Berdych Choked The Match Away

2015 Stan WawrinkaABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, The Netherlands

Men’s Final: [CR7] Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. [CR8] Stan Wawrinka (SUI)

Berdych won the first set not because he played exceptional tennis, but because Wawrinka played poorly. However, given the opportunity to build on that lead, Berdych was unable to combat the nerves and will himself to the finish line.  Serving to even the second set at 4-4, Berdych’s game unraveled, he “choked”, no doubt fueled by the knowledge that he had not beaten Wawrinka since 2013 and was not quite convinced that he could accomplish that feat today. He lost the second set 6-3 and essentially lost the match.

It was palpable, the panic he was feeling as he saw the match rapidly slipping away after losing his first service game of the third set.  No longer denying the inevitable, his belief disappeared and the careless errors mounted. We have seen this before, players have choked at the prospect of winning.  No doubt the intensity of the emotions they are feeling completely rattles their brain and confuses their mind and they lose their ability to play effective tennis.  Wawrinka was happy to continue to attack without mercy as Berdych regressed to a tentative defensive mode.  Although he tried to fight the doubts and broke back in the third, the damage was done and Wawrinka won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

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