Lost a set when I was up 5-1

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by NickH87, May 25, 2009.

  1. NickH87

    NickH87 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    This had to be the absolutely worst breakdown I have ever had in any sport in my entire life. I felt myself slipping and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

    So for all of my service games, I was on fire, high % of 1st serves with a couple of aces. Return games were solid, up 5-1 with my opponent serving.

    I had ad-out at least 5 times and couldnt put him away, it was then when I thought about how close I was to winning where it turned around. My serve went to complete crap, first serves were long, 2nd serves were short, shanking them, I lost focus and I couldnt get myself out of the funk. Game by game, my anger and frustration kept building up. Eventually I had to let it out and I am really surprised that my racquet didnt break because I gave it a good slam. I lost the set on a double fault to make it worse. I was verdasco'd by myself, grabbed my towel put it over my head, cursed alot but quietly, kicked the fence, and left it all on the court, drove home and enjoyed the rest of the night.

    Has anyone else had as bad a let down as me, any tips on how to break out when it happens again?

    I even tried to positive thought stuff, but it didnt work lol.
     
    #1
  2. autumn_leaf

    autumn_leaf Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    1,928
    Location:
    Taunton, MA
    there's the problem. you thought about closing it out.

    i was playing a singles match and it was a pro set (first to 8 win by 2). i was up 6-3 and then starting choking. out of no where it was 6-6. i ended up winning that won but it was close.

    i wasn't that lucky in other situations where i was only playing a set in a ladder match and was always up 3-1 or 3-0 and then end up losing.

    really i shouldn't ever think about the score. just play like usual and i probably would have done fine.
     
    #2
  3. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Messages:
    12,331
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Happens to me all the time, it's called choking.

    Will let you know when I figure out the answer.

    I was up 5-0 in a big tournament, and lost 7 straight games.

    Lots of times I will be up 5-1 or 5-2, lose until I get to 5-5, win the next game, lose the next game, and end up in a breaker.

    J
     
    #3
  4. Nanshiki

    Nanshiki Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Messages:
    2,285
    If you don't have the confidence to close out a set, I'd try switching to counter-punch (or even push) mode and letting your opponent put the set away for you...

    Just get the ball back in that case. Hitting a 100 MPH forehand won't help you if the guy manages to barely chop it back short and you promptly blast it into the net.

    Keep in mind that this only works on a player who's roughly as good as you are... don't expect to beat someone much better this way.
     
    #4
  5. NickH87

    NickH87 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    Yes I choked, I was not clutch enough to put it away lol. I guess I kind of pressured myself because so far I have only won one match this season, best of 3 sets and lost 5 now, so I guess I thought too much about it and it destroyed me.
     
    #5
  6. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Messages:
    3,773
    I have lost so many sets when up 5-2 (a single break) - I don't care to count the number of times.
     
    #6
  7. Jim A

    Jim A Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    816
    It seems that people often change a winning game or go for the big shot when up a break or 2 late in the set. If I find myself getting tight I start aiming for the baseline, which normally gets it to the service line and I play patiently but don't expect my opponent to self-destruct.

    If I decide to let myself go for something I use it as a carrot, ie. get to 30-0 and then you can go for the big one down the T

    It happens to everyone, oftentimes you have to weather their storm (Wounded Bear) and keep making the shots that get you there in the first place...
     
    #7
  8. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,541
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    I was in a match last year, where this junior with quite a big game, had me down immediately 4-0. I was just trying to steady the ship if you will, and play cleanly. I assumed he would beat me easily.

    This kid managed to lose 12 straight games to lose the match 4-6, 0-6. By the second set first break, he was mentally toast. The funny thing is, if he could have kept his head on, I thought he would easily beat me. Once he figured out it was going to be a 'real' match, he got so tight he couldn't keep the ball in play.

    My last tournament, I choked away two consecutive sets - couldn't keep the ball in play to save my life. Just have to laugh it off, and move on sometimes. It definately happens.
     
    #8
  9. Grampy

    Grampy Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Messages:
    102
    I try to avoid thinking about anything further than one point away. The next point is really all that matters at any given time, right? There is a lot of down time in tennis and your mind can wander on to bad bad things if you let it, like thinking about holding up the trophy before the match is over, or thinking the set is over before it is. It really shouldn't matter what the game score is, even if it is 5-1. The set isn't over until its 6-1, right?

