I had a great, relaxing day off and felt ready to compete after playing two matches to qualify on Tuesday. I got off to a strong start in my first round main draw match against Travis Rettenmaier, making him work for his opening service game. It turned out to be a very interesting first set. It was the type of tennis I play for. He was coming to the net at every opportunity with his great backhand slice approach, and I was doing the same. It was a little bit of old school tennis, the tennis I like to play. Chip and charge, serve and volley, every point seemed to be ending with one of us at the net, sometimes both of us. It was not the monotonous baseline grinding that you see everywhere in today’s game.
After a few games I felt like I was holding serve fairly easily and getting a lot of looks at his service games. Finally at 5-5 I put together a few penetrating returns and got the break to go up 6-5. We switched sides and with two big first serves I was up 30-0. The rest unfortunately is a bit of a blur…
I lost my concentration for a second, I started playing a little tentative, and before I knew it was sitting down at the change of ends down 7-6, having lost my serve and lost the tiebreaker 7-5. The second set was more of the same, maybe worse, and I went down 6-2.
What happened is difficult to put into words. Although I was semi-conscious of it while it was happening, I was powerless to stop it. At 6-5 I felt as if I completely lost my focus and my game went with it. All of a sudden I was playing reactionary tennis as opposed to the aggressive, dominating style I had played all set long.
Having sat down and thought about it all after the match, the only thing I can put it down to is a lack of matches. In the big moments I didn’t feel as if I had the inner confidence to stay aggressive and as a result I got a little tentative. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a catch-22 situation, as you can’t get the confidence and the belief unless you perform and prove your ability to yourself in a match situation. Therefore I just need to keep plugging away, and the next time I’m presented with a tight situation, or rather, a big opportunity, I need to trust my strokes and just go for it!
So it turned out being another learning day for me, and that’s ok. I feel as if I’m hitting the ball great. I just need to tweak a few little things in my game, many of them mental and most of them relating to my attitude and approach. I’m close to the tipping point, I just need to keep on going.
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