Lleyton Hewitt | How To Play Better Tennis – Tips From A Professional Tennis Coach

5 Lessons To Learn From Lleyton
Sunday, August 19th, 2007
Lleyton Hewitt lost to Roger Federer in the semifinals of the Cincinnati Masters Series with the 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (1) score.

Although Lleyton lost, there were some interesting lessons in how he played Roger and almost beat the current nr.1 player in the world.

Lleyton Hewitt Forehand


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Why Are Rain Delays So Mentally Tough?
Wednesday, July 4th, 2007
Wimbledon has been struck a with bad weather curse this year. The organizers are 177 matches behind the schedule at the time of this writing.

It’s not only tough for the Wimbledon organizers and visitors; it’s mentally draining for the players too.

Rain in Wimbledon
(AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Lleyton Hewitt for example started his third-round match against No. 22 Guillermo Canas of Argentina on Saturday, but rain and darkness delayed the 2002 champion’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win until three days later. (more…)

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Mental Differences Between Hewitt And Gaudio
Thursday, May 31st, 2007
Lleyton Hewitt beat Gaston Gaudio in the second round of French Open 2007 after being 0:2 down in sets. The final score was 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Here are some interesting comments they both made in their interview after the match and what you can learn from them: (more…)


Justine Henin | How To Play Better Tennis – Tips From A Professional Tennis Coach

4 Reasons Why Justine Henin Ended Her Career
Friday, June 20th, 2008
Justine HeninJustine Henin recently retired at the age of 25 while still being the No. 1 in the WTA rankings.

To many of us this decision was a surprise, especially since Justine was a favorite to win another French Open title this year.

So why did Justine Henin quit from professional tennis at only 25?

1. Wishing to live a full life
Being a top professional tennis player is very demanding and takes a lot of sacrifices.

Justine had to sacrifice many events in her youth to pursue her career while watching her friends enjoy parties, socializing in school, holidays, going to the movies and so on.

Even at young age of 15 or 16, tennis players practice at least 4 hours on court and 1 hour off court. The rest of the time is dedicated to proper nutrition and rest.

And when you are becoming successful in the WTA tour (Justine entered top 100 in the WTA in 1999), you are pushing your body and mind to the limit almost every day in order to compete and win against the best in the world. (more…)

Posted in Justine Henin | 3 Comments »

My Thoughts On The Henin Bartoli Semifinal Match In Wimbledon
Saturday, July 7th, 2007
Marion Bartoli won against Justine Henin 1:6, 7:5, 6:1 in Wimbledon today.

It’s a surprising win of course, but if we dig a little deeper, we can understand why this happened.


Nicolas Massu – One Of The Most Exciting Tennis Players To Watch

Review of Andre Agassi’s Open: An Autobiography

I’ve recently had the chance to read Andre Agassi’s autobiography, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Open is definitely the right title since Andre really opens up about every aspect of his life.

He openly shares his thoughts about tennis, his relationship with his father, his relationships with his girlfriends, media, and other tennis players.

So what does Andre tell us that we didn’t already know?

Well, one of the reasons Andre decided to publish this book is to tell the truth about his life, because the media has shown us a totally different man – and that’s NOT who Andre really is.

Andre felt that if he didn’t set the record straight, we would always be misled by all the yellow press stories published by those whose only interest is to get more readers so as to earn more money, not to share the truth.

Andre’s book starts with his US Open match against Marcos Baghdatis. Andre’s description of the match is so vivid, because of his remarkable memory of almost every point, his intelligent observations about the game of tennis and life, and his smart tactical views of the game.

If you’re a tennis player, it’s going to be very hard to stop reading until the end of the account of this match.

The book then continues with the life of Andre at an early age and how his obsessed father forced him to play tennis for hours and hours in the desert heat of Las Vegas.

I won’t spoil the details of the whole story, but Andre will take you from when he is the age of seven to his last official match at the US Open, and show you the truth of what really happened in his life.

I personally think that it’s almost a miracle that Andre won as many titles as he did despite his fragile mind, lack of confidence, and all the psychological issues going on inside of him. He really found peace with Steffi Graf, and if Andre had found such peace five years earlier, I think that he would have won twelve or more Grand Slams, for sure.

I really enjoyed the book, because of Andre’s uncanny humor, his openness about his dark side, his views on the tactical and mental game of tennis, and his views on fellow tennis players, like Pete Sampras, who often prevented Andre from winning another Slam or big title, but also taught Andre so much about tennis and himself.

If you’re a tennis player, you’ll learn a lot about the game of tennis on the highest level and how simple it can be sometimes. (Brad Gilbert once suggested to Andre, “Don’t miss,” and hearing that was all it took for Andre to turn the match around.)

And if you’re just a tennis fan, you simply have to read to book to get the real facts about Andre Agassi. You can’t go on believing the hyped and distorted media news and stories that you have read so far.

Disclosure: I received Open: An Autobiography free of charge from Knopf Publishing. However, I don’t receive any commission for copies purchased through any of my Web site links.

Related posts:

How To Improve Your Motivation For Playing Tennis
Useful Resources For Tennis Parents
Federer Vs. Sampras Grand Slam Comparison – Who Had a Tougher Job?
Bring Your Racquet – Tennis Basics For Kids Book Review
Sampras vs. Federer in Their Prime – Who Wins?

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Friday, December 4th, 2009 at 12:19 pm and is filed under ATP tour. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Review of Andre Agassi’s Open: An Autobiography”
Alex Says:
December 5th, 2009 at 2:10 pm
Andre’s book, “Open,” is truly awesome! I loved reading every minute of it. I’ve never read a book quite like this. The fast pace of the book keeps the reader glued from the first page. The details of the matches are amazing! If you want to find out what it took to make an 8 time Grand Slam champion and a true tennis legend, and the agonizing sacrifices that go along with that, then you have to read Andre’s story.


Leo Says:
December 28th, 2009 at 2:09 pm
Yes, I agree, it is a compelling book from start to finish, perhaps if history had changed, and he didn’t make it as a tennis player, then he could have become a prolific author! Seriously though, it was brave of him to ‘come clean’ with the drugs issue, I wonder how many other players would have done the same?

Andre Aggasi is a tennis legend, and I think that is how we should all remember him.


Stephen Says:
January 2nd, 2010 at 7:33 am
For me, I could not finish the book. It was tough waiting for any valuable nugget while wading through page after page of his self destructing behavior, the results of years of negative conditioning. Reading when he went to view Brooke’s taping of the TV show “Friends” and in the script she had to lick a guys hand and Andre could not handle her “acting” her part, he ran out out of the studio, sped home and smashed and broke all his tennis trophies including Wimbeldon – smashed them to pieces over Brooke doing her job as an actress – was my tipping point. I had enough of his defeating negative mental condition. There were some nuggets of value but wading through page after page of tripe was not worth it for me.


Denis Hopking Says:
February 15th, 2010 at 6:57 am
This is the best book I have read for ages! I loved and lived every episode and couldn’t wait to read the next chapter. Agassi’s relationships with Gil and Brad were awe inspiring – his obvious reverence and ability to listen to their guidance and their care for his development was profound. I thought the way that the book started with the end first was fantastic and listening to Agassi share those background hours before his match with Bagdadis were powerful – his obsessive nature towards his tennis bag and racquets showed a professional perfectionist!
This book, I am certain, will be made into an Oscar winning film not far in the future because it goes through dark turmoil into humanitarian fulfilment.
Thank you Andre for being so honest and open.


Useful Resources For Tennis Parents

Useful Resources For Tennis Parents

Q&AI am a Mom of a ten year old tennis player. He just started playing this past year and is doing well. Fortunately, we have a very nice tennis facility where we are members nearby.

My entire family plays tennis, but my son and I make it a priority. I would like your suggestion for videos or books that would be beneficial for his game. He is a natural athlete and does well at most sports that require upper body strength including, golf, baseball, basketball, racketball, etc.

He is playing tennis three hours a day in a program. He does well working with pros, but does not like any criticism from his father or myself and we try to be positive. I liked the information on your site, especially the text on mental state of mind.

