Miami Open, USA
It’s never easy to serve out a match in the best of circumstances. Even if you are expected to win, you still feel a slight twinge of nerves as you step up to the service line to close it out. It becomes more difficult to do so if you are the lower ranked player or if you have been struggling with a dip in your confidence. The doubts that you have worked so hard to suppress suddenly blossom in your mind and you struggle with them as you attempt to make contact with the ball. Your feet and arms feel as heavy as lead and moving them feels almost impossible.
Today was not a good day for Americans McHale and Fritz. After a dominant start last night (6-0, 3-2), McHale lost her way in the sunshine. Twice she served for the match in the second set only to stumble and let Muguruza back into the match. The nerves were apparent in the lack of movement of her feet and also her shots began to land shorter in the court giving Muguruza many opportunities to hit them for winners. Muguruza was able to control her nerves much better today and she fought her way back to a 0-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 victory. A heartbreaking loss for Christina McHale.
Even more heartbreaking and unexpected was the collapse of Taylor Fritz. He broke twice in the third set and led his opponent 5-2; yet, somehow with his biggest weapon being his serve, he could not serve it out. Twice he stepped to the line to serve for the match and like McHale he could not close the door on his opponent. I did not expect this. One of the things I have admired about Fritz, although he is still quite young, is his “nerves of steel”; however, today he did not handle the pressure well and Kohlschreiber came back to win 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(4). A very painful learning experience for the teenager.
I know how badly the body can react when you feel nervous, everything shuts down. Your mind loses focus, your muscles cramp up, you may even have difficulty breathing, which is an absolute necessity for oxygenation. All of this results in the player being unable to execute his or her shots effectively.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio