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How much of tennis is played in the mind?

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How much of tennis is played in the mind? Empty How much of tennis is played in the mind?

Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:02 pm

how much


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Post by noleisthebest on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:28 pm

IQ helps just in just about any job I suppose, somehow I don't think it would've made Einstein a Wimbledon champion.

And as for Fed's quote, you have missed out a very important element, he says: "did I have it in my mind and in my LEGS?"

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGxawB9iPts

I don't know if you play tennis, but the article sounds very theoretical.

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Post by Tenez on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:25 pm

noleisthebest wrote:IQ helps just in just about any job I suppose, somehow I don't think it would've made Einstein a Wimbledon champion.

And as for Fed's quote, you have missed out a very important element, he says: "did I have it in my mind and in my LEGS?"

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGxawB9iPts

I don't know if you play tennis, but the article sounds very theoretical.

Very good addition to Amri's post.

As mentioned many times, execution, shot selection and mind are very linked and very important in some attacking games like Federer's but the tactics of the current top players is actually to leave no chance to execution, mind and shot selection. Mind and execution is very much down to form of the day, something which cannot guarantee being at the business end of slams....unless you have Federer's genius.

SO the top players rely very much on the remaining points:

Tactics: Very simple, forcing long rallies while cutting down as much as possible the UEs. Both long rallies and low UEs are actually working hand in hand.

Shot Selection: Typically very simple. R-L-R with nice net clearance while using spin to create angles and force opponent to cover lots of ground.

Execution: Good execution will force the extra step on the opponent and bad execution will give control of teh rally to teh opponent...but as mentioned no UE shoudl be made.

Mental energy level: I don;t think it plays much role when Murray, Djoko and Nadal play each other. It's completely negligeable compared the last point.

Physical energy level: That's what it's all about. Most players in teh top 100 can hit through Djoko, Murray and Nadal but as proven by the slam record of the guys, not many players can actually hot through them for 5 sets. They can get close (Peztchner, Haase, Querrey, Isner, Youzhny, Tsonga, Melzer, Seppi, etc...etc..) but at the end it takes a huge performance to blast Nadal and co out of Wimby or any other slam.

I like what Wilander said after Nadal defeated Isner at the FO11: "It was not close, we knew the 5th would be one sided." For Isner it was about Execution and mentalk strength....for Nadal it was about legs!

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:32 pm

noleisthebest wrote:IQ helps just in just about any job I suppose, somehow I don't think it would've made Einstein a Wimbledon champion.
No no no. I don't think you understand what I am getting at here.
I'm not talking about academic intelligence or scientific intelligence quotient, that's not what I mean by 'mind.'

noleisthebest wrote:
And as for Fed's quote, you have missed out a very important element, he says: "did I have it in my mind and in my LEGS?"
Apologies, I got the quote from a book called 'A Game to Love' which had some quotes and screenshots of the great champions. (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Game-Love-In-Celebration-Tennis/dp/1419700014) They must have edited the 'legs' bit out, I will add that in now.

noleisthebest wrote:
I don't know if you play tennis, but the article sounds very theoretical.
Yes I do play tennis.
Yes, I know this article is also theoretical Thumbs Up

I'm not quite sure you understand the point here. By mind I'm not talking about Einstein's 'scientific mind' or IQ (which these days are deducted by non verbal reasoning). The concept of a 'great' mind in tennis is completely different.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:38 pm

Tenez, did you like the article?

You say mental strength is not a factor these days, between the more physical players, but I beg to differ.
Nadal mentally against Djokovic last year was quite poor. Before Wimbledon he had lost 4 times in a row to Djokovic. Do you remember his terrible forehand on 4-5 30-40 in the first set at Wimbledon?
You could say that he knew Djokovic would outlast him, and hence Nadal pulled the trigger too early, but I've seen Nadal pull the trigger like he did on that shot (the FH CC winner), and he gets it spot on the majority of the time. Mentally I think he didn't believe against Djoko, that was the problem.
And now skip to Rome 2012. Nadal did not miss like that on the important points. You could say that 'because Djokovic had less stamina etc' but how would Nadal know that? It's only after the match you could make that judgement, so surely Nadal would do the same thing as he did in Wimbledon?
I think it's mental- because he beat Djoko in MC by such a convincing margin, he mentally felt assured and did not miss in the key moments.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:48 pm

Tenez, you also say that mental strength doesn't play a big part these days, but look at this possible scenario:

We could have a 6-4 6-4 6-4 match, which in the news will be reported as an easy win.
But the BPs in each set could be: Player A- 1/1 1/1 1/1 and Player B 0/3 0/2 0/4. Total points won could be Player A 80-80 Player B.
Yet it will be reported a straight-forward win for the winner, which really shows the importance of mind in tennis.