Thanks for your time.

Hi and thanks for the message!

I am not sure if you are asking me for books and videos that your son will read and watch or books and videos for tennis parents that will help you guide him with more understanding of the tennis game…

For him; have him watch slow motion videos if you can. You can find many on, or search on Youtube.

That way he will learn subconsciously the correct technique and movement.

The only book that I know that could be suitable for 10 year old kids is my Mental Manual ebook. Please don’t think this as bragging but I haven’t come across books written for kids.

All the books are written for coaches, tennis parents and adult player but none for kids.

I wrote the Manual for kids so that they can help themselves in critical situations. It’s also useful for tennis parents when they go to a tournament with their kid and without the coach.

That way a parent has some good, proven tips that they can give to their kid.

The tips are just a few lines short and you can also download free preview. Just follow the above link.

And please don’t buy if you won’t use it. It only works if it is used often. 😉

And for tennis parents; again, I suggest for great instruction materials, maybe Tennis Server for good tips and try a search on google for junior tennis, or tennis for kids and so on.

The books that I read and recommend are:

Raising Big Smiling Tennis Kids: A Complete Roadmap for Every Parent and Coach


Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child.

Here are some more resources for you: (they open in a new window)

The role of parents in junior tennis

Being a better tennis parent

British tennis parents

All the best in your tennis adventure!

Related posts:

Bring Your Racquet – Tennis Basics For Kids Book Review
Pressure To Keep Winning Matches
How To Make The Best Of Your Talent
How Much Can Forgetting One Tennis Tip Cost You
4 Ways To Ease The Stress Of Competition For Tennis Juniors

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 at 10:35 pm and is filed under Tennis Parents. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Useful Resources For Tennis Parents”
Tennis Mom Says:
June 14th, 2007 at 11:20 am
Thanks so much for the great tips and useful information regarding my son. I have already ordered a few books and printed tons of info from your site. I wish everyone was as quick with a response. I will keep in touch with my son’s progress. Remember it take three cons to be a pro:


You must have all three to succeed!

Tennis Mom of Two


Is Losing The Desire To Win Tennis Matches Bad?

Is Losing The Desire To Win Tennis Matches Bad?

I have a (probably) mental tennis question to ask. I’m 45 years old now.

I played in two singles tournaments (NTRP 5.0 and above) in the past two months. The first time, I beat a title contender in semi and got cramped, so had to forfeit the finals.

The second time, I beat a top senior player in the first round 9-7, beat a 34 years old 5.5 player 8-4 in the second round.

In all these matches, I played above my “daily” level. I saw the ball clearer than usual, my legs moved almost by itself and my body moved through every stroke, and my volleys were all phenomenal (I played an extreme net rushing style : the way Stefan Edberg and Pat Rafter played).

The problem is – the next morning, in the semi of the second tournament, I played against the same guy I beat in the last semi. But this time, I lost 0-8!!

He didn’t play that better, but I experienced a strange feeling. First, I missed all the easy volleys (hit the frame, dumped it to the net, sent it wide, long, anything that lost the point). And I still felt so relaxed that I didn’t care to increase my focus.

I didn’t care to raise the consistency. I just felt so lazy to fix it. My opponent, however, was on fire as he really expected a revenge.

I didn’t plan to play loose. I went there intending to play as usual, but the eyes, hand, and body don’t seem to get along like the afternoon of the day before. And I didn’t do any thing to fix the problem. So the result was logical.

And I didn’t feel bad or upset being beat 8-0. I knew I could play much better but realized that – on that day I could lose to any 3.5 player.

This is my first lost in 5-6 matches after beating many reputed players. And I don’t understand why I didn’t try to fight (well, I have digged deeper and have come back to win matches before, but not this time).


From what I read I sense that before that 0:8 match you were very motivated to win. In that match, you were not that motivated – therefore you did not play with the same intensity and desire to win and fight as previous matches.

You’re asking what the problem is.

I am not sure there is a problem. If you’re not motivated to win, that’s fine. Why would you need to be motivated to win to live a happy life?

I am quite happy and yet I don’t play matches.

You might have reached the stage where winning is not that important any more. You know you are a good player even if you don’t win.

The desire to win comes from insecurity – we feel we are not good enough and we need external proof that we are good. We need wins to convince us that we are good.

Of course, that feeling (if we win) lasts very short time. That’s because we didn’t really heal the inside part which still doubts our qualities.

So we need to play matches and win them to put a short term band-aid on our wound – which is typically lack of self-esteem and lack of confidence.

If we eventually realize that we are good tennis players regardless of the outside result, we will lose the need to prove that to ourselves with won matches. We will lose motivation to compete – as we will be at peace with ourselves.

That’s what the ultimate goal of everyone should be.

So in my opinion you have reached that state – even if for a short while. You did not need a win to feel good and the loss did not hurt you.

That points to healthy self esteem and solid confidence about your tennis game.

I personally have also reached that stage where I feel that I am a good tennis player and I don’t need external proof to keep convincing me that over and over again. Therefore I don’t have the desire to compete.

If a friend asks me to play a set I agree, but I don’t need to win. I enjoy the fight, being active and alive while running for the balls.

I do play to win because once I decide to compete my mind automatically switches over to “compete mode” and I play with 100% effort.

It has been “installed” into me through 23 years of competing in tennis and 16 years of competing in volleyball. I am aware that I compete well because I am an athlete and I feel it’s a like a code of conduct to perform at my 100% effort.

If I don’t do that, then I am not an athlete. I don’t deserve that title. I am just a regular guy sweating out on a tennis court. And that’s not who I am.

So bottom line: I am sharing my views on competing and how I don’t need to compete and win but if I choose to, then I play like a true competitor. I am not attached to the outcome and am therefore playing totally freely and therefore enjoy the game even more.

I think that this is what everyone should strive for and not be a slave to constant desire to win matches in order to prove to yourself that you are a good tennis player.

This proof needs to be internal – your own opinion of yourself needs to be that strong and that permanent so that you don’t need any more external rewards to confirm that.

You seem to be going in the right direction – and while at this moment you feel that something is wrong, I personally do not. I believe that you should be more and more aware of your own perception of yourself and become more and more at peace with yourself.

You’ll then be able to channel your energy into something more creative and productive and useful for your life (and other fellow people) than wasting it in tennis matches – which in reality mean nothing in real life.

Related posts:

3 Reasons Why A Tennis Qualifier Can Beat A Top Player
I Don’t Like Competing In Tennis And Hurting Other People’s Feelings If I Win
How Rafael Nadal Gets Into The Right State Before The Match And What You Can Learn From That
How To Stop Losing Against The Same Opponent
Should My Child Participate In Tennis Tournaments?

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 11:41 am and is filed under Mental Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Is Losing The Desire To Win Tennis Matches Bad?”
Arturo Hernandez Says:
September 10th, 2010 at 11:41 am
Very interesting post. Two comments.

I have also started to experience a feeling of satisfaction independent of winning or losing. In fact, I doubt that even professionals play every practice match with the intention of winning. They save themselves for the most important matches. I think Sampras lost at Queens every year that he won Wimbledon. Maturity allows people to pick their spots and to realize that this is just one match. In your case, you realized that the 0-8 loss was just one match and not a reflection of you as a player.

I wonder, however, whether you might have actually been feeling fatigued. McEnroe has commented numerous times on the fact that recovery is harder as a person gets older. Maybe it was just fatigue. It sounds like you are playing much younger opponents. Your recovery may not be as swift as theirs.


rodrigo Says:
September 29th, 2010 at 1:12 pm
your out of shape. fatigue has entered your thought patterns and it inhibits your performance creating a loss in mind first then in match. this truth is the first rule in any sport. you need to train harder and more than your adversaries. track work, gym work, and on court drills. without this you will not have the desire to win. if you dont train hard you have nothing to lose. training hard gives you the desire as you feel that you deserve the victory. desire to win is not derived from playing matches its from making the committment to train harder than your matches, opponents, and your mind’s tolerances. you get what you deserve. i dont care if your 45. you can play like your 25 if you believe and stop whinning about winning and losing. if you played on the tour then use your past knowledge of your on court and off court training with its difficulties and rewards. fatigue, ever so slight is a detriment to any shot, you concentration, and your desire for victory. with training comes insight, clarity, and greater desire. the fastest way to improve your tennis is to improve your athletic capabilities. i wish you the best.


