Mindset for Playing Tennis Against Rivals

Do you play your best tennis against your rivals?

Some tennis players thrive on the thrill of facing their rivals. The challenge ignites a fire within them, and they become a force to be reckoned with on the court.

These players play with fierce determination, fighting for every point. They strike a delicate balance between nervous anticipation and a calm, collected demeanor.

Their mindset becomes a powerful tool, elevating their game to new heights. 

Conversely, some players become anxious when they compete against their rivals. Despite knowing they have similar abilities to their opponent, they have an overwhelming fear they will lose.

They worry so much that their energy is depleted. They are sluggish on the court and tire early in the match

 Instead of being in attack mode, they allow their opponent to dictate the pace of the match and adopt a defensive style of play. Their negative mindset gives their opponent a mental edge throughout the match.

Your mindset has a profound impact on your thoughts and focus. When you are worried about losing, your thoughts and focus are scattered: “What if I lose my serve? My opponent is crushing the returns. No matter where I hit the ball, my opponent chases the ball down with ease. If I lose this game, I won’t be able to come back. My opponent is so much better than me.” 

As a result, you focus on playing carefully and trying not to lose points. 

When you focus on competing for each point, you think about how to win points. You feel free to take chances and are focused on hitting winners. 

The contrast between the two mindsets is stark: a positive mindset lifts your game, while a negative mindset holds you back. 

Take, for example, the rivalry between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Carlos Alcaraz. Tsitsipas and Alcaraz are strikingly similar. 

Before the 2024 French Open, both players were ranked in the top ten, won the same number of titles during the season, and had similar won-loss records. 

However, their mindsets are dissimilar when they play against each other. In their six head-to-head matches, Tsitsipas has lost all six. The latest came in the French Open quarter-finals when Alcaraz beat Tsitsipas in straight sets.

After the match, Tsitsipas admitted there is a “mental barrier” when he plays Alcaraz.

TSITSIPAS: “There was some voodoo stuff going on today on the court. I wasn’t able to just get the ball where I wanted. It’s really unbelievable. I tend to believe that my ball quality is one of the best on the tour, and every time I get to play Carlos, I feel like he delivers a shot quality that I don’t quite get against other opponents. It just brings me trouble… I just haven’t been able to come up with something good. He, in a way, overpowers me… I just need to get through that mental barrier.”

When you play with fear and worry, you give an edge to your rival. When you focus on your opponent’s strengths, you make them more formidable. 

The key to playing your best against rival competition is to prioritize your strengths and have a “one-point-at-a-time” mentality. 

Craft a positive mindset by asking yourself, “How can I gain an advantage in this match? What elements of my game can I utilize to gain an edge? What will I focus on to stay mentally tough throughout the match? 

Think about how your will execute your tactics against any player.

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Improve Your Mental Game for Tennis

Tennis Confidence 2.0

Tennis Confidence 2.0

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