Roger Federer demoralized Novak Djokovic at the Cincinnati Masters Tournament recently winning easily 6-1, 7-5.
“It looks convincing, 6-1, 7-5, but a few points here or there, your focus is not right on break point, maybe you are the better man, but you end up losing because you lost focus on the biggest points,” Federer said. “That’s why you’ve always got to push yourself.”
No matter what the score is, maintaining your focus is important to your performance. Some players lose points or games because they lose focus for just a game or two. Federer was down 0-3 in the second after winning the first easily. He lost his mental edge for just one moment. He coasted on his talent. He forgot to focus to the max. Was he distracted? No. I think he let up for just a moment and found himself down 0-3.
But it’s easy for many players to get distracted and lose focus. When you start focusing on the wrong things, your performance suffers. You might make more unforced errors and not execute or lose sight of your game plan. Critical points might cause you to lose focus too. When you’re down break point or serving for the match, you might be thinking, ‘What happens if I lose this game?’ This can lead to more tension, trying to avoid errors or expectations about how you should perform.
How can one of the best players in the world – or the best in the world – admit to losing his focus in the finals? Simple. He’s human. You’re human. You can’t be perfect with your concentration all the time. A let down in intensity can lead to a drop in focus. Winning the first set big can lead to a small let up in your game.
Other factors can affect your mental focus as well. When you’re fatigued, you might struggle to focus during the point. When this happens, you might play a couple of loose points, become frustrated and have a hard time bouncing back from your mistakes. Federer says to “push yourself” when you’re losing focus.
It’s nearly impossible to stay focused for the whole 2-3 hours of a match. When you’re fatigued, think of focusing hard for a few seconds (a single point or 3 shots) and then relax your focus. Use your time in between points and on the changeovers to relax your focus and regroup.
Your tennis psychology tip for today is keep the momentum and intensity on your side. They are your friends when it comes to focus. Don’t allow an easy first set to lull you to sleep in the second. Keep the “petal to the medal” and manage your intensity during the match.