A.David Says:
October 3rd, 2010 at 1:23 pm
Hey Rodrigo,

You are so right! To know at what time on the clock your energy begins to wain is the clue. Is it one hour into the match, 30 minutes, more? Get to the stationary bicycle and start increasing the endurace daily. Use the heart monitor and computer feedback as well. This will increase the level of energy on the court tremendously as any age. It takes effort and will power to transfer the gym to the court.


How To Make My Son A Champion

How To Make My Son A Champion

My son is one year old. I wanna make him superstar like Roger Federer.

How should I start preparing him for a tennis career?

When should he start playing tennis and how should I proceed to achieve his success?

First, let me share my opinion on this topic.

Your son is NOT your property.

It is not morally right to MAKE something out of your son. He is a free person and when he grows up a little more he needs to have free will to choose whatever he likes to do whether you like it or not.

A parent is just a guide. You can show him what you think is good in life and then let him choose whether he likes that too or not.

What you are talking about is mostly for your own benefits – ego. You probably dream about having a lot of money or being famous.

If YOU lack money or attention, then this is YOUR problem and not your son’s.

You cannot use him as a means of achieving your goals. This is far from unconditional love that parents need to give their children.

Now that I have hopefully made you think about parent – child relationship, here’s what you can do JUST IN CASE your son really falls in love with tennis and later decide to try and become a top player:

1. Develop motor skills needed for tennis – play different game with balls – rolling, catching, playing soccer, volleyball, basketball, table tennis and so on.

2. Develop good reactions – play table tennis, have your son play as a goalie in soccer or handball and so on.

3. Develop great natural footwork – the best is soccer and anything else that comes to mind where feet need to work fast.

Dancing is also good. I am not joking.

I’ve taught many girls who had very good footwork even as beginners. They told me they took dancing classes.

4. Introduce tennis early – maybe at 4, but don’t make it a priority. Just play.

Children want to play not train. If you start training too early, your son may very likely not like it.

This is the key to helping someone become a champion. Let them play and enjoy the game.

Somewhere around 7 or 8 years old you have to check whether your child REALLY loves tennis. If yes, let him play every day.

The goal of practice should be developing tennis motor skills, ball judgment, coordination, speed, reactions, balance and complete technique of all shots.

Technique of all shots should be very good by the age of 12. After that it’s more refining the technique rather than learning something new.

Between 12 and 16 will be the puberty time. Your son will grow and may temporarily lose speed and coordination. His emotional state will also change a lot and will be unpredictable.

This is the time for love, understanding and patience.

When he comes out of puberty at around 17 or 18, then you will see whether he wants to go pro or not, depending how good he is.

Remember, he is a free person and needs to make his own choice.

Related posts:

My Daughter Is Nervous When Serving, Help!
Will My Child Make It In Tennis?
Tennis Footwork – The 5 Keys To Great Tennis
How Are Juniors Training Tennis In Europe And Why Are They Better Than Americans?
Should My Child Participate In Tennis Tournaments?

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 29th, 2007 at 10:32 am and is filed under Tennis Parents. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “How To Make My Son A Champion”
wild bill Says:
January 7th, 2008 at 9:55 am
i did not have custody of my sons when they were growing up but i would toss balls to them frequently. as they gained a little skill i would hit balls to them with both of us at half court. they had lessons from a very easy going pro. their mother got them both heavily involved in soccer at a young age so their lateral movements and quickness are unparalled. they did not play volleyball but that would have been great for developing their upper body strength and dexterity (serve).

i can tell you right now that your chidren will probably not turn out exactly as you would have hoped in every part of life but if you follow tomas’ plan you will have a chance. my boys did not turn out to be world class tennis players but they come to visit me often, remember my birthday, don’t hit me up for money unless they have a real emergency. we play doubles togeather frequently. this is reward enough for me

as hinted above the selection of a no pressure coach who has experience working with young children is paramount.

i wish you a lot of luck. watching a child grow and develop no matter what their interest is constitutes one af life’s greatest pleasures.

wild bill


Tomaz Says:
January 7th, 2008 at 10:14 am
Thanks for sharing wild bill.

Yes, having children who also love the game of tennis must be quite an experience…


saleem Says:
January 9th, 2008 at 5:29 am
I was a national champion of Karate when I was 17yrs. Now I am 46 and have a son (12) and daughter (9), both play tennis from a young age of 6/7. My ambition is to make them a good players in Tennis. I do let them play and enjoy, but some time I expect more from them. They love tennis and play as much as 2hrs week days and 3 hrs weekends with 1 hr of fitness every day. I really appreciate your opinion. But expecting something from your children does not mean making big money or being famous. I am doing my best to guide them at this stage but then it would be their choice when they reach 17.



Tomaz Says:
January 9th, 2008 at 12:19 pm
Hi Saleem,

Thanks for sharing your views. Yes, you can expect something else from your children rather than money and fame.

What is it?


Oscar Says:
January 25th, 2008 at 12:08 am
Tomaz, I do agree with you. I have a 5 years old son, he started playing tennis at the age of three hitting balls in the backyard.

The past six months he took some group lessons with a pro. Playing tennis was his choice. We offered him different sports and he chose tennis. One thing I do when we play together is make it fun and show great excitement (jumping up and down and high fives) every time he has a good hit. Usually that keeps my son interested and excited.

I always remind my son that trying is failing, just do your best no matter what. It is all good because it is only a game and you should always have fun when playing.


Bong Pata Says:
June 22nd, 2008 at 7:50 am
Dear Tomaz,

I have 2 children ages 15 ( boy ) & 8 (girl) who are playing tennis. My son started playing tennis when he was 8. I’m not aware how good Jr. tennis players are so i can’t compare him to them. But I assure you that he plays good for a 15 yrs old. I’m not speaking for my self, this is the same comments I’m getting from the others. My problem is lately, i’m having problems coaching him. He tends to take it in a wrong way, like an order from a father to son, whenever I am correcting something from his game, he’s somehow like revelling on the court. Pls. advice what is the best approach for him to listen. I’m trying my best not to upset him and not to loose my temper at the same time, because it affect his game and training, but most of time its not working. He was with a coach for almost 2 years, ( from 9 – 11 yrs old ) then after that started playing in clubs, right now he’s already playing with men and he’s getting good results. Is it adviceable for a father to be his son’s coach?

By the way, thanks for the your write ups and footage of poonky while training it helps me a lot training my daughter.


Tomaz Says:
June 22nd, 2008 at 9:17 am
Thanks for the kind words, Bong Pata.

Your boy is already in the puberty and that’s the period where children start becoming adults. It’s also the period where they feel they need more independence. So, yes, typically at this age the parent – child (coach – player) relationship doesn’t work well.

I would suggest you find him a full time coach and offer your advice here and there. Also, always think about this: would you coach your son and someone else’s son exactly the same? Would you say the same words? Would you demand the same?

Also – try to ask questions when coaching your son so that you show respect for his opinion. If you just tell him what to do, you are implicating that you are more and he is less…


Why Djokovic, Soderling And Berdych Can Beat Federer But Not Nadal

Why Djokovic, Soderling And Berdych Can Beat Federer But Not Nadal

Rafael Nadal has just won his first US Open and completed a career Grand Slam which is a remarkable achievement considering his age and that he is playing in the era of Roger Federer.

But there was a certain pattern occurring in the last 3 Grand Slams – Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open.

The player who beat Roger Federer in each tournament eventually faced Rafael Nadal in the final – and lost.

