Dimitrov’s Psychosomatic Collapse

TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open, Turkey

Men’s Final: [29] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. [87] Diego Schwartzman (ARG)


If you ever doubt how much tennis means to some players, watch this match.  Dimitrov-once ranked as high as number eight and touted to be the next Roger Federer- has found the pressure of expectation too much.  He has fallen out of the top ten.  He has had some inexplicable losses and has not won a title since 2014 despite being in a winning position on two occasions.

Both players were fighting their own internal battles.  Schwartzman was fighting the anxiety that comes from trying to win his first career title.  Dimitrov was fighting a more ominous foe, self-doubt.  How did he get to this stage?  When you are talented, you and the world expect great things.  Some players thrive under that type of pressure, while others are overwhelmed.  It starts off as a little thing and balloons into a fear of failure which ultimate impacts your success if left unchecked.

When desire impedes your progress and makes you too anxious to perform, perhaps it’s time for the intervention of a sports therapist.  When you get so anxious you cannot think clearly or execute your shots and you lose matches from a winning position, something is wrong.  When you get too tense to move freely, you can also injury yourself.  Dimitrov was so anxious his muscles began to cramp at 5-5 in the second set.  Not only was he battling a persistent opponent, he was battling his internal demons and now the physical manifestation of his anxiety.  Dimitrov came undone completely and smashed several racquets to pieces and purposefully defaulted on match point.  Schwartzman who was calm and focused the entire match won 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-0 to claim his first ATP singles title.

FYI: Dimitrov served for the match at 5-3.

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