Lessons from Rafa and Maria…

 

Tennis friends… I was reading this info with great interest. Please check it out. The first story is about Rafa Nadal and his thoughts on his current lack of confidence crisis.  The second story is about Maria Sharapova and her getting bounced in the first round of the Miami Open. I have highlighted in red, the parts I think we can learn from and my commentary in blue ink after that.

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1) In Miami, Nadal Was Going Through A Confidence Crisis

With his beloved clay court season soon to begin, Rafael Nadal admitted he is going through a crisis of confidence that could have a serious effect on his ability to win a tenth French Open title.

Aside from winning the title in Buenos Aires against moderate opposition, the former world no.1’s results have been far below his normal standard so far this year and the 28 year-old admitted his anxiety as it was brought starkly into focus by his Miami Open defeat against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. (even the pros get nervous)

Nadal was not prepared to cover up his current issues as he admitted: “It’s not the question of tennis, it’s the question of being relaxed enough to play well on court,” he said after the 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 defeat by Verdasco who lost 13 times in succession to the long time world no.1 until finally turning the tables in their previous match in Madrid nearly two years ago. (after 13 straight losses by Verdasco, anyone can beat anyone on a given day)

Talking of the loss yesterday to Verdasco when he converted only three of 12 break-point chances and committed 40 unforced errors, with just 18 winners, he said: “I was anxious on court. I wanted to be there. I tried in every point, but I was not able to relax myself, calm myself.”(Yes, Rafa was not able to relax himself)

According to Nadal he hit an all-time low point after the Australian Open when he lost in the quarterfinal to Tomas Berdych and continued: “Today my game in general improved since a month and a half ago. But at the same time, I’m still playing with too many nerves for a lot of moments, in important moments. (Your game can feel fine and be improving, but your mental skills can sabotage you)

“I have been able to control my emotions during 90%, 95% of my matches of my career. . . But I’m going to fix it,” he said. “I don’t know if it’ll be in one week, in six months, or in one year, but I’m going to do it.” (Here Rafa talks about being certain that he will be able to fix it, he has no doubt that he will get it fixed and play better)

Nadal was insistent this would not be in collaboration with a sports psychologist but said: “I need the help of my team, but especially I need the help of myself. That’s what I am trying to do. Nobody’s going to change the situation for you.”

Nadal revealed he wanted to be in a stronger frame of mind for the start of the clay court season and perhaps that might still be the case with his first tournament, the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters not starting for another two weeks.

However Nadal’s defeat was his earliest in Miami since 2006 and was sufficient to guarantee he will drop below Andy Murray when the new world rankings are released a week from today. By virtue of dropping more than 550 ranking points, he is also in danger of being overtaken by Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic.

“At this point in my career, I’ve won enough things to say I don’t need to win more, but I want to do it,” said Nadal. “I want to keep competing well. I want to keep having the feeling that I can be competing for every tournament I’m going to play, and I have the motivation to do it. Obviously clay is [a] surface that I’ve had some success, and I hope to be ready for it again.”
 

2) Sharapova Admits Surprise In Losing Her First Match In Miami This Year

Maria Sharapova admitted she was taken by surprise as 97th ranked qualifier Daria Gavrilova subjected her to her earliest and most humiliating exit from the Miami Open since she first contested the event as 15 year-old newcomer back in 2003.

Although she was given a first round bye, it was Sharapova’s first defeat in an initial match at the tournament, which she has never won but reached the final five times.

“Well, it’s sport, and I happened to lose the match,” maintained the 27 year-old second seed. (great perspective, if you play sports you will have bad days, it is not always the start of a new slump)

“ Of course it’s a bit of a surprise.  It’s my first round and I’m expected to win. But it’s one of the reasons why we play the matches; you still have to go out and win it no matter if you’re the favorite. Today I didn’t.” (Sometimes even the favorite losses)

A near capacity crowd seemed predominantly behind the 21 year-old Russian Gavrilova who now calls Melbourne home and is waiting to receive Australian citizenship. But after falling to her 7-6 , 6-3 defeat Sharapova maintained: “When people cheer for an opponent, I don’t necessarily think that they are cheering against you. And someone that’s also playing really well, I think that always gets the crowd going.” (Make sure we realize that not every loud fan that cheers against you is your new personal enemy)

Sharapova admitted she previously knew next to nothing about her 21 year-old assailant but former world junior no.1 Gavrilova, who once trained at the French academy owned and run by Patrick Mouratoglou, said: “I have been dreaming about beating Maria since I was probably 12, when I saw her win Wimbledon. She was my idol. She was just huge in Russia.”

Please share this with anyone that you think might benefit from this kind of perspective from two of the world’s most dominant players.