Robin Soderling beat Federer at Roland Garros with 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, reached the final and then lost to Rafael Nadal easily with 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Tomas Berdych beat Federer at Wimbledon 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 and then lost in 3 straight sets again to Nadal in the final with 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Novak Djokovic beat Federer for the first time at the US Open with 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 and again lost to Nadal with 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

What are the reasons that Soderling, Berdych and Djokovic are able to beat Federer in good form (not in the first round and playing best of five!) and yet they all lose relatively easily to Nadal in the final?

Note that Djokovic has beaten Nadal 7 times (out of 22 meetings), Soderling beat him 2 times (out of 7 meetings) and Berdych beat Nadal 3 times (out of 11 meetings) in the past.

So all three are perfectly capable of beating Nadal and yet they simply had no chance playing him this year in the finals of Grand Slams.

While there are theories that Nadal simply plays better tennis in the finals and that’s why he won, I disagree.

Here’s why I believe Soderling, Berdych and Djokovic were able to beat Federer but not Nadal:

1. Not caring about the outcome in the quarterfinals as much as they did in the final. This is #1 reason in my opinion.

All three were playing with abandon against Federer. They were going for their shots the whole match and played extremely aggressively.

They KNEW they had nothing to lose. Losing to Roger Federer is the QF of the Grand Slam is nothing to be ashamed of.

They were willing to miss shots in order to control the rallies. They knew the dangers of Federer’s forehand and how he can dismantle anyone’s game if he is given the chance.

But when they played Nadal in the final, they cared too much about the outcome. They were not only playing Nadal, but they were trying to win a Grand Slam.

Soderling and Berdych have never won one and Djokovic won only the Australian Open in 2008.

In other words, winning a Grand Slam is a dream come true for any tennis player and these three guys were simply not able to let go of that.

They cared too much and rarely DARED to play as aggressively as before because they did not dare to miss shots.

That was too scary for them – as missing shots in their mind meant moving away from the Grand Slam title.

Of course, they were wrong.

By not playing aggressively and pressuring Nadal, they didn’t pose any real threat to his game.

He was able to play relatively comfortable throughout all three matches and when it comes to controlled rallies from the baseline, he is simply better and more dangerous with his left handed forehand.

I also disagree with the idea that Nadal somehow forced them to play slower and not so aggressively. Sure, he can force the game with his forehand but he still plays many neutral shots with both groundstrokes.

And when these neutral shots flew over the net towards Soderling, Berdych or Djokovic, they played them much safer than they played neutral shots that Federer played over.

That in my opinion determined the outcome.

2. They were more afraid of Federer’s forehand than they were of Nadal’s forehand.

Although Nadal’s forehand is one of the baddest shots in the game, he doesn’t hit many winners from the baseline.

Nadal prefers to build a point in a much safer way and typically forces a mistake instead of hitting a clean winner.

That means that one has more chances to stay in the rally against Nadal than against Federer. When Federer attacks with his forehand, he hits the ball much flatter in therefore much faster.

He of course risks more but he also hits many more clean winners.

The main way to avoid forehand winners from Federer is to simply attack him all the time and not give him enough time to set up for his big forehand.

Juan Martin Del Potro executed that perfectly in the last year’s final and so did Soderling, Berdych and Djokovic in the last 3 matches against Federer.

But when they played Nadal, they felt that they are able to rally with less fear of clean winners from Nadal and therefore they lowered the speed of their shots in order to play more safe and more “smart” tactical tennis.

Sure, they made less unforced errors but they also allowed Nadal to take control of more rallies.

While he didn’t hit that many clean winners as Federer most likely would, he still was able to gain advantage in most rallies and eventually won more points than his opponents.

So how should have Soderling, Berdych and Djokovic played against Rafael Nadal in the last 3 Grand Slam finals?

They should have played with the exact same mindset and strategy as they used against Roger Federer: they should have played with the mindset that they have nothing to lose and they should have played extremely aggressively the whole match and kept Nadal in defense.

All of them have beaten Nadal in the past with that exact approach.

Your thoughts and opinions on this topic are of course much appreciated!

Related posts:

Rafael Nadal – Tomas Berdych Wimbledon 2010 Final Analysis
Learning From French Open Finalists: Nadal, Soderling, Schiavone And Stosur
Robin Soderling In His First French Open Final
Nadal – Federer Grand Slam Final #8 – And Win #6 For Rafa
Soderling And Cibulkova Breeze To Semi-Finals Of Roland Garros

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 2:02 pm and is filed under Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

29 Responses to “Why Djokovic, Soderling And Berdych Can Beat Federer But Not Nadal”
lindjon Says:
September 15th, 2010 at 3:48 pm
As always Tomaz, I find that your posts are the one place on the internet where someone actually articulates thoughts that are nagging me at the back of my mind. I hadn’t considered all three of the last slam finals at once, but now that you have brought my attention to it it amazes me that this narrative is completely absent from tennis analyses. I think you are completely right. I have been very disappointed with the respective efforts of Söderling, Berdych and Djokovic in the finals this year. Berdych in particular, I really felt he had the game to put Rafa in a lot of trouble.

Here’s a question for you though – do you think it’s the same way but in reverse for Murray? I am thinking of course about the AO 2010 final, where Murray was a lot more passive in the final against Federer than he was against Nadal in the semis. My feeling is that there is something about the matchup with Nadal which brings out Murray’s more aggressive tennis – similarly in Toronto. Whereas when he wins against Federer, it tends to have been more based on his super-conservative game.

Like I said, and have said many times in the past, I thoroughly enjoy your analyses Thomaz. Keep it up!

/Jonas, Sweden


reem Says:
September 15th, 2010 at 6:22 pm
Dare I disagree ?? Specifically with the case of the Djokovic/Federer & Djokovic/Nadal

From where I stand, the quality of tennis in the Djokovic/Nadal match was much higher than the semi: Djokovic hit 45 winners in 4 sets in that final opposed to 36 over 5 sets with federer .. in fact federer even had more winners in that match but also had soo much many UFE to negate them by a good margin ..

The Final was one of the most challenging matches .. a momentum swinging back and forth, not because one player is choking but because the other player is raising his level. And they maintained that crescendo of performance with each one stepping up to his next level beautifully up till the end of 3rd set. So by all means I do not believe djokovic gave up his aggression but it is simply too much to ask for s.o to keep firing winners both on serve and return all the time for 4 consecutive sets, which is what it needed to take out nadal on that final and following is why :

Let’s have a look at the Federer/Djokovic match : first set good quality up until djokovic ( choked ) away the set in a painful way in final game .. Next he is on his game again breaking federer , now how did federer respond , he went into his own lapse for the rest of the set .. Please take a moment and compare this to what Nadal did at the same situation, he fought upped his level broke back .. Djokovic took the set eventually by peeking to his best but on the cost of how much more effort as opposed to a set from the 2nd and 4th federer match ? .. there for me exists the key for difference between those 2 matches.

The significance of the Federer/Djokovic match is that it made Djokovic believe again .. he came in the final hit more winners and above all kept fighting fiercefully through out the whole match saving 20 break points with mostly winners from his side rather than nadal errors .. The Djokovic of the federer match broke down badly under the pressure of BP for the first 4 sets .. It was the fifth set that set him free and it was the Djokovic of that 5th set that showed up in the Nadal match.

So basically am thinking I just wanted to give both Djokovic and Nadal their due in playing a final .. more winners, less unforced error … each set going for one of them was taken by force , fight and simply EARNED not by any give aways …


Tomaz Reply:
September 16th, 2010 at 6:11 am

@reem: Here’s where Djokovic went wrong and what he did well against Federer:

1. When he started the match with Federer, he was playing with very high pace. The shots were very low and fast.

It was obvious (at least to me) that he had a plan – play the balls fast so that Federer cannot set up his big forehand. Keep him moving as much as possible and occasionally keep playing to his backhand side over and over again.

Djokovic kept the pace of his shots relatively constant throughout the match. While I don’t know the exact average speed of his shots, lets’ estimate that the speed of his groundstrokes ranged from 95-110 mph.

2. When Djokovic started the match against Nadal, he was FAR from being aggressive. He was very careful – he made only 12 winners compared to 17 in the first set against Federer. 5/17 = 0.29 – that’s a 30% difference!!!