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Post by Tenez on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:52 pm

Honestly? Not really. I am not a fan of putting factors in compartment like this. For someone like Raonic for instance a good day woudl make his serve unstopoable, and the mind, the physique, the tactics, the shot selection sould become irrelevant.

Same with Federer in a good day. He is a step ahead of his opponent, so he can choose and execute to perfection without any mental and physical stress (WTF11 match v Nadal for instance).

However what I hilighted in my previous post is that you can choose the "secure road", teh one who is going to give you a max chance of getting deep in slams. And that is the physical route.

That's how I see things.

Federer knew that 10 years ago so he also worked hard and made sure he had a good physical base but that was to be able to execute well after long physical rallies. However nowadays some have put the bar higher physically and we have seen the last last 2 or 3 years the winner has simply be the fittest. Federer's slams being the exceptions. the

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Post by Tenez on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:57 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:Tenez, you also say that mental strength doesn't play a big part these days, but look at this possible scenario:

We could have a 6-4 6-4 6-4 match, which in the news will be reported as an easy win.
But the BPs in each set could be: Player A- 1/1 1/1 1/1 and Player B 0/3 0/2 0/4. Total points won could be Player A 80-80 Player B.
Yet it will be reported a straight-forward win for the winner, which really shows the importance of mind in tennis.

Yes, and don;t you think chance could play a role too? Throw a coin 3 times and it's very likely you may have 3 heads or 3 tails. That's what decide a tennis match sometimes. We fans want to see it as "a deservedly win". That's all we care about....but the reality might be different.

And you are considering "a" match here....but the reality is that Murray, Nadal and Djoko get to the business end of all slams without having much better shots than Seppi or Tsonga. They simply don;t mess around. They will lose a set to Harrison, Ljubici, or Youzhny but the remaining sets will have nothing to do with execution or mind...but legs.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:00 pm

Tenez wrote: For someone like Raonic for instance a good day woudl make his serve unstopoable, and the mind, the physique, the tactics, the shot selection sould become irrelevant.

That's not necessarily true at all.
If he was playing someone like Djokovic, the match could head to tie-breakers every set. Djokovic would dominate on his own serve, and would definitely get a few of Raonic's serves back into play (he is the best returner in the world). So if Raonic was serving at 5-6 in the tiebreaker, set point down, the mental factors would come into play:
Tactically, he would have to try and dictate the point. But can he get the first serve in. He could be on a 'good day' as you say, but he won't get 100% first serves in, that's impossible. Mentally if he doubted himself against Djokovic, in the key moment he could miss his first serve. Djoko would then probably be favourite for the point.
If Djoko did get the serve back, which is very possible, what shot would Raonic play. The FH down the line? Would Raonic believe in himself to execute it perfectly, or would he push it too far, and hand Djokovic the set?

As I say, throughout your career, the mind will always be important for players like Raonic, even if they can just serve bombs.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:02 pm

Tenez wrote:
Amritia3ee wrote:Tenez, you also say that mental strength doesn't play a big part these days, but look at this possible scenario:

We could have a 6-4 6-4 6-4 match, which in the news will be reported as an easy win.
But the BPs in each set could be: Player A- 1/1 1/1 1/1 and Player B 0/3 0/2 0/4. Total points won could be Player A 80-80 Player B.
Yet it will be reported a straight-forward win for the winner, which really shows the importance of mind in tennis.

Yes, and don;t you think chance could play a role too? Throw a coin 3 times and it's very likely you may have 3 heads or 3 tails. That's what decide a tennis match sometimes. We fans want to see it as "a deservedly win". That's all we care about....but the reality might be different.

No it's not chance. How many times have we seen the great champions win, because in the crucial moments they believed in themselves and executed. It's not a coincidence.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:07 pm

Tenez I would like to refer you to a match between Nadal and Ferrer in Barcelona this year. Both players are very fit.
Nadal won 7-6 7-5.
Ferrer had 15 Break points, but only converted 3. In the key points Nadal stepped up his game. Very similar in Rome first set.

Can you not see that it is not chance?

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Post by noleisthebest on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:20 pm

It's pointless looking at someone's play on any given day dissected like this.
The game of tennis is very complex and many things can vary even within one set, let alone a match.

When you start playing any sport, you have your natural talent to accomplish certain aspects of it, you can't do everything super well, those players are extremely rare, so you play to your strengths.
The more talent you have, the less you need to cover up for your weaknesses.

