Not Tennis Anymore, It’s Officially Battle of Minds - Djokovic & Nadal


Just a year back, Nadal was at the top of the world recording easy wins over his opponents. It seemed that nothing can go wrong and was being thought of as the top contender to surpass Federer's record of 16 GS.

And all of a sudden, a wave free of Gluten hit him and knocked him down from his World No. 1 ranking as well as Wimbledon & US Open Crown.

After being called as the best,you lose to a person whom you have defeated 12 times and he rips you apart clueless 6 times in a row, ! Imagine yourself - Best worker year in and year out –Suddenly your co-worker (2 places down since 3-4 years) comes and takes away the crown not once-6 times! No matter how hard you try, you are not able to surpass him/her at work-place.

Result- You are bound to feel demotivated ,loss of self-belief in yourself no matter how many times close ones tell you to remember you are the best! At least I will! Will coming second or beating other colleagues even matter?

Nadal who was the best all of a sudden lost 6 finals in a row in 2011 against Nole! The main reason, I feel, is the loss of self-belief, and the mind wanting to reverse his results against Djokovic! When he lost once or twice to Djokovic last year, he thought he would be able to bounce back! He believed he was the best- that’s why he defeated everyone in French Open. He thought he can defeat Djokovic but now after 6 times, his confidence has been finally shaken and his mind can see a repetition of trend!  He has really started to doubt his game! And that’s why, although he is still the same, his mind has one thought-Will he be able to defeat Djokovic ever?

What I am trying readers to understand is the psychology of a human mind! Nadal is no different. He is also human. No matter as fans of Nadal, we would want him to win thinking why has he all of a sudden started to play so vulnerably, is his game over? My answer- No, simply because- he is still amongst the best. It’s just that he is trying to find a solution to defeat Djokovic. And once he does that, he will return to normal!

We can look at Federer, after 2008 he has not been the same old Federer we were so used to see! Why? Because he still hasn’t been able to find a convincing answer to Nadal! And the trend has reversed for Nadal- with Djokovic posing a mental battle to his mind! I believe that till the time, he finds an answer to Djokovic, no matter where and against whom his wins are- he won’t be the same Nadal we have known since 2006.


It’s a step by step process: A father took his boy (who was very good at mountain climbing) to the biggest mountain in the country and told him to climb that! He tried to climb, he failed. Tried it for multiple times, and still the same result. So the father after seeing this told the boy- you have been the best since last 5 years, stop thinking this is the biggest mountain- break it down into small goals and think you can do it! And when your mind poses doubt or fear, just think of me and moments when you have climbed mountains like this! And the boy thus climbed the mountain.

1) Shut out his mind about the past and stop thinking about Djokovic as the unstoppable machine:When Nadal played in Wimbledon/US Open- the thoughts of losing to Djokovic were present in his mind! And he admitted the thoughts had an effect on him! This time when he plays Djokovic, he will have to take the match game by game. Look at Federer in the SF 2 days back, when he was a set and break up, he crumbled and gave away the match. Especially at the crucial points, Nadal will have to shut out his mind.

2) Find out someone to look upto at crucial points:I know it’s difficult to shut out your mind- it is bound to go back. In those moments, he will have to find or think of someone ( & certainly his family can help showing positive signs and believing in him) whom he can look up to and give him the strength and belief that he can win during the game. The outbursts of his father and family during Wimbledon could have made anyone nervous!

We all have one such person in our lives- Whenever I am in toughest of situations- I think about 1993- Wimbledon Finals (Steffi Graf against Jana Novotna 1-4 down 30-40 in the third set and how she managed to win Wimbledon) & instantly my fears vanish -be it my exams, interviews or anything! My mind is instilled with a belief and confidence! Only if at 5-4, In Wimbledon Final, Nadal could have not committed those 2 unforced errors! And no guesses why those two happened at crucial points!

And Nadal himself said last year - He didn’t suffer that much, the reason why it’s a bit tough on him.For Nadal fans: In words of Helen Keller:

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

So Nadal right now is in phase 1 of suffering and if we go by words of great Helen Keller, he is bound to rebound back and achieve success!


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