I’d say the speed of his shots in the first set was on average at least 10 mph lower than against Federer. The shots were played with LOTS of topspin and high above the net – compared to Federer first set.

Now the problems came: Novak realized that this won’t work – as he just lost the set. Then he started to play VERY aggressively but because he hasn’t started the match in that mindset, he was now going for too much.

When the odds were in his favor, he went ahead 4:1, when they weren’t (because he was risking too much), he was losing and Nadal leveled to 5:5.

I’d say that the speed of the shots when Djokovic was aggressive was now 10 mph HIGHER than when he was going for shots against Federer. Of course, Novak realized that this is too risky and then dropped his speed of shots too low again.

So he was constantly trying to find the IDEAL speed of shots while ranging from too slow – maybe 85 mph to too fast – 120 mph. I am just making these numbers up because I don’t know them exactly, but my point is to show the range of speeds I noticed.

While Djoko was quite constant against Federer (95-100 mph), he was fluctuating against Nadal (85-120 mph).

Why? The whole problem of finding the right speed of shots started with his mindset – trying to be too smart, careful and trying to win points in a way that was too safe and too controlled.

“It’s a Grand Slam final after all, I am not going to make stupid unforced errors. This is my chance and I won’t blow it.”

That’s what Novak, Berdych and Soderling (and Murray against Federer in AU Open 2010 final) were all thinking when they started the match and that’s when they lost it – even before hitting the first ball.

It started from initial level of aggressiveness which was too low and they were playing too safe. Of course, they realized during their final that their approach was not working and then they OVERCOMPENSATED with playing too risky.

They are all fluctuating from playing too safe to playing too risky. And that’s not what they did when they played Federer in rounds before. (or what Murray did when he played Nadal at AU Open 2010)


Love the majors Says:
September 15th, 2010 at 11:52 pm
I agree with the analysis. Problem with winning a grandslam is that you have to 1st beat roger, or nadal then you have to try and beat the other in the final.

Soderling showed last year he’s capable of beating nadal in Paris but against roger in the final he choked. IF he played like he did against nadal he could’ve beaten roger in that final.

Djokovic said in an interview after beating roger in NY that he was going for it on Rogers serve because he he had nothing lose.

I think it’s harder to win a grandslam now more than ever because the reality shows us that you are going to face 1 of 2 opponents in the final, roger or raffa. An extraordinary feat to beat both players in the same tournament let alone beating 1 of them a grandslam final.


Vijay Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 5:14 am
As a reply to your 1st point, Soderling lost to Nadal in Quarterfinals in this year’s wimbledon! He has been in quarters in majors a few times, and losing to Nadal in quarters is nothing to be ashamed of, but still he lost !!


Paul Drayton Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 9:57 am
Once again Tomaz, you are spot on. You may be a tennis genius!

Watching Djokovic hit floaters down the middle of the court had me screaming at my laptop! It just boggled my mind that he didn’t go for his shots in the 3rd and 4th, until it was too late at the end of the 4th.

Thanks for the blog, as someone mentioned, the best there is. One of the only blogs I read about tennis.


steven Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 10:22 am
Facinating insight and i couldnt agree more. The opinion that Nadal is some how better than Federer i think is false, and in many ways your analysis shows this to me. I think this is almost a breakthrough, the fact this informatioin is out in the open now, and i hope that it finds its way through the universe to the top guys and finds its way into their game plan when they play nadal and make sure he doesnt beat Federes record haul of slams. It seems an injustice to me that federer, easily the GOAT, had his record of winning all 4 majors matched just a year later. And it took federer an extra season in order to do it. Tragic.


Tim Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 10:50 am
Hi Tomaz,

Thanks for the post. I think there is some truth in it. However, on the other hand, I think there are some other aspects of the game which are not mentioned correctly in your analysis.

I can’t say I am 100% sure, but I am fairly confident that Federer’s forehand, at least in the past year or two, is not quite as fast as Nadal’s. Nowadays Federer uses his placement and angle to pressure his opponent, and the pace almost always comes from taking the ball early inside the court. Note how few forehand winners he hits at the baseline. In fact, in the Federer/Djokovic semifinal match, I would say a big factor of Djokovic’s win comes from the fact that he can deal with Federer’s usual shots and forces federer to play with more risk.

On Nadal’s side, we should not overlook the spin comes from Nadal’s forehand. I would say it is actually a big reason why players tend to play a little bit safer against Nadal. His ball bounces differently and all other players have to be careful about it. In short, it may not be a psycological factor for them to play safe, but more like being forced to do so if they do not want to make to many errors.

As a last note, sorry for me to be picky, your number of the velocity of the ground stroke is quite off. Again I don’t know the exact numbers, but I am quite certain that through out the two matches, maybe even the entire tournament, Djokovic did not hit a ground stroke faster than 110 mph. I remember quite clearly that it is shown a winner from Federer’s forehand side is about 95 mph. The only 110 mph ground stroke I’ve seen shown is from De potro last year: that is a shot which just landed half a step from Federer’s position and he couldn’t hit it back. Gonzalez is well-known for his forehand and yet in the 2007 AO final several of his shot are shown and the velocity never exceeded 160 Kph which is just 100 mph.


reem Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 10:53 am
Dare I disagree again 🙂 ?

1- Djokovic had 6 winners in the first set against federer as opposed to 9 in the first set with Rafa (according to the usopen website match stats)

2- Regarding shot speed, I actually dont know & to be quite honest my knowledge about the technicality of the game doesnt allow me to reach that far.. but lets agree on them, You think he fluctuated and I think he was forced to, his level against Federer was simply not enough to earn him a set against Rafa .. let’s ve a closer look at federer match stats : to take second set Djokovic needed 5winners/4UFE and 8/8 to take the forth .. Now about about what he needed to take the set of Rafa ? it was 17 winner/7 UFE … more winners than what he needed combined to earn 2 sets against Roger .. That is too much of a level to ask from someone to keep for 3 consecutive sets and that is a level that difinitely needed a step up in his aggressiveness … In his hard fought 5th set against Roger, the one had us all jaw dropping in admiration he made 13/11 ratio … so yeah he was fluctuating because if he could maintain that level, it would be insanely terrific display .. Not to mention the mental strength and level of concentration that it takes to do so … that would make him end the match with 50 winner/20 UFE ..

To sum it up, I believe that Nole played a much better match against Rafa .. more winners .. more aggressiveness .. an insane number of saved break points indicating huge mental strength … it was just that the level it needed to take Rafa out was much higher than the one it took to take Roger out … Nole could afford a mental check out in the first and third set .. and he could afford a stat like 5 or 8 winners to take another 2 sets …. but 17/7 to take 1 set .. it just too good to keep up to on the course of 4 hours … too good


Tran Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 11:23 am
Two things I agree with you: First, Beating Federer is itself a prize, a challenge that every player risks everything to achieve with the mindset of all-or-nothing. That in many ways shows how dominant Federer was and still is to every player. Second, Nadal with his style of play can force errors, win matches, but can NEVER enjoy the longevity, artistry, domination and with them, admiration, of Federer’s tennis.

It’s just too sad abut how modern tennis is.


Arturo Hernandez Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 11:41 am
That is really interesting! It’s funny because everyone is talking about how Federer made a huge number of UE’s against Djokovic. But he understands that at the US Open he will win more often than not by being aggressive. In the long run it will pay off. It just happen to not work out in his favor that day. The problem everyone faces with Nadal is that he can be aggressive and safe at the same time. He is fit enough to outlast everyone. So his focus in simply on playing his game and making everyone else adapt. The few people who have beaten him this year have done it by playing super aggressive (Murray at AO, Roddick in Miami, and to some extent Lubjicic in IW). In fact, Roddick switched strategies in the middle of the match and beat Nadal. But then in the final he basically played a completely safe game to win the final against Berdych. There is still a place for the hyper aggressive SV player who would put extreme pressure on all the baseliners. It might not work but I really wonder if a modern incarnation of Rafter would find success at the US Open. The problem is that all these tall players are using a short man’s style. Imagine if Murray with his long reach came in on every single point. He might not win as many matches but I want to believe that his chances of winning a US Open would go up. The amazing thing about Nadal is that he knows exactly what he does well and what he does not. Then he just sticks with it. He is also willing to risk in the right way. He adds things to make himself better. I completely agree with your point. But I think the real problem is that the tall players are not getting to the net enough where their height and reach would be a big advantage. And I know that there are plenty of players who can volley even though they use a 2 handed backhand but it is less natural. The real question is whether Federer is willing to fill this niche and rediscover his 1999 game in order to win one or two more slams. Or maybe better yet. Will there ever be an aggressive player willing to attack the net as much as possible?