You don't play against yourself, so shot selection depends on your opponent, too.

So to say that tennis is played in the mind and to even try and quanitfy is a bit like fumbling in the dark looking for a non-existant light switch.

Belief and confidence help, but they don't fall from the sky.

I can be the most confident person under the sun, but when I'm on the court it doesn't help if I start spraying balls all over the place.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:30 pm

noleisthebest wrote:It's pointless looking at someone's play on any given day dissected like this.
Why?

noleisthebest wrote:
The game of tennis is very complex and many things can vary even within one set, let alone a match.
I realise that. But the greatest players are the ones who bring their best game to the key moments. See my Raonic vs Djokovic example. You can serve well all set, but if in the TB you serve double faults in the key moments then you won't win.

noleisthebest wrote:
When you start playing any sport, you have your natural talent to accomplish certain aspects of it, you can't do everything super well, those players are extremely rare, so you play to your strengths.
The more talent you have, the less you need to cover up for your weaknesses.
I'm not disputing that at all Thumbs Up

noleisthebest wrote:
You don't play against yourself, so shot selection depends on your opponent, too.
Of course, that's clear. Of course your shot selection depends on your opponent. That's the whole point of shot selection. You hit the shot which is best in a particular situation, trying to find the best way to win the point. Your opponent's weaknesses are a big part of this.

noleisthebest wrote:
So to say that tennis is played in the mind and to even try and quanitfy is a bit like fumbling in the dark looking for a non-existant light switch.
Of course trying to quantify it is practically impossible, I do that to start a debate, you can't find an pin-point exact number.
But why is saying that it is played in the mind wrong? Do you think that the mental factor plays a big role, or not?

noleisthebest wrote:
Belief and confidence help, but they don't fall from the sky.
When did I say it fell from the sky???
Of course they help, in-fact I believe that belief you can win on the court is one of the most crucial aspects of the game. Of course you have to have the ability as well, but without belief it is not possible.

noleisthebest wrote:
I can be the most confident person under the sun, but when I'm on the court it doesn't help if I start spraying balls all over the place.
Why?
Players with more confidence will be able to turn the match around, and try and focus or try a new plan with a clear head.
If you aren't confident you will just continue to get hammered.

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Post by Tenez on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:54 pm

If he was playing someone like Djokovic, the match could head to tie-breakers every set. Djokovic would dominate on his own serve, and would definitely get a few of Raonic's serves back into play (he is the best returner in the world).

You will see Raonic soon blasting all players off court. Not regularly maybe but certainly on occasion. If Rosol can do it, Rao will too.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:56 pm

Tenez, you know that's not the point.
I'm saying if Raonic doesn't believe he can execute on the big moments, will he be able to do so?
Belief, whether you agree or not, is crucial.

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Post by noleisthebest on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:58 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:Tenez, you know that's not the point.
I'm saying if Raonic doesn't believe he can execute on the big moments, will he be able to do so?
Belief, whether you agree or not, is crucial.

What exactly do you mean by "belief", imagine the ball coming at you fast....

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:58 pm

Rosol, in the last game of his match against Nadal, served 3 unreturnables.
If he had doubted himself, and got nervous, would he have done that?

I was there at Centre Court that day and I saw the look on Rosol's face when he came back for the 5th set, and I was very worried. He looked a calm as a cucumber, who was unfazed by the big crowd, ready to strike.

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Post by noleisthebest on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:59 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:Rosol, in the last game of his match against Nadal, served 3 unreturnables.
If he had doubted himself, and got nervous, would he have done that?

I was there at Centre Court that day and I saw the look on Rosol's face when he came back for the 5th set, and I was very worried. He looked a calm as a cucumber, who was unfazed by the big crowd, ready to strike.

so what happened to his belief in the next match?

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:00 pm

noleisthebest wrote:
Amritia3ee wrote:Tenez, you know that's not the point.
I'm saying if Raonic doesn't believe he can execute on the big moments, will he be able to do so?
Belief, whether you agree or not, is crucial.

What exactly do you mean by "belief", imagine the ball coming at you fast....
NITB, you have not yet responded to my post at 8:30 pm. Thumbs Up

What do I mean by belief? The belief that you can win. It's massive. Look at the Nadal vs Ferrer stats I gave you from Barcelona 2012, and then tell me it is not crucial.

In any tight match, it is important. If there is a massive gulf in ability, the no.


