Florida Tennis Magazine – May, 2009 Issue – By John F Murray, Ph.D. – Smart Tennis Sports Psychology Workshop in London June 19 and 20 – Sponsored by The Bulldog Club (the finest bed and breakfast in hand picked private homes around London) and the Sutton Tennis Academy (the best tennis academy in England), Dr. John F. Murray will conduct his 8th year of sports psychology workshops on the weekend before Wimbledon in London. Tennis players and coaches of all levels are encouraged to attend on one of two days, June 19 or 20, where they will receive a full power-point presentation on mental skills, training and exercises in classroom and on court, a relaxation/imagery session, an individual mental skills evaluation, a personally signed copy of the top selling tennis psychology book “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game,â€? and a full year of follow-up mental coaching support with Dr. Murray by email. If you will be anywhere near the UK on the weekend before Wimbledon, you will not want to miss this exciting annual event. Celebrities and touring pros often attend. To book your place, please contact Dr. Murray at 561-596-9898 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2009 Sony Ericsson Open once again lived up to its billing as the 5th best tournament of the year, and there were two surprise champions. Fans feasted on their usual blend of superb entertainment, tropical sunshine, and South Florida style. There is no better place in the world in March!
This month we examine some of the mental highs and lows as we stroll through the draws of the winners. Andy Murray, who’s been training extensively in South Florida, took the men’s title, cruising in from the #4 seed. The thrilling Brit only two weeks before had lost a heartbreaker in the finals of Indian Wells to Rafael Nadal. He won 11 of 12 matches in an unbelievable run! I enjoyed emailing back and forth with Andy’s mother and top British tennis coach, Judy Murray, who endorses my sports psychology workshops in London every year. Andy would rise to the top here with unheard of ball control and rapidly maturing mental skills. Over in the ladies side, 11th seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus surprised the world by shocking #2 seed Serena Williams in the finals after other top seeds Safina, Jankovic, and Dementieva fell by the wayside. I’m going to have to pull out my Russian dictionary to write this article! Now let’s now examine some of the mental skills on display.
Andy Murray received a bye in the first round before coming back to knock off Juan Monaco of Argentina 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round. He played erratically in the first set, but pulled from solid resilience in hanging in there, improving the quality of his play, and closing it out when he had to. In the third round, Murray bounced back again after starting 0-3 to Massu of Chile. The resilient control artist clawed and clawed back, and was also helped by an extremely rare four double faults in a row served up by the Chilean. In the fourth round, Murray had little trouble dispatching an angry 6’4’ Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-1, 6-0. Troicki cursed repeatedly in his native language and lost total composure, only hastening his annihilation. Next up was the mighty 7th seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain who had beaten Murray at the Australian Open earlier this year. With an eye for an eye on his mind, Murray refused to allow his confidence to dip from past results. He quickly destroyed the Spaniard 6-1, 6-2 whose body language was atrocious throughout the match. This set up a grudge semi-final match between Murray and 5th seed Juan Martin Del Potro, as both players had claimed gamesmanship in past matches. Murray focused much better on the battlefield and survived a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 thriller. Del Potro later explained it away that he was tired after his match with Nadal. While this may be true, it’s never a good idea to make justifications and excuses after, as this rarely promotes future mental toughness. In the finals, Murray equaled fellow UK national Tim Henman’s 11 titles by rolling over Djokovic 6-2, 7-5. Amazing fitness and finesse were the order of the day as Murray played to start, then refused to be discouraged after down a break in the second. I emailed Judy Murray to send her and her son a big congrats and she replied to me that “we Murray’s need to stick together.â€? While everyone is saying that Andy can be the next Wimbledon champion, I have a warning. I know he can do it, but don’t fall for the hype Andy. You don’t need that kind of pressure. Just keep playing great tennis and your career will take care of itself!
Nineteen year old Victoria Azarenka is one of the hottest stars on the tour with all 3 of her career titles coming this year (Brisbane, Memphis, and now Key Biscayne). After watching her play, I believe she might dominate tennis soon. She had a temper problem early in her career and is starting to gain greater mastery over her feelings. She sure did this week. Despite her success this year, many would not know who she is in a lineup, but that is changing fast. After a first round bye she eased past the Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-2, showing great poise and patience in some very tough points. She dispatched another Russian, Anna Chakvetadze 6-1, 6-4 in the third round, and again kept her cool in tight spots. The waltz continued in the fourth and fifth rounds as she mopped up Hungary’s Agnes Szavay 6-2, 6-4, and Australia’s Samantha Stosur, 6-1, 6-0. Her powerful two handed backhand combined with a positive energy and aggressive play often gave her first strike advantage over her foes. Onto the semi-finals where she would face the higher ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova. It would be “the biggest win of my career’ said the teenager after her victory. The match lingered 2 hours and 40 minutes in the sweltering heat, but Azareka controlled her nerves and emotions to win the big points and force a final with Serena Williams. Could she win yet another title this year by defeating one of the most successful players in history? Fresh legs would carry the day as Williams was hurting with both a sprained ankle and sore thigh muscle, and the rising champion on the women’s tour prevailed 6-3, 6-1.