Arturo Hernandez Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 11:44 am
One more thing. This actually explains how Schiavone won the French Open. She played like she had nothing to lose whereas Stosur played in a very afraid state.


Sean Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 2:45 pm
I read your article and wanted to say that your reason of why those guys lose to Nadal is very accurate, however, i wanted to add one point that i see as a factor. It takes so much mental and physical energy out of those guys or anyone to get past Federer if and when they do that if it happens to be the semi or the quarters, they just cant have enough in the tank to go clash against Nadal. If you look at some of the recent pattern of play where Fed was the fist victim and Nadal waiting to play the guy that beat him, its been the exact same scenario repeated (Nadal playing a tired and worn out opponent who is content to just have made it to the final ex Berdych at Wimbledon). I also believe that the US open schedule of having the mens semis and finals on back to back days deprives the fans from witnessing a quality tennis match in the Final. First off, its not enough time for the players to recover and if the happen to be top seeds, its going to be a long 5 setter semifinal and the guys playing the second semi of the day have less time to recover. In my opinion, that is exactly why i saw Fed lose the Open last year to Del Potro. Sure Del, hit his forehands hard and flat, but the key reason is that Fed let him do that by feeding too many short “hit me ” balls. Fed was worn out after the Djokovic semis. This year by contreversial opinion, i believe that Fed knew that if he was not able to clean up Djokovic in straights or max 4 sets, he was not going to have enough in his legs to go 5 sets with Nadal so he clearly let Djokovic have the match. How does one (more importantly the King) lose 6-1, 6-2 in sets 2
and 4? Thanks for writing and your site. Would love to hear your opinion on my message.


Ronen Says:
September 16th, 2010 at 7:49 pm
Hi Thomas,

I find it hard to agree with you.

First, saying that “all three are perfectly capable of beating Nadal” to me is incorrect. According to your stats each player has only 30% success beating Nadal. So sure, it’s possible, but not perfectly capable, mostly when NOT taking into account other parameters around previous matches like the occasion and other conditions. This was a grand slam final, quite different than other occasions.

Regarding your main argument, even if we exclude the rest of the match there was a notable difference between the way Djokovic played in the 4th set (mostly after the early break) to the rest of the match. after the break in the 4th set it seemed like he was going for broke. Many people thought that after the break the game was over, he managed to stall a little bit by playing extremely aggressive tennis (more of have-nothing-to-lose tennis) .. but even then it didn’t help him.


Tunde Says:
September 17th, 2010 at 10:10 am
Federer and Nadal are great champion, different from the rest of the field. Playing aggressively or safely is like a sew-saw game . Being able to switch back and forth comfortably and maintaining a good rhythm is very difficult. This is what makes a player great and separates them from the rest. If Djokovic start the match aggressively he would still lose. Djokovic plays extremely good tennis which every tennis teacher hopes the student can emulate. That is not good enough to beat two great plays in a row. Djokovic was able to win a slam because he’s opponent was a good player, not a great one. It’s just unfortunate Djokovic fell in the era of this two great players. He might have to wait for them to retire or hope they get injured before he could win another slam. Being great does not mean they won’t lose matches. Two different players need to take them out differently. Like in AO, Tsonga took out Nadal, Djokovic took out Federer.


Rania Says:
September 17th, 2010 at 5:40 pm
I totally agree with your explaination although I believe that Federer’s aggressive game & many winners attempts plus being a little weaker on his backhand gives them more opportunities to win than playing Nadal who tries very hard not to lose any forced or unforced error .


Andy Says:
September 17th, 2010 at 9:31 pm
Good analysis,

But here’s another thought.

Federer was truly awesome and the only one with the mental toughness to really beat him in his prime was Nadal. Other players ,like Djokovic , had the physical skills but not the mental ones required. Now that Federer is down a notch or two physically, it requires less mental toughness to beat him so the Djokovics of the tennis world have a much better chance. Plus, once you lose your invincibility in any sport, you can never get it back. Even so, Djokovic always seemed like a mental midget to me. I mean Roger serves at 44% for the 1st set and Novak loses it, c’mon. And while Nadal’s shots are safer than Roger’s, it is still very tough for an opponent to be consistent against such overwhelming spin, defense, speed, and conditioning.

At this point I would say Roger is the Greatest of All Time due to what he has accomplished overall, and Nadal is the greatest at any single point in time. The thing that really amazes me about Nadal is that he was basically a clay court specialist who completely transformed himself into the creme de la creme on every surface. That is the definintion of mental toughness.

But what the hell do I know. I’ve been playing 10+ years and I’m stuck at 3.5


Rikyu Sen Says:
September 17th, 2010 at 10:28 pm
Since you’re a tennis coach, let me ask you this question: Have you ever seen a player comeback so successfully from so many foot/knee injuries as Nadal has? I find it nothing short of miraculous that he can hustle around the court as hard and as fast as he does every match given his long history of injuries.

He has not gone a full year without injury since 2003:

Rising tennis star Rafael Nadal of Spain broke his left foot and will miss the French Open, Wimbledon and the Athens Olympics.

Late 2005/Early 2006
Foot injury delays Rafael Nadal’s comeback

Nadal plays down foot injury fear

Knee injury forces Nadal to retire in Paris

“I have been playing with pain on my knees for some months now and I simply can’t go on like this.”

2010: Part 1
Nadal retires with a right-knee injury against Murray at the Aussie Open

2010: Part 2
Nadal announces knee treatments to follow Wimbledon


Tomaz Reply:
September 18th, 2010 at 1:36 am

Hi Rikyu Sen,

Thanks for compiling this cool list of resources where we can learn about Nadal’s injuries. Yes, he keeps coming back although keep in mind, that every pro is injured here and there.

The fact that Federer has been injured so few times – and played at this level – is simply incredible.


Eduardo Says:
September 18th, 2010 at 7:06 am
I think that any analysis must be based on facts and not on hunches or impressions.
Djokovic made 47 unforced errors against Nadal in only 4 sets while he made 38 against Federer in 5 sets. You would expect less unforced errors when someone is playing more carefully. These stats contradict your theory, Tomaz, but there is more.
Winners: 36 against Federer in 5 sets and 45 against Nadal in only 4 sets. Against your theory again, I am afraid, because if I try to play carefully against anybody surely my figures will show less errors but also less winners.
If we must get to a conclusion from these data only we should conclude that playing more carefully got him to beat Federer and playing too aggresively with Nadal got him to lose. What we cannot conclude in any way is that Djokovic played more conservatively against Nadal, so your analysis is false.
Your analyisis might be also wanting respect to the lack of aggresiveness of Nadal compared to Federer. Federer had 48 winners in 5 sets while Nadal had 49 in only 4. Sorry.


Tomaz Reply:
September 18th, 2010 at 9:13 am


My analysis is based on what I saw. And what I CLEARLY saw in the first set of Djokovic-Nadal were controlled, top spin shots flying through the air MUCH SLOWER than when Djokovic played in the first set (and most of the match) against Federer.

Get a tape of both matches and compare the speeds. It’s like night and day.

After that first set against Nadal, Djokovic realized what was going wrong as tried to be too much aggressive – but then he slipped back to controlled rallying. NONE of that happened when he played against Federer.