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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:01 pm

noleisthebest wrote:
Amritia3ee wrote:Rosol, in the last game of his match against Nadal, served 3 unreturnables.
If he had doubted himself, and got nervous, would he have done that?

I was there at Centre Court that day and I saw the look on Rosol's face when he came back for the 5th set, and I was very worried. He looked a calm as a cucumber, who was unfazed by the big crowd, ready to strike.

so what happened to his belief in the next match?
He didn't believe he could sustain that level of play.
He was not focused at all.

On that day Rosol believed he could win, and he did.
But he's not a great champion.

Great champions believe they can win every-time, whatever the situation, even if they are playing really badly.

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Post by Tenez on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:02 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:
No it's not chance. How many times have we seen the great champions win, because in the crucial moments they believed in themselves and executed. It's not a coincidence.

It's called confidence and it's essentially down to the weapons in hands.

But look at Djoko v Murray...it's 8/7 on H2H and they have at least a couple of matches which coudl have gone either way. So once you attribute Tactic, Execution, etc....to each do you know what is going to be the result next time they play? Nadal was H&S in his H2H v Djoko but but suddenly it;s 7 in a row for Djoko and a months later it's 3 or 4/0 for Nadal. What kind of mental strength suddenly Nadal acquired to reverse 7 straight defeats?

It's a mistake to try to rational things...unless you compare the top players versus the lower ranked ones. But between themselves, it's very clear, it's the fittest who wins!....or sometimes the most talented of the 4.

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Post by Tenez on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:05 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:Tenez, you know that's not the point.
I'm saying if Raonic doesn't believe he can execute on the big moments, will he be able to do so?
Belief, whether you agree or not, is crucial.

The belief will come with the ease at which he can pull aces or winner. If he has to go outside of his comfort zone to win serves and games, He will most likely struggle in the big points, But if he doesn't have too, this confidence and mental strength will get stronger.

That is why the lower ranked players struggle in the big moments most of the time. They need to play their very best just to stay with the top players...and as the match goes on they lose that edge.


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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:07 pm

Tenez wrote:
Amritia3ee wrote:
No it's not chance. How many times have we seen the great champions win, because in the crucial moments they believed in themselves and executed. It's not a coincidence.

It's called confidence.
I totally agree.
Belief and confidence are similar concepts.

Tenez wrote:
But look at Djoko v Murray...it's 8/7 on H2H and they have at least a couple of matches which coudl have gone either way. So once you attribute Tactic, Execution, etc....to each do you know what is going to be the result next time they play?
No, you can never tell. I believe they are very similar players, it's close to call. The winner will generally be the one who plays better in the crucial moment with a few exceptions (eg AO 2011).

Tenez wrote:
Nadal was H&S in his H2H v Djoko but but suddenly it;s 7 in a row for Djoko and a months later it's 3 or 4/0 for Nadal. What kind of mental strength suddenly Nadal acquired to reverse 7 straight defeats?
Djokovic gained confidence from his fantastic run at the start of 2011. Nadal gained confidence from his AO 2012 match, knowing a win was possible. His win in MC over a grief-stricken Djokovic was also big.


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Post by Tenez on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:19 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:I totally agree.
Belief and confidence are similar concepts.
You replied too quickly....I edited my post and added that confidence was down the weapons in hand.


No, you can never tell. I believe they are very similar players, it's close to call. The winner will generally be the one who plays better in the crucial moment with a few exceptions (eg AO 2011).

SO that contradicts your point and supports mine. If those crucial moments were down to mind as you say, then it woudl always go with the mentally stronger player. Yet we can see that they don;t seem to be stronger than the other. In fact I think Djoko seems to me certainly much stronger mentally but their 8/7 H2H hardly proves that, does he?

[/quote]
Djokovic gained confidence from his fantastic run at the start of 2011. Nadal gained confidence from his AO 2012 match, knowing a win was possible. His win in MC over a grief-stricken Djokovic was also big.
[/quote]

So what are the roles of tactics, Execution, Physique, mental strength etc...if at the end you say it's down to confidence....and what is confidence based on?

If you look at the last USO final, to me it is clear that luck (the wind and a day less rest) was a much bigger factor than your tactics, execution, physique, mental strength combined. But we don't want to see it that way...we want to see a rational process behind everything but sometimes there isn't.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:24 pm

Tenez wrote:

No, you can never tell. I believe they are very similar players, it's close to call. The winner will generally be the one who plays better in the crucial moment with a few exceptions (eg AO 2011).