    I also will try to clear my mind after points which is no easy task. Sometimes I resort to reading the labels on my racquet over and over, or going OCD on my strings constantly straightening them. Anything to keep myself from thinking about things that may or may not happen in the future.

    Here is a picture into my mind after a point. "Ok, my next serve will be up the T. Now, lets see, my racket weighs 12 oz, and its 16x19 pattern. It says Wilson on it and its spelled W-I-L-S-O-N. My strings are all pushed to the center, {straightens} there thats better. " I know that sounds like I'm nuts, but most I play with think I'm a mental giant, :)
     
    #9
  10. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,110
    Location:
    St. John, USVI
    This is an interesting thread. In high school my team was in the sectional championship and I was playing #1 singles and up 6-0, 3-0 (playing great) and as can sometimes happen when a match is too one-sided, I took my foot of the pedal just a little bit, my opponent won a game, and all the sudden the match was looking completely different. I was sick (though this isn't an excuse) and might have started to tire a little bit but anyways...

    I went down 5-4, fought off two set points (I remember remaining calm and knowing that I was a better player than the other guy) and finished it out 7-5 (our team won the title). It just goes to show it's never over until the ball had bounced twice on match point.
     
    #10
  11. NickH87

    NickH87 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    I just signed up for a local tennis league, this will get me playing consistent 2.0-3.0 level players so I can work on my game rather than just keep playing the same person over and over again. $50 for the summer with a tournament at the end...should be fun.
     
    #11
  12. Jim A

    Jim A Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    816
    that's a great way to improve, and you have to be willing to lose matches at 3.0 to get to 3.5
     
    #12
  13. NickH87

    NickH87 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    Yup, the thing is that I dont like losing, but I dont have a problem losing if I am straight up outplayed. I just get very frustrated and angry when I cause myself to lose, like when I start double faulting, losing my mechanics and what not.
     
    #13
  14. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2008
    Messages:
    3,614
    try reverse the score it your head thats what i do. I play my best tennis when im losing was 40-0 down on my serve (5-1) brought it back and won the match saved about 8 match points
     
    #14
  15. NickH87

    NickH87 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    Well today I played a 3 set match.

    Lost 1st set 6-2
    Wont 2nd set 6-4
    I was down in the 3rd set 4-1 when I won 12 straight points and tied it 4-4. He went up 5-4 and I tied it 5-5, won the last set...huge improvement from last time and I was really excited that I came back and won the match.
     
    #15
  16. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    10,050
    Spoiler Alert

    So do you pronounce your last name STAR-Ace or Starr-a-chay?

    Kidding. SOrry if that is a SPOILER

    Man, don't worry about it. Just learn from it. SOme good advice above. I want to comiserate with you, man. I was 13, playing up in a 16s interclub against the other club's top guy. We're both top 30 in our section, but he's 2nd yr of 16s, I'm in 14s. This guy was bigger, faster and better than me, but I started off going for my shots, moving in and totally throwing him off. I mean, even my one-handed BH passes were flawless (I was tree-ing my ass off). I had lost to his younger brother a year before, and now I was up an early break on him? What!?

    He was fuming. He made errors. I played great. I got up 5-1.

    He steadied the ship. I started to press. He got back to 5-all, and eventually won the interclub match 9-8 (8 game pro set format....we were the last match off, and the crowd was watching). This was a crushing loss. The guy hugged me after the match and told me I was going to be a good player when I got older. He went on to play DI tennis. So did I, a few years later.

    This loss really hurt, but it meant the world to me. I learned a LOT from it. Not that that was the last time I ever choked, but I definitely was a better man after that experience.

    I hope you learn from it.
     
    #16
  17. Winners or Errors

    Winners or Errors Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,575
    So long as you do it to other people more often than it happens to you, no worries. If you do that every time you are in that situation... well, I just don't have any advice other than calm down and don't pay attention to the score. Maybe you should write down the game score after each game, so you can put it out of your mind while playing but not lose track.
     
    #17
  18. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Messages:
    12,740
    Location:
    USA
    Are you Starace?
     
    #18
  19. NickH87

    NickH87 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    I have no clue what you are talking about...:confused:

    So no, I am not, I am NickH from Connecticut
     
    #19
  20. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Messages:
    43,793
    I was about to ask the same thing. :)

    Potito Starace lost the 3rd set to Murray today after being up 5-1 and 40-15 on Murray's serve with two break points and set points but ended up losing the next 6 games in a row instead to lose the set 7-5. Ouch!! :(

    So don't feel so bad. It even happens to the top pros.
     
