How Fernandez Focuses in Matches

How to Focus on Your Game

How many times have you heard the phrase, “Focus on your game”? Do you have problems focusing on your game during the critical or challenging moments in a tennis match?

Focusing well on court is not always a simple task but becomes easier with daily practice. In our Mental Game of Tennis Survey, one player sent the following question:

“How can I play my best tennis and remain confident when I play higher-ranked opponents?

This may seem primarily like a confidence issue, but if you dig deeper, you will see that focus is the underlying issue at play.

To straightforward answer your question, you remain confident against highly ranked opponents by focusing on your strengths, abilities, and match strategy.

When you focus on your opponent’s ranking or record, you will see yourself as less talented. You will view your opponent’s serve as unhittable. You will notice how your opponent returns “everything” you hit.

You will give your opponent more credit than they deserve and see them as unbeatable. You will be nervous and slow to react. Instead of looking for your chances or opportunities to score, you will play cautiously and be hesitant.

Even a few mistakes on your part will create thoughts such as, “I knew I would probably lose” or “I’m just not that good to compete at this level.” When you focus on your opponent’s strengths, you lessen the belief in yourself and your abilities. 

At the 2021 U.S. Open, unseeded 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez upsetting U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the third round.

Fernandez showed no signs of fear or being intimidated by playing a highly-ranked opponent. Instead, Fernandez played confident tennis and often dictated the tempo during the match.

FERNANDEZ: “From the very beginning, right before the match, I knew I was able to win.”

Fernandez could have been distracted by the whirlwind surrounding Osaka, one of the best players in tennis and former WTA No. 1. Instead, she stayed focused on her game and played to her strengths even after Osaka launched a ball high into the stands and received a code-of-conduct warning in a moment of frustration.

FERNANDEZ: “I wasn’t really focused on Naomi. I was only focused on myself, my game, what I needed to do. Having the crowd there supporting me and backing me up after every point, it’s amazing. It gave me the energy to keep fighting, to keep working and keep running for those balls that she hit.”

When you keep the focus on your game, you become energized and confident leading to your best tennis.

Focus on Your Game

To keep your confidence high, you should ask yourself the following questions:

What do I need to do to play my best in this match? How will I use my strengths to keep fighting for every point?

What mindset will I take into tough matches?

What will be my primary focus when I play challenging matches?

Think about your game plan for your opponent that uses your strengths and exploits the opponent’s weaknesses. Be flexible and able to adjust then it’s not going your way.

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