SO that contradicts your point and supports mine. If those crucial moments were down to mind as you say, then it woudl always go with the mentally stronger player. Yet we can see that they don;t seem to be stronger than the other. In fact I think Djoko seems to me certainly much stronger mentally but their 8/7 H2H hardly proves that, does he?

You can 'gain' mental belief. It is not a fixed thing. Murray from 2010 would not have won the 2012 final, even if he was as fit as he is now.


Tenez wrote:
So what are the roles of tactics, Execution, Physique, mental strength etc...if at the end you say it's down to confidence....and what is confidence based on?
Djokovic had the game always, but that mental belief was crucial for him to go that extra step?
What gave Djokovic the belief and confidence? I believe the Davis Cup final 2011 was huge for him mentally.

Tenez wrote:
If you look at the last USO final, to me it is clear that luck (the wind and a day less rest) was a much bigger factor than your tactics, execution, physique, mental strength combined. But we don't want to see it that way...we want to see a rational process behind everything but sometimes there isn't.
Luck does play a role sometimes, but over time I believe it evens out.
What was the 'luck' factor in the Barcelona final this year?

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Post by Tenez on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:38 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:You can 'gain' mental belief. It is not a fixed thing. Murray from 2010 would not have won the 2012 final, even if he was as fit as he is now.

You see, I don't buy that. Murray in 2008 was mentally strong enough to beat Nadal in the USO semi and again in AO10. If he had lost one more point in that last USO 1set TB, then Djoko coudl have won in 3 or 4 and you woudl be saying that Murray woudl still not be mentally strong enough to win a slam. Do you understand that you make serious conclusion about mental strength out of fractional pieces of luck.


What gave Djokovic the belief and confidence? I believe the Davis Cup final 2011 was huge for him mentally.
Sounds good but frankly do you think it's that confidence which allowed him to physically outlast Nadal on all surfaces?


What was the 'luck' factor in the Barcelona final this year?
Not sure what you are talking about. DO you meant the Ferrer v Nadal match? There it's essentially down to fitness.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:46 pm

Tenez wrote:
Amritia3ee wrote:You can 'gain' mental belief. It is not a fixed thing. Murray from 2010 would not have won the 2012 final, even if he was as fit as he is now.

You see, I don't buy that. Murray in 2008 was mentally strong enough to beat Nadal in the USO semi and again in AO10. If he had lost one more point in that last USO 1set TB, then Djoko coudl have won in 3 or 4 and you woudl be saying that Murray woudl still not be mentally strong enough to win a slam. Do you understand that you make serious conclusion about mental strength out of fractional pieces of luck.
Tenez it was Grand Slam final where Murray lacked belief, on the biggest stage he doubted himself.
That first set TB Murray previously would not have won. He kept on clinging onto his lead, and eventually he edged it.

What gave Djokovic the belief and confidence? I believe the Davis Cup final 2011 was huge for him mentally.
Sounds good but frankly do you think it's that confidence which allowed him to physically outlast Nadal on all surfaces?
Confidence in the key moments was as important as his fitness. Miami 2011 final set TB, Djoko both needed confidence and fitness to win that. Mentally he was in a good position after his unbeaten run.

What was the 'luck' factor in the Barcelona final this year?
Not sure what you are talking about. DO you meant the Ferrer v Nadal match? There it's essentially down to fitness.
Are you joking? Have you seen the stats? Fitness?
Nadal saved 8 set points at 5-6 in the first set. Nadal then took the TB. In the second set Nadal also played better in the crucial moments.
Ferrer finished with BP conversion figures of 3/15.

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Post by sphairistike on Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:19 pm

I read quickly all that but there are too many points here and there to get into the detail of. What I'd have to say - but seems it has already been mentioned by Tenez at least - is the following:
1- I would not compartmentalize things like that as they are usually all linked to a degree
2- When your physique is letting you down and it becomes tougher and tougher to hit high skilled shots that require a mix of timing, technical abilities and strength, are you really getting mentally fragile? My answer would be no, the physique let you down first, but I'm sure some viewers would think the player got mentally tired, and yes he might get there at some point as he knows he cannot hit his shots, but really the physique let down is the cause, the rest only a consequence...

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Post by Tenez on Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:25 pm

Yes, the physique is simply the base needed to produce shot execution selection and execution, tactics, which can only build a player's confidence and mental strength.

Look at Nadal. Most of the time he starts his matches panicking and lags behind in the score but as the match lengthens his opponent tires, then Nadal's mental strength increases while his opponent's appears to mentally melt.

That is so obvious between Nadal and Federer. People have always said that Nadal was in Fed's head....and I always refused to believe that cause I knew how big the physical challenge Nadal represents.