    #20
  21. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Messages:
    12,740
    Location:
    USA
    It happens to pros, but Starace isn't exactly a top pro.
     
    #21
  22. bulldawg

    bulldawg Rookie

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Messages:
    105
    I agree with Grampy...play one point at a time. Try to stay loose and relaxed and in the moment, not the possible future. I've come back from 0-6, 0-5 to win a league match because the guy started playing "to not lose", and I played free and loose. I've also choked away plenty of leads in tournaments and leagues by crossing the finish line too soon in my head. The important thing is to learn from it, so you can be better prepared the next time.
     
    #22
  23. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Messages:
    43,793
    Starace was #27 in the world not too long ago. I consider anyone in the Top 250 a "top pro", i.e., anyone who can earn a living playing tennis matches.
     
    #23
  24. NickH87

    NickH87 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    Ohhh okay, I thought maybe he was some other guy on the forum that you thought made a new name. Didnt realize he was an actual tennis pro.
     
    #24
  25. mdjenders

    mdjenders Professional

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    1,263
    watching the starace match, it was really shocking how quickly that set turned around. the first three games after 5-1, starace was still playing well, had set points, deuce, or 30-30. it was just a couple key shots by murray, key returns that potito missed by inches that closed the gap. once murray got to 4-5 down, pressure kicked in and set was his.
     
    #25
  26. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    10,050
    Truth.

    Beginners, 3.0s, 4.0s, 5.0s, all of us....even the pros. So take heart, Nick. Actually, it happens to pros pretty often. There was one match today like it, too. And another in which the guy who was up 5-1 took the set 6-1...then went on to lose the match in five. Ouch.

    And there was one today in which the guy who was up 5-1 won that set in a breaker. Tough stuff both ways.

    Well, best of luck in your upcoming matches.

    I used to have a coach who'd say that even if you've got a big serve, being up a break late in a set (4-2 or 5-2) is a deceptive lead.
     
    #26
  27. Ajtat411

    Ajtat411 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    591
    I've had this happen to me also. This was because I thought about the final outcome of the game and started to play more tentatively which created easier shots for my opponent.

    The problem is that it compounds itself when your oppenent starts to gain confidence and plays more loose and things start to snowball. It happens a lot on the professional level, it's hard to keep the pedal to the metal 100% of the time.

    You have to focus on each point within each game. Don't worry about the total score since there are score cards to keep track of that. Just play your game point by point, stay relaxed and keep your mind focused on strategy and swinging through the ball.
     
    #27
  28. Ajtat411

    Ajtat411 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    591
    Oh, forgot to add. I think about K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple Stupid. Don't overthink, just react and play.
     
    #28
  29. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,474
    It happens to everyone at one point or another. Maybe next time you're win one from 5-1 down.
     
    #29
  30. NickH87

    NickH87 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    yesterday i won from down a set, won in three with that last set down 4-1
     
    #30
  31. subaru3169

    subaru3169 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    515
    Location:
    la, ca
    i've tried telling this to one of my buddy's daughter.. she entered her first tourney a couple weekends ago and lost first round.. her father told me she couldn't relax and got tighter and tighter as the match reached its end.. simple concept, but it's hard to control.. for all of us=/
     
    #31
  32. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Messages:
    12,331
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    ^^^ Tennis is a game of stuff that is easy to say, and hard to do.

    J
     
    #32
  33. chrisdaniel

    chrisdaniel Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2004
    Messages:
    425
    ....

    Very True!
     
    #33
  34. chrisdaniel

    chrisdaniel Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2004
    Messages:
    425
    ...

    I have been on the winning and losing sides to this topic. It's great to be on the winning side.:)
     
    #34
  35. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Messages:
    12,331
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I remember I was telling a story to my friend who is a teaching pro of how I played this guy in a tournament with a legit 140mph serve, and how screwed I was trying to get it back.

    And he looks at me, in all seriousness and says "Oh, well you just block it back."

    And I just looked at him like "Are you F'ing kidding me?"

