Pro Tennis Psychology: Tsonga’s Success


Jo-Wilfred Tsonga pulled off a huge upset in the Paris Masters Tennis Tournament last week. Tsonga defeated David Nadlbandian 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the finals. Tsonga cruised through three higher seeded players: Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Novak Djokovic to put him in the final.

As a sports psychologist for tennis players, I know the power of your mind game. Tsonga used positive self-talk to help him keep his energy up and defeat James Blake in straight sets in the semis.

“I just kept telling myself ‘I am not tired.’ This is the best performance of my career here at this tournament. I just hope I can pull off another great match tomorrow.”
~ Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

You can find many excuses to give up during a match when you feel too tired or are behind in sets. Tsonga did not allow his body to quit. He used positive self-talk (and good fitness) to push through exhaustion. With sports psychology for tennis, your internal chatter during matches can make or break the outcome. Tsonga’s inner chatter powered him through the physical exhaustion.

He refused to let his body control his mental attitude in the final. “I was hurting everywhere but I told myself that I had to give it all as I had the chance to play this Masters Series,” said Tsonga.

Tennis strategy combined with mental toughness is a powerful combination for good players. Tsonga was prepared to play smart tennis in the final match:

“At the end of the match I felt a lot better. I played exactly like I had to. I didn’t do extraordinary things. Like in Australia I played volleys that were coming from nowhere, whereas today I played just right. I believe this is the way you win. It’s not when you do lucky shots that you win. It’s when you think about your shots.”
~Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Do you have a game plan or strategy for every point in the match? Tsonga executed his strategy just as planned to win the final. Tsonga didn’t get careless with his shots. He had a game plan to play smart shots and not throw away points by going for winners.

Pro tennis psychology lesson – we can all learn a lot from the top players when they use their minds to play well. Your tennis mind can either help or hurt you! Your mind game is your secret weapon when you body is struggling to keep up. Have a game plan, trust your skills, and use self-talk to help you win matches.