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Post by sphairistike on Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:48 pm

Agreed! Plus Fed has shown us the last 12 months or so that he does not think Nadal should win the match and knows it's all on his own racquet and that as long as he can produce his tennis he should win. Unfortunately we all know that it does not often happen the way we'd hope... Still, with all the disadvantages that the match-up has, Fed is still better than one win every 3 matches, which in itself is impressive!

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Post by Tenez on Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:03 pm

sphairistike wrote:...Unfortunately we all know that it does not often happen the way we'd hope...

Because for Federer the execution and shot selection his extremely important as he knows his edge, sharpness will deteriorate (his main strength) as the match drags on. This adds extra pressure on the important point.

Look at his first set set point at the FO11. He chooses not very smartly to go for a drop shot at the end of the set. Bad execution, bad tactics which resulted in Nadal winning the point and teh set without really risking anything but making sure his covering of the ground was as good as ever. It's a completely different mental approach for both. Federer has to gamble on those big points while Nadal doesn't.

And we saw in the past Djoko (and many other players( losing many matches like that v Nadal. The trend completely reversed for Djoko the day he did not have to go for broke in those key BP, SP and MP....forcing actually Nadal to shorten the rallies as Djoko coudl keep rallying as long as Nadal with Nadal losing his power during the rally very quickly after 10-shots.

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Post by noleisthebest on Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:45 pm

Just came across this on tennis.com:

"Making more unforced errors than usual? Change your mental approach and you may still win.
We’ve all had those awful days when we just can’t seem to control the
tennis ball. I am not referring to those days when you are playing
slightly below par. In those cases, you hold yourself together, make
small technical adjustments, and you can play yourself good as the match
goes on. No, I mean those times when there is no shot that’s secure,
and your nervous system seems to be completely out of sync. You try to
relax and play normally, but it doesn’t work, and the appalling errors
continue. What can you do about it?

Your first move should be to keep a tight leash on your emotional
system. You will be sorely tested. Each shocking error will naturally
evoke powerful feelings of frustration and anger. It’s one thing to miss
your normal mix of shots, but it’s quite another when you miss an
extraordinary number of easy ones by wide margins. It’s going to require
some effort of will to resist the demands of your emotional system to
chuck your racquet over the fence. But resist you must.

The first step toward salvation is to accept the fact that this is one
of those days. It doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do about it,
but it does mean that you can’t just expect your game to revert to
normal. It probably won’t. You can, however, drive your error rate down
and remain functional with concentration, emotional discipline and a
modified game plan.

Your game plan will need to become more mechanical and conservative
than usual. Resist any urge to get creative or tricky with your shot
selection. This will lead to errors. Instead, hit more crosscourt shots
and attempt fewer down-the-line winners. Take a little off your first
serve and put a higher percentage of serves in play. Incorporate more
margin into all your shots by staying farther away from the net and
lines than normal. Be prepared to win more by attrition than by great
shots. Assume you will have to do more running than usual and that
points will last longer. You must be determined to work harder, both
mentally and physically, to grind your opponent down. If you are going
to try to put the ball away, you are best off doing it with a net
attack, assuming, of course, you can volley and hit overheads.

Concentrate on the fundamentals of your strokes—watching the ball,
getting into position early, keeping your hands relaxed, and using your
body rotation and legs to move the racquet. Normally these are things
that you do automatically as part of smooth-functioning habits. You
don’t usually have to think about them. But when the nervous system is
out of whack you have to drive the process more consciously. It takes
tremendous mental effort, but you can do it if you are sufficiently
determined. And you can’t relax your concentration for an instant until
the match is over. The second you do, you will start missing again, so
no lead is suffcient for you to relax your vigilance.

This approach takes a great deal of mental effort, and though it will
not make you play great, it will, at least, keep your game serviceable.
It’s not as relaxing or as much fun as playing on autopilot, but it will
give you a chance to win a match that you would otherwise lose. So on
balance, it’s not a bad bargain."


some interesting paragraphs, personally, I don't think much of the above applies to pros.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:53 pm

sphairistike wrote:I read quickly all that but there are too many points here and there to get into the detail of. What I'd have to say - but seems it has already been mentioned by Tenez at least - is the following:
1- I would not compartmentalize things like that as they are usually all linked to a degree
2- When your physique is letting you down and it becomes tougher and tougher to hit high skilled shots that require a mix of timing, technical abilities and strength, are you really getting mentally fragile? My answer would be no, the physique let you down first, but I'm sure some viewers would think the player got mentally tired, and yes he might get there at some point as he knows he cannot hit his shots, but really the physique let down is the cause, the rest only a consequence...
Sphair, you should read the whole thing, because what you have said is very similar to what I have said!
In the first point anyway Winking
I totally agree that these 5 aspects are linked, in-fact I would go as far to say that they are all definitely interlinked with one another in some way. Shot selection comes from belief, if you have the belief you can choose the right shots in the key moments.
Belief arguably comes from your ability (to execute) if you know you have the shots, and the ability to win a match, then you will believe in yourself more, as is natural.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:58 pm