Again, my point is how Djokovic STARTED both matches and NOT how he played every single point. The whole problem for him in the final started from the lack of aggression and to careful play. He didn’t want to blow his chance – which is totally wrong thinking.

After that, he couldn’t find the ideal pace. He found it immediately when playing against Federer because he knew from the first ball that he needs to attack.

And if you don’t LOOK at the speed of the shots in both first sets, then we cannot debate here. Statistics don’t tell the whole truth. There are lies, damn lies and statistics. 😉


Rikyu Sen Says:
September 18th, 2010 at 7:53 pm
It may be true that all players have injuries, but Nadal really seems to be an aberration. He has retired from matches or tournaments (after already having played a match) numerous times throughout his career. A normal player that exhibited this frequency of injuries, I would think, would lose mobility over time, but Nadal just keeps coming back faster and stronger than ever.


Nadal retires or withdraws mid-tournament:

Australian Open
retired – knee

Paris – Masters

Cincinnati – Masters





St. Jean de Luz challenger


AtaStrumf Says:
September 19th, 2010 at 11:59 am
I agree with Ronen. Djoko went for broke in the 4th set. I think he was happy enough to get that one set off Nadal, given the fact that Nadal only lost 2 games in the entire tournament up to that point. You could also see his father was sitting down, not getting too excited either way, unlike against Federer in the semis.

Djoko could have won that forth set and given himself a chance if he tried, but he didn’t. I was very disappointed to see that, given his mammoth effort against Federer. But he’s only human after all and I’d say he was mentally too drained to go 5 sets again, especially with the rain delays and all that.

All in all I was very impressed by the level of tennis of the top three guys and they thoroughly deserve to be there. Too bad Del Potro was absent this year, but word has it he should be back soon enough.


Arturo Hernandez Says:
September 20th, 2010 at 5:19 pm
Actually, I wonder if it is getting to a final that is the real issue. Soderling lost to Fed at RG just one year earlier in the final. Roddick who attacked in the semi-final also became conservative in the Key Biscayne final. I think you are right but had those players met Federer in a final my guess is that they would have lost more often than not. The interesting question is whether Nadal and Federer simply play finals without changing anything. Hence, we have the Fed Nadal Wimbledon finals which were all great. Neither was willing to back down but eventually one just managed to outlast the other. But you never got the feeling that either of them felt doomed to lose. Both fought until the last point.


Kelly Says:
September 21st, 2010 at 12:36 pm
I agree that Djokovic looked much more aggressive against Federer. However, I have a different explanation. 4 reasons. 1. Nadal’s “neutral shots have an aggressive topspin ball with high bounce that is very difficult to turn into offense, while Federers neutral (non-winners) come closer to the pros strike zone, allowing them to go on offense 2. I really believe the other
players have studied Federers game for years as “the one to beat” more so
than Nadal 3. Nadal has the left-handed factor that is difficult to play and/or
practice against. He is basically “both-handed” and hits winners with his
backhand when he was in a defensive position, pushed off the court. 4.
I think Nadal is in better physical shape than Federer at this point and has
more hunger to win and youth on his side.


Rikyu Sen Says:
September 21st, 2010 at 5:09 pm
Odd that Nadal’s official website would post a Nalbandian quote mentioning doping rumors, no?

David Nalbandian
Whatever he does, is pure energy. He’s tremendous, just tremendous. The energy that he has to play a Grand Slam final is the same energy that he puts into playing Playstation, into eating a plate of pasta, into going for a walk, into talking about cars [formula 1] or football. He’s tremendous. To me, he’s a totally gifted person.

Rafa doesn’t sleep. I swear to you that Rafa doesn’t sleep. He’s up till 2 am either on the Playstation or doing physio work. The other day, he was up at 9am, played 18 holes (golf), then come back and trained, then played soccer in the evening. He’s tremendous. I could probably try to follow [his rhythm] for 1, maybe 2 days, then I will be tired in bed, but this guy keeps going, every day, the same.

People used to say ‘with Rafa, it’s doping, surely…’ It was frequently debated. And people would ask me, and I’d say, ‘you think that because you don’t know him. You spend some time with the guy and you realize that he’s like [the energizer bunny] 24 hours a day.’


Julian Says:
September 25th, 2010 at 12:11 pm
Hi Eduardo: more unforced errors aren’t necessarily a sign of having played more aggressively. In fact In my experience as a player this is not true at all. Careful playing will very likely contribute more to unforced errors and to also become the recipient of more winners from a competent opponent. This may not be as evident at the club (although I’d debate that too) but it’s particularly true at the pro level… A confident, relaxed player, hits more powerfully, accurately and freely. When his mind is at ease, his body is tensionless (the player will take advantage of this state and play more aggressive tennis) which he knows will greatly help increase his possibility of winning.

No professional player would ever make a conscious choice to play carefully (less aggressively) if he could help it… If and when they do it’s mostly because of what i’d denominate as the main culprit : a non-ideal mental/emotional state that translates into unwanted/extra tension. Which interferes with hitting as relaxed and freely as they would like to. Although not a professional (but a very diligent student of the game) It is clear to me that the degree of aggressiveness in tennis is directly proportional to the player’s ability to achieve a relaxed state by diffusing muscle tension.

Again and in conclusion, I’m not one who believes the statistics tell the whole and real story… More UE do not necessarily mean the player played more aggressively. I’m actually one who believes it could very well be exactly the opposite. An aggressive player is playing in a more relaxed state and (IMHO) his chances of playing winning tennis automatically increases. Although I’ll admit I haven’t checked I’d say statistics should ultimately show that at the ATP level… Uhmm to be fair I’ll see to it that I look into that. You can take that to the bank friends !!! 😉


drew Says:
November 3rd, 2010 at 1:51 pm
Oops — all good stuff , but Feds was hurt! That’s your answer. He has been dealing with his back for a couple of years now and getting older isnt helping. And he’s not doping at the moment to fix it like a lot of players do. He never fakes MTO’s also like a lot of players like to do. In fact he rarely complains and calls time outs even when HE IS INJURED! In other words, he wasnt in trouble the first week at at wimbledon because his opponent is serving lights out and his return game istn good enough on grass to combat it so he starts feigning injuries.

Feds finally complained about his back after Berdych at wimbledon and everyone went berserk! What a poor champion! Big complainer making excuses. Again , I reapeat … he doesnt fake injuriy or MTO – LIKE OTHER WELL KNOWN PLAYER(S), He went to the hospital for an MRI on the back right after he left wimbledon. He had a great USopen culminating in a great victory over Soderling on a cold windy summer night (I know I was there). And sure enough the back was tight for his next match and got worse as the match progressed. Many first serves were long (sign of tight back) and the fh was uncharacteristically off. But this time you will get no complaints – you dont have to tell this player twice – why incur the same wrath of the fans. And once again he was off for an MRI right after the US Open

What happened in the final was Djoko was tired – pure and simple. That’s why all the lack of groundstroke power and errors the last two sets. Had they played sunday he would never have even won a set.

As for Nadal – there’s a alot that can be said – some good , some bad, some legal, some illegal. Ill just note one attribute of Nadal and leave the rest out. He’s a fighter – whether appreciated or not, whether legal or not – he’s an absolute out and out fighter and he and his Uncle are obssessed with him becoming the greatest ever and will do anything to achieve this. So when it gets to crunch time Nadal will grind, fight, scratch and claw his way to victory whether they are playing on a hardcourt wood surface or Cow Dung in India. That’s the difference between he and Federer


ric Says:
November 19th, 2010 at 12:45 pm
Did Nadal win because:

1. He did not care about the outcome in the final?

2. He was less afraid of his opponent’s than they were of him?


How To Improve Your Motivation For Playing Tennis

How To Improve Your Motivation For Playing Tennis

I am looking for some tips on how to make someone excited and motivated about practice again once they start to lose it or already lost it?

I know sometimes it is needed to have some break. But beside that, what else can be done to motivate someone again?

Create more matches? Find new challenges, new players to play against, new drills, or maybe even new coaches?

Before we look for ways to improve motivation, we first need to think about whether the reason for losing motivation is because now is the time to do something else.

