Tennis Week – Apr 20, 2004 – Douglas Robson – How can a player be so up and down? What makes one’s mental resources fray so that he nose-dives from the Top 20 to the 200s? And what is the magic that brings him back?

There’s no cookie-cutter answer, according to Dr. John Murray, a sports psychologist and author of “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game.” “A lot of it is mental,” says the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Murray, who worked with Spadea for more than a year full-time after his plunge. “Every individual is unique and every person tics completely differently. Sometimes it’s burnout, staleness or a psychological problem.” Other times, it’s simply losing ground physically to one’s peers, he says…

Spadea rejects the idea that he was depressed, clinically or otherwise. He says he never saw a traditional psychologist nor took any brain-altering medication. But he was certainly in a major funk.

Still, the post-epiphany moment was when he finally “hit the panic button” and began making phone calls. One of his first was to Pete Fischer, the Southern California doctor who helped shape Pete Sampras” game. Spadea, who has worked with Fischer on-and-off for the past couple of years, credits Fischer for bringing a fresh look to his game.

He also started working with sports psychologist Murray. Their relationship continued for more than a year full-time, Spadea says, and focused on getting to the heart of how is motivation “died out.”

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