How Dominic Thiem Beat Federer and Nadal

Learn to be Mentally Tough to Beat Top Seeds

Have you ever faced an opponent with an impressive win-loss record or a player that was decorated with awards and accolades or a player who topped the rankings for an extensive period of time?

What was your mindset playing against that type of player? Were you in awe of their accomplishments? Were you still able to focus on your game or were you overwhelmed by competing against a player who is highly accomplished?

Sometimes when a tennis player competes against another player who had a very successful career, it can feel as if you are playing against two opponents, the player you are facing and their accomplishments.

It is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what your opponent has accomplished instead of what you bring to the game. Focusing on your opponent’s accomplishments can leave you feeling intimidated.

In matches such as these, tennis players have the mindset of hanging in as long as possible. Instead of going on the offense, these tennis players are hoping they don’t suffer the huge embarrassment due to a blowout.

Not only does 25-year-old Dominic Thiem know what it is like to play against elite, accomplished opponents, he understands the key to success is to be focused solely on his game.

Thiem earned the No. 5 ranking after beating tennis legend Roger Federer, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, in the 2019 Indian Wells Masters in March.

Thiem followed up that performance by beating another legend, Rafael Nadal in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, in their semifinal matchup at the 2019 Barcelona Open, an event that Thiem went on to win against Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-0.

Prior to Thiem facing Nadal, Nadal had a record of 46-1 and won the event 11 times in his career.

Thiem talked about the potential difficulty facing the tennis elite such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

THIEM: “It’s tough against Roger, Rafa, Novak, and some other guys, because you have to beat not only the player but somehow also the great aura they all have, all these titles they have won. So you have to play somehow double good to beat them.”

Thiem overcame the mystique of playing against those highly-decorated players by having a better mental game. After beating Federer, Thiem credited his mental game, more specifically his ability to focus on his game and stay positive, as the key to victory.

THIEM: “Mentally, it was a really good week, because I stayed focused in all the matches… I was staying positive most of the time, and that’s what I have to keep up now.”

Playing against top tennis players is challenging enough. It is important that you don’t add to the challenge by allowing yourself to be in awe, instead focus on your talents.

Playing Focused Tennis Against Top Opponents:

Instead of focusing on awards, ranking and accolades of your opponents, keep in mind your successes and strengths.

When you step on the court, you have to look at your opponent as another person who is fallible. Anything can happen in tennis when you don’t play in awe of your opponent.

What’s the most important information you need to know about your opponent: ranking or weaknesses? The only thing that’s relevant is your strategy against that opponent.

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