Perhaps you will start a new career, perhaps you realized that tennis is not really what you like and it took you a really long time to figure this out.

Maybe it’s time to move on and experience new things in life.

I played volleyball for 16 years and after I quit and hardly ever played.

I don’t hate volleyball or something like that, I just feel I’ve experienced so much of it that I am wasting my life playing volleyball when I could be learning how to speak Thai or help young tennis players with their mental game.

So I have no motivation for playing volleyball and it’s a good thing.

Another situation where losing motivation is a good thing is when the player doesn’t really appreciate playing tennis and all that comes with it.

Andre Agassi lost motivation in 1997 and plummeted down to #142 in ATP rankings. And that was the best thing that happened to him.

He realized how he was wasting his talent, how he loves tennis and competition and started his comeback. Andre Agassi won French Open in 1999 and completed a career Grand Slam.

But if you sincerely believe that you want to help someone become more motivated then let’s first see what the main reason for losing motivation is.

It’s a lack of belief.

If you don’t believe you can do it (whatever you want to do), you won’t put the maximum effort.

And because you won’t put 100% effort it’s very unlikely that you will get closer to your goal.

And when you won’t get closer to your goal this further demotivates you and the circle of failure and loss motivation deepens more and more.

Why does the player lose [tag]belief[/tag] in success? Why does the player lose belief in herself?

There are many smaller parts to this but three major ones are:

1. Setting goals that are unrealistic (or not having goals at all!)
2. Having goals that don’t excite you (or give enough in return to what you will invest)
3. Having a deep belief about yourself that you are not good enough or not worthy

Let’s talk about setting goals first…

If you come to practice tennis with me and I tell you, that we’ll train you to become top 20 in the world, you wouldn’t believe you can do it.

If you are old enough of course and have realistic views of life and tennis. Kids don’t have this experience so they could actually believe me for a few years.

But when they would fail to reach the first round of WTA or ATP main draw for 10 years, they wouldn’t believe this story anymore.

So the key to [tag]setting goals[/tag] that motivate you is set them just out of your reach. You MUST believe that you can reach them otherwise you won’t put the needed effort to get there.

Instead of thinking to become top 20 in the world, try to become top 20 in your city. Or maybe top 20 under 14 if that’s your age group.

And then when you reach that goal, set a new one.

Very powerful motivators are also ego (pride, attention, being popular, being the best, winning tournaments, being interviewed on TV and so on) and money.

Money could at first be seen just as the number but money is just paper. You are not after the money (most of the times, unless you want to brag with the numbers – ego again), it’s what money allows you to experience.

So finding these motivational “buttons” with each person and using them at the right time is the key to their motivation.

The second reason for lack of motivation is that these goals are not exciting enough, in other words, they don’t give you back enough compared to what you invested. (time, energy, money)

The third reason for lack of motivation is a deeper feeling of not being good enough or not being worthy (not being capable, intelligent enough, fast enough, skilled enough, …) which typically originates from childhood.

I don’t know any quick ways of dealing with that.

What works is questioning these old beliefs and finding successes in your life that prove these beliefs false.

You need to be aware and find when you were capable enough, smart enough, fast enough, … and prove to yourself that your deeper belief about not being good enough is not true.

That way it will lose power over you. This takes time and commitment but your freedom is worth it.

Here are two additional resources about motivation if you wish to explore this subject more:

The Science of Motivation

Motivation at Wikipedia

Related posts:

Can Roger Federer Bounce Back? Does He Even Want To?
How To Make My Son A Champion
Will My Child Make It In Tennis?
Pressure To Keep Winning Matches
Is Losing The Desire To Win Tennis Matches Bad?

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 24th, 2007 at 12:03 am and is filed under Mental Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “How To Improve Your Motivation For Playing Tennis”
Erika Says:
June 25th, 2007 at 9:32 am
Thank you for your response to my question about how to improve motivation in practice. I found your comments very useful, however I think I need to be more specific in order to get a more specific answer.
The 10 year-old kid that I know is very much aware of how good he is, he loves tennis, and he knows what it takes. He had never ever had problems at practice before, and he has always loved matches and tournaments, even now. However I have noticed a change in his motivation at practice about 2 months ago. He is still doing what he is told to do, but that unique fire that was so special about him is missing. Again, itis only on the private lessons. Therefore he is not playing as well, but at the tournaments he still seems to do as good as he did before.
I know that it will not go like that for long unless he can have his attitude, and fire back on practice. And this brings me back to my question? What can cause this lack of fire? And what can be done to get it back?


Tomaz Says:
June 26th, 2007 at 1:20 am
What can cause this lack of fire? In other words, why did he lose motivation?

Here are some possible causes:

– losing belief in himself
– getting bored with same drills and same opponents
– not improving (at least noticeably for him)
– having personal / emotional issues with his parents
– losing just one match to lower ranked player (children can be totally unrealistic)
– being overtrained – everywhere just tennis, tennis, tennis and no place for being a child and having fun with other activities
– being pushed too much my coach or parents

And more of course.

When you come up with a good reason (you can also ask him), you will know how to approach the problem.

Every cause listed above has a different approach and is typically quite obvious – just do the opposite.



Katarina does it again

Katarina does it again

Katarina Srebotnik reached yet another final of the French Open, this time in women’s doubles! Unfortunately she and her partner Ai Sugiyama lost against Alicia Molik and Mara Santangelo 6-7, 4-6.

Nevertheless Katarina and Ai had some great wins along the way: against Raymond and Stosur in semifinals 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, against Camerin and Dulko in quarterfinals 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 and others before that.

This must have been a huge confidence boost for Katarina and I hope she can win another Grand Slam doubles title in the future.

Katarina has 3 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles: Roland Garros 1999 with Norwal, US Open 2003 with B. Bryan and Roland Garros again in 2006 with Zimonjic.


Roger Federer On The Verge Of Another Record

Roger Federer On The Verge Of Another Record

Roger Federer has tied John MnEnroe’s record streak of 11 consecutive straight-sets win in Grand Slams.

He won 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4 against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia and has reached quarter finals of the French Open.

Roger’s straight sets wins started in the Australian Open where he won his 10th Grand Slam title.

But he is really not interested in records:

“But it is something which is quite special, I would say. It is true that during this period, I could have lost some sets. I had some service points and all of a sudden, there is a streak.

But I’m focused on Roland Garros and I want to win my matches. And if I can win in three sets, I mean, so much the better. But I’m not looking for these types of records.”

Here are Roger’s wins from Australian Open until today:

Australian Open 2007
Phau, Bjorn (GER) 7-5 6-0 6-4
Bjorkman, Jonas (SWE) 6-2 6-3 6-2
Youzhny, Mikhail (RUS) 6-3 6-3 7-6(5)
Djokovic, Novak (SRB) 6-2 7-5 6-3
Robredo, Tommy (ESP) 6-3 7-6(2) 7-5
Roddick, Andy (USA) 6-4 6-0 6-2
Gonzalez, Fernando (CHI) 7-6(2) 6-4 6-4
French Open 2007
Russell, Michael (USA) 6-4 6-2 6-4
Ascione, Thierry (FRA) 6-1 6-2 7-6(8)
Starace, Potito (ITA) 6-2 6-3 6-0
Youzhny, Mikhail (RUS) 7-6(3) 6-4 6-4
Related posts:

Katarina does it again
Federer Vs. Sampras Grand Slam Comparison – Who Had a Tougher Job?
5 Reasons Why Nadal Beat Federer in the Wimbledon 2008 Final
Roger Federer Enters History Books
What You Can Learn From Dinara Safina’s Loss

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 3rd, 2007 at 11:01 pm and is filed under French Open, Roger Federer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Roger Federer On The Verge Of Another Record” Says:
June 4th, 2007 at 10:13 pm
Roger Federer On The Verge Of Another Record…

Roger Federer has tied John MnEnroe’s record streak of 11 consecutive straight-sets win in Grand Slams. He won 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4 against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia and has reached quarter finals of the French Open….