Emotional control

012015 Angelique KerberFamily Circle Cup, Charleston

Women’s Final: [CR16] Angelique Kerber (GER) vs. [CR20] Madison Keys (USA)

In a match where Keys had the advantage of power, Kerber had to play smarter tennis if she wanted the victory.  Keys can quickly overpower her opponents, causing them to be discouraged by the ferocity of her shots; however, Kerber has beaten Keys before and knows that if she weathers the barrage, she will eventually get opportunities to break.  Kerber won the first set fairly easily.  Would Keys fight back?  Keys controlled her unforced errors and took the second set.  It appeared that Keys had gotten the momentum fully on her side in the third set after she broke Kerber. Would Keys hold on to win?

The mental aspect of the game is so important, it is worth repeating. Keys was very agitated from the beginning of the match, while Kerber was extremely calm.  The difference in their emotional state would become relevant as the match progressed.  Despite taking the lead with punishing shots, Keys was struggling to control the tension within and hold her serve. Kerber on the other hand, calmly stayed focused and trusted in her ability to neutralize Key’s power. The abrupt unraveling of Keys was not surprising, her frustration began to mount after she was broken to lose the advantage.  Showing her mental toughness by refusing to concede defeat despite the ferocious attacking play of Keys, Kerber broke again to win 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

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