On your second point, Sphair, I think it is interesting. Once again I believe that all both physical and mental energy are linked very closely, when you run out of physical energy, mentally you tend to give up. So you've basically hit the nail on the head there.
However I do believe there are occasions where 'mental energy' plays a bigger role. My example would be this US Open final- in the 5th set. I feel the first game was crucial. Djokovic lost his serve, and from there mentally he looked like he just simply could not give anymore. If he had won the first few games, I believe he could have won the match, Djokovic wasn't physically out of it.

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Post by noleisthebest on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:00 pm

Amri,
what is "mental energy" ?

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:01 pm

sphairistike wrote:Fed is still better than one win every 3 matches, which in itself is impressive!
Bubbly

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:05 pm

noleisthebest wrote:Amri,
what is "mental energy" ?
Interesting question NITB.
There is a difference between being 'mentally drained' and 'physically drained.' A subtle difference, but it exists. Tenez will argue that the two go hand in hand, and often depend on each other, and I think he is right on that as a whole, but there are a few examples where a difference can be distinguished.
I will take the USO 2012 final as an example. I believe that Djokovic lost that last set because mentally he was drained. The first game of the fifth set was crucial.
If Djokovic wins the first few games, I think he would have gone on to win the match, because physically he was ok. Djokovic had the stamina. But I believe losing those first 2 games immediately saps Djokovic mentally.

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Post by noleisthebest on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:17 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:
noleisthebest wrote:Amri,
what is "mental energy" ?
Interesting question NITB.
There is a difference between being 'mentally drained' and 'physically drained.' A subtle difference, but it exists. Tenez will argue that the two go hand in hand, and often depend on each other, and I think he is right on that as a whole, but there are a few examples where a difference can be distinguished.
I will take the USO 2012 final as an example. I believe that Djokovic lost that last set because mentally he was drained. The first game of the fifth set was crucial.
If Djokovic wins the first few games, I think he would have gone on to win the match, because physically he was ok. Djokovic had the stamina. But I believe losing those first 2 games immediately saps Djokovic mentally.

That still does not answer the question.
I hope you are beginning to see why the article sounds a bit artificial and theoretical.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:24 pm

noleisthebest wrote:
Amritia3ee wrote:
noleisthebest wrote:Amri,
what is "mental energy" ?
Interesting question NITB.
There is a difference between being 'mentally drained' and 'physically drained.' A subtle difference, but it exists. Tenez will argue that the two go hand in hand, and often depend on each other, and I think he is right on that as a whole, but there are a few examples where a difference can be distinguished.
I will take the USO 2012 final as an example. I believe that Djokovic lost that last set because mentally he was drained. The first game of the fifth set was crucial.
If Djokovic wins the first few games, I think he would have gone on to win the match, because physically he was ok. Djokovic had the stamina. But I believe losing those first 2 games immediately saps Djokovic mentally.

That still does not answer the question.
I hope you are beginning to see why the article sounds a bit artificial and theoretical.
I don't see what you don't understand.
If you play sport that then I thought you would be able to recognise what I am talking about.

Let me try and make this really really simple. Let me take this away from sport.
You have sat 5 hours of exams without break, and you say you are 'mentally out of energy.'
Can you run fast? Yes.
Are you out of breath? No.
Are you physically affected at all by the exams? No.

You are 'mentally drained', 'mentally tired.' Can you understand yet?

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Post by noleisthebest on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:26 pm

Keep it tennis focused please.

Even with your exam example, I can't relate to it as I have never been mentally out of energy (whatever that means), I may have been physically tired due to lack of sleep, but that's about it.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:29 pm

noleisthebest wrote:Keep it tennis focused please.
I did, but you couldn't understand what I was saying. In tennis it is very easy to get confused between physical and mental energy, as they normally go hand in hand.

noleisthebest wrote:
Even with your exam example, I can't relate to it as I have never been mentally out of energy (whatever that means), I may have been physically tired due to lack of sleep, but that's about it.
I have, I've felt mentally drained before after a long week of exams, even if I have had enough sleep.
Doesn't mean I can't run, or would be out of stamina Thumbs Up

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Post by Tenez on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:33 pm

Amritia3ee wrote:

That still does not answer the question.
I hope you are beginning to see why the article sounds a bit artificial and theoretical.
I don't see what you don't understand.
If you play sport that then I thought you would be able to recognise what I am talking about.

