Tennis tips: Fight for EVERY ball, your opponent is not a superhero, momentum and circumstances can change

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Coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of instructional Enjoy Tennis Blog, will explain why it is important to adopt the mentality of never surrendering in a tennis match and giving it all in absolutely every point. Marcin is currently looking for new career opportunities, so if you are interested in cooperation, you can contact him via his personal website.

In basketball, players play four quarters and then the match ends; in soccer, players compete during two halves and, if it is not the cup match, the game is over; in tennis, there is also a restriction, but it has to do with the score and not with time. This format puts a lot of pressure on players, because winning one set and leading in the second are no guarantee for the win at all, but it also makes tennis matches so interesting, as players can change the momentum and win “lost” matches.

Simona Halep sending a kiss to the sky after saving a match point against Ons Jabeur to reach Dubai quarterfinals. Three matches later, Halep became the Dubai champion.

There are no lost matches until the last ball is lost — player who win even while not playing their best tennis have this attitude, they never give up. Unlike them, many juniors start to doubt themselves while facing underperformance or while playing against opponents who don’t make any mistakes — they opt for more risky shots, their body language becomes negative and finally they don’t believe that anything can change.

Individual sports have one thing in common: they put a lot of mental pressure on competitors. Most of the time tennis players don’t lose to their opponents – they lose to themselves. They are stressed, they are angry, they start to doubt themselves. As history of big tournaments shows, players who resist temptation to give up find a way to not only win a single match but also to win a tennis tournament.

Reasons to fight for every ball

1. Your performance

There are times when we play really well and times when we play below our expectations. Starting the match by a series of winners doesn’t guarantee that this level of performance will remain over the course of the whole match. The same is true for mistakes — if you make ten mistakes in a row, it doesn’t mean that you will make additional ten in the next two minutes. Fighting for every ball gives you an opportunity to not only prolong the match, but also to start playing better and increase your chances of winning the battle.

Ons Jabeur Dubai
Tearful Ons Jabeur after wasting a match point against Simona Halep in the second round of Dubai 2020.

2. Your opponent’s performance

Every tennis match involves two players. Both players have impact on the score, so while trailing, it is important to keep in mind that your opponent is not a superhero. The longer the match, the bigger the chance that good performance of your opponent will start to deteriorate. At the same time, when you try to adjust your game to the current situation, you will see how your decisions impact your rival’s quality. Fighting for every ball not only gives you an opportunity to improve your level, but also to test how skilled your opponent is at maintaining a high level of play.

3. Unexpected factors

Over the course of the match many things can happen that will create a challenge for both players. Rain makes courts slower and balls heavier, so completely different shots are needed to dominate. Physical tiredness can change a great player into an intermediate one. Injury can force an athlete to retire even when the score is positive. These and others situations can happen in every match, so that is why making the match as long as possible while losing should be a priority. Fight for every ball and you will see that with time a lot of factors will change.

A tennis match is a constant physical and mental battle both with ourselves and with our opponents. If we train that fighting spirit, we can be sure that it will be visible on the court.

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