    J
     
    #35
  36. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Messages:
    43,793
    Man, this must be an epidemic. Either that or the top pros are reading this thread. It happened at the FO again yesterday. Acasuso was up 5-1 on Federer in the pivotal 3rd set (it was 1-set all), and ended up losing the set. Amazing.

    The pros must be reading this thread and now think coming back from 1-5 down is a piece of cake. :wink:
     
    #36
  37. BoomerangX

    BoomerangX Rookie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2009
    Messages:
    199
    Location:
    Southern California
    Happens to everyone. It hurts. Especially in doubles, when both you and your partner get down on each other and mentally break down to give your opponents your win.

    Just have to boost your mental game (same for me too :p).
     
    #37
  38. dafox

    dafox Rookie

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    176
    Treat each point the same and stick with the strategy that got you to 5-0; this has happened to me in the past, but everytime I'm up 5-0 I just think about how I have blown it in the past and focus like I need this game even more (have no mercy on the tennis court; but be the very nice as soon as the match is over). If you want to be a nice guy - YOU WILL LOSE.
     
    #38
  39. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,212
    Location:
    L. Island, NY
    I was once up in the 1st rd of county championships in my senior year of HS on my opponent 5-1 in the first set. Serving and volleying like a madman. My opponent then took over and I lost 7-6 6-1.

    During the match with me up about 4-1 another player asked the score. When I told him he looked at me in amazement and said do you know who that is? He's the number one ranked player in the county!. I got nervous. I was a nobody from a lower middle class school district who never had a lesson in my life. He was from one of the best richest schools in the county and clearly had professional instruction.

    I regretted the loss for a little while but one thing stood out. When we shook hands he gave me all the respect in the world and told me I was a hell of a player and that I had him beat. He had never heard of me and expected an easy match- as anyone in his shoes would have. He basically treated everyone else like he walked on water. I didn't win but I got his respect.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2009
    #39
  40. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,212
    Location:
    L. Island, NY
    Block it back? I'd pull a John Kruk vs Randy Johnson in the all star game and just bail out.
     
    #40
  41. Cross Court

    Cross Court Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Never happened to me, because when my momentum gets really high I'm usually unbeatable. It happened to my opponents though, I was once down 5-2 and brought it to 7-5 my win. It's all a matter of waiting for your opponent to choke since they're close to winning, and play free and loose and tell yourself, "I don't care how this match turns out, it's still going on, which means I have more time to have fun".

    Think of it as fun. Because remember, we all play tennis because it's fun.
     
    #41
  42. edberg505

    edberg505 Legend

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2005
    Messages:
    6,074
    Yup, I felt sick to my freaking stomach after that match too. I was up 5-1 and serving against a nationally ranked player whom I had never beaten in any of our previous encounters. I was on fire, could do no wrong. Then the guy changed up his tactics and started slow balling me. He pushed and pushed and I just over hit. I will tell you this though. The next time you are in that predicament, make sure to concentrate on holding your serve.
     
    #42
  43. TsongaEatingAPineappleLol

    TsongaEatingAPineappleLol Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    266
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    It happens a lot. Trust me, from an experienced competitive player I can tell you that anything can happen when you don't put your mind to every point. Let me give you an example.

    A while back I was playing a match at my club and if I'd win, I would be #10 there. I played a hard fought battle and it ended up being me serving for four match points, 5-4, 40-0. I decided it would be easy, so I relaxed and took risks. A lot of risks. You know what happened? Bam. 40-15. 40-30. 40-40. Game (We don't play ad). It was 5-5 and I started getting nervous and lost the match. And this wasn't the first time it happened, either.

    Trust me, it;s brutal out there, but when you're ahead, fight for your life like you would if you were losing a Grand Slam Final. Tell yourself this: The Match isn't Over Yet.
     
    #43
  44. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Messages:
    12,331
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    If you want to hit shoot me an e-mail.

    I can also set you up with some other people if you want. I'll be around this weekend.

    J
     
    #44
  45. Kick_It

    Kick_It Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    442
    The simplest advice I can give you on this is:

    "Play the point, not the occasion."

    Do your best to tune out that you're on the verge of winning the set, and just focus on playing each point and winning each point. Don't let your mind race.

    Good luck! K_I
     
    #45
  46. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,319
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I had a singles match on Tuesday, I was up 5-0 in the first set, and then my opponent was finally able to see my serves better and came back to 5-4. I was starting to get very frustrated and angry at myself, and I forced myself to calm down and get back to basