Yesterday, Roger Federer and Gael Monfils faced off in an epic quarterfinal US Open Match. Gael Montfils played 4 phenomenal sets and found himself the owner of two match points! That's right, he had two match pouts against THE Roger Federer, and was poised to achieve his best result ever, the semi finals of the US Open. Then, as you probably well know, the two match points evaporated and Federer stormed back and won the fifth and decisive set, 6-2. I must admit that I'm not a fan of Roger Federer. However, there is a key lesson to be learned from Federer's performance. Federer was down two match points, and rather than cautiously plopping the ball over the net or double faulting, Federer attempted and made his shots lethal. This action takes an immeasurable amount of courage and chutzpah. When we find ourselves on our last leg in a match, here are some mantras to tell ourselves :
> -Continue with your gameplan regardless of the score.
> -Think of every point as the first point of the match.
> -Use every point as an opportunity to use and improve your best shots.
> Unless playing safely is your regular "go to" tactic, don't play prudently just because of the score. The score alone doesn't change the strategy, it's still you, and it's still the same opponent. Don't plan on beating yourself up if you end up losing the match. Thinking of the negative consequences will only inhibit you from playing your strongest strategy. Federer had prize money and ranking points at stake, not to mention sponsors, factors way more significant than any of us will face as a result of our play and he still continued to play according to plan. Instead, tell yourself that you will be stronger by maintaining your strategy. Plan on rewarding yourself if you implement the selected strategy throughout the match. Remember previous success that you have experienced. One difference between Federer and Monfils is Federer's memory bank. Federer has experienced tremendous success and has an immeasurable faith in himself. Think of all of the matches in which you have successfully waged a comeback, and tell yourself that if you have managed a comeback on a prior occasion, you can repeat that feat. Try to visualize what you did to make a comeback and focus on repeating the same actions. Try to visualize what players like Federer did when in a tenuous position in a match, and think about replicating their bravery.
> That's not to say you should never re-strategize mid-match, if you notice a particular strength or weakness in your opponent. You should always be open to new tactics, but not to making changes to your game due to self doubts.
The message: Go forth and be brave.
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