the prediction that he would likely lose the match)...And he must have felt frustration at having just double faulted at 15-30 and earlier twice coming within 2 points of victory (0-30 on Nadal's serve).

But what happened next was that Djokovic cracked a Serve + 1 combo to force a Nadal error, followed by an ace. This gave an insight into what was to come in the minutes and months that lay ahead... And how Djokovic had regained the mental skill that had provided the foundation for him...

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The 2016 Men's Australian Open: The Big '4' is Now the Big '1'

 

 

When Novak Djokovic lost to Stan Wawrinka in the final of the French Open last year, I wrote this in my post-match review:

“His (Djokovic’s) efforts strongly indicate that his march towards becoming a master competitor is complete…Quite simply, his ability to maintain consistent competitive effort throughout the challenges of both his semi-final (in which he beat Murray in 5 sets) and final was hugely impressive…With the histrionics and hitches that were a feature of his early career play becoming almost nonexistent, unless players can repeat Wawrinka’s incredible level, it looks likely to become a Slam fest for Djokovic in the coming years.”

Funnily enough, it was the way Djokovic lostthat convinced me that he had overcome the final barrier (his occasional low stress tolerance) to becoming virtually unbeatable in the Slams…

And He Has Improved Since Then…

To understand how far Djokovic has raised the bar, anyone...

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The 1 Crucial Factor That Cost Federer Big Time Against Djokovic…

 

 

Before this match, I was curious to see many good judges predicting a Federer victory. And with Djokovic looking below par in the 3rd set, Federer had his chances to grab the match by the throat earning 2 break points at 3-4. But why did I feel, that even in these moments, Djokovic was a heavy favourite to go on and win the match? To answer this question, it’s important to first reflect on the dynamics of that commonly used word: CONFIDENCE.

 What is Confidence?

Confidence is simply the triggering of implicit memories of past outcomes in similar circumstances.

Implicit memories? What?

Implicit memories are memories that are created without us knowing we're remembering something (as opposed to explicit memories where we are aware that we are 'remembering' something).

For example, one type of implicit memory is called ‘procedural’ memory that relates to skill development...

An example of procedural implicit memory is learning...

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Novak Djokovic's Secret Mental Toughness Strategy...

 

 

The 2014 Wimbledon Final…

When Novak Djokovic prepared to serve at 3-3 30-40 in the 5thset against Roger Federer in the Wimbledon Final, imagine the internal challenges he would have encountered.

Being faced with the prospect of losing from 5-2 up in the 4thset must have been a chaotic mental test.

But fighting off break point in that moment and going on to deny Federer’s awesome comeback was an incredible effort.

Djokovic’s Improved Statistics…

To explore how much Djokovic has improved in the last few years I decided to compare his results from 2008-2010, with those from 2011-Present…

Grand Slam/ATP 1000 results 2008-2010: 79% winning percentage

Grand Slam/ATP 1000 results 2011- Present: 90% winning percentage

While this 11% improved winning % is significant, looking specifically at his statistics against Federer, Nadal, and Murray reveals an even more important story…

2008-2010: Murray 1-3; Nadal 5-10; Federer 5-8

2010-...

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