Let me try and make this really really simple. Let me take this away from sport.
You have sat 5 hours of exams without break, and you say you are 'mentally out of energy.'
Can you run fast? Yes.
Are you out of breath? No.
Are you physically affected at all by the exams? No.

You are 'mentally drained', 'mentally tired.' Can you understand yet?[/quote]

You have to think the other way around.

Imagine you have had ran 6 miles at gull speed yesterday, today your also ran 10 miles at full speed and you are very exhausted and you are racing against someone who is fresher than you cause he rested yesterday, You have 5 miles left before the finishing line. Please tell me how you feel mentally. And then how your mental strength is going to help you overtake the guy who is fresher than you?

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:36 pm

Tenez, you said SR was bad at quoting!
Don't worry I'll try to decipher what's what Winking

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:41 pm

Tenez wrote:
You have to think the other way around.

Imagine you have had ran 6 miles at gull speed yesterday, today your also ran 10 miles at full speed and you are very exhausted and you are racing against someone who is fresher than you cause he rested yesterday, You have 5 miles left before the finishing line. Please tell me how you feel mentally. And then how your mental strength is going to help you overtake the guy who is fresher than you?
You make an excellent point.
In-fact if you look back to my conversation with NITB, I even predicted you would make this point Thumbs Up

I think the point you are making is that in sport (which requires physical energy), the 'physical' and 'mental' energy is linked together, and as I have often said go hand in hand. In the example you have given here, this is the case, clearly that not only will the physical tiredness sap your mental energy, your 'mentality' won't help as your legs and stamina will not be enough in this race.

But I don't think this is always the case, let me quote what I said earlier with Djoko USO 2012 as an example:
Amritia3ee wrote:
There is a difference between being 'mentally drained' and 'physically drained.' A subtle difference, but it exists. Tenez will argue that the two go hand in hand, and often depend on each other, and I think he is right on that as a whole, but there are a few examples where a difference can be distinguished.
I will take the USO 2012 final as an example. I believe that Djokovic lost that last set because mentally he was drained. The first game of the fifth set was crucial.
If Djokovic wins the first few games, I think he would have gone on to win the match, because physically he had enough. Djokovic had the stamina. But I believe losing those first 2 games immediately saps Djokovic mentally.

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Post by Larry Ellison on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:45 pm

I am quoting an interesting extract from v2, where me, Lydian and BB are having a discussion on this issue.
I hope NITB doesn't mind Winking

It Must Be Love wrote:
BB, as a whole I would agree with your sentiments, that belief and shot-making ability are inherently interlinked.
Over the years on 606, across different forums, I have seen 2 possible versions of how to explain the difference in mentality between the top 100.

1 argument is:
The top players are just naturally more talented it than the rest, this is why they are champions. Their great mentality and belief comes from the fact that they know they are the best, and they know they have the ability.

But another opposing view could be:
The difference in talent and shots between around top 10 and the top 50 is not actually that huge, but what separates the top few is their mentality. The champions have a great mentality, and this is what divides them, and makes them champions. Whether it's the environment they were growing up in (compare the hard force of Uncle Toni and the difficulties that Djoko had to go through in Serbia, to the upbringing of Gulbis) or they could have just been born with it.

Personally I would say argument 1 holds more water for me, but of course different people have their opinions.


lydian wrote:Tennis, like golf, is perhaps unique in terms of the range and wealth of technique needed to excel at the sport. Other ball sports dont come close in my opinion....and certainly not Matthew Syed's table tennis.

Where technique is involved on such a large court/pitch/course there is always the possibility for technique to break down. Stopping technique from breaking down under pressure for me is a sign of mental strength, but its also a sign of drilled practice. However, concerted drilled practice over years also requires mental strength!

But I cant say how much tennis is mental in terms of % points...clearly its huge. An article a few years back looked at why top tennis players were successful. It boiled down to 3 mental things:

1. High levels of repressive coping....i.e. can handle/suppress huge amounts of pressure
2. Low level of neuroticism....i.e. dont worry much about things going wrong
3. Able to switch between high or low levels of hypnotic susceptibility...high to stay focused in the moment when necessary...low when needed to change game plans mid-match.

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