Lessons from Australian Open 2015: Do You Believe You Will Succeed?
With my beloved Denver Broncos not in the Super Bowl, as well as my childhood team the Dallas Cowboys, I have turned my attention to other sports. Actually, I look forward to watching the Australian Open – as well as the other tennis Grand Slams – every year.
As usual, no US men got past the 4th round at the Australian Open (4 years in a row now). If you share in my frustration with this development, you might like my blog post titled Big Serve, Big Forehand – Big Vacation! The US women provided a stark contrast at this year’s Australian Open with the Williams Sisters and a couple of Madisons making it deep into the tournament. In fact, Serena will be going for her 19th Slam in the Finals.
In tennis, there is no help on the horizon. You have no teammates to pick up your slack in singles, and professional tennis is one of the few sports that does NOT allow coaching. It is just you…your opponent…a stadium full of fans…and a few million television viewers.
No pressure, right? Every one of your double-faults and unforced errors served live and in HD! And if you really start out on fire, and have a monumental collapse, then you can be immortalized by having your epic loss shown during rain delays for DECADES (just ask Aaron Krickstein).
Professionals like the Williams Sisters, Maria Sharapova and the men’s “big 4″ of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray thrive on the big stage. Other professionals, due to inexperience, lack of top-flight skills, or LACK OF BELIEF, collapse under the pressure. Here are just a few examples from this Australian Open:
- 123rd ranked Denis Kudla has three match points against 12th seed Feliciano Lopez - loses the match
- 96th ranked Nicole Gibbs has a couple service games to take it to a 3rd set against 28th seed Elina Svitolina - loses in straight sets
- Kevin Anderson only drops 5 points on serve in the 1st set against Nadal, fails to convert 5 break points against Nadal, then goes on to lose his serve in the next game. You could FEEL the inevitability during the match.
All four had success “on their racquet”, and all four failed to complete the victory. Did they wake up from a dream and start to doubt their ability to succeed? In stark contrast to these collapses…
- Maria Sharapova battles back from two match points, and two breaks in the third set, to win in 3 sets against a qualifier.
- Serena Williams weathers the storm to win in 3 sets against two different opponents (and one was blowing her off the court before Serena took charge).
- Seattle Seahawks came back from 16 points down, with improbable plays, to win the NFC Championship (OK, just because the Broncos/Cowboys lost doesn’t mean I went into a Football Hibernation just yet). C’mon, really – they convert on a fake field goal, a 2-point conversion, AND an onside kick in the same game?!?
What separates these victors from the vanquished?
- They are proven winners – they are champions – they fundamentally BELIEVE that they have the skills, the practice hours, and the work ethic to create their own luck and EARN the victory. Arnold Palmer once said, “It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get.” And a Roman Stoic philosopher, Seneca, stated “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
- When they get a bad bounce, they do not think “oh, the Fates are against me.” They clench their fists, grit their teeth, maybe let out a primal scream (yep, I’ve done that on occasion), and they get back down to the business of focusing on fundamentals to achieve their goals.
- When they lose a point and the momentum, as the ball hits the net and dribbles over to their side of the court, they do not think “oh, here we go again.”
Do YOU Believe You Will Succeed…or are you quick to say “oh, here we go again?”
What examples do you have where it seemed inevitable that someone was going to have an epic collapse…or a rousing, come-from-behind victory? Didn’t you wish you could hit the pause button and help those individuals/teams out with a little pep talk?
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Photo by Francisco Carbajal via Flickr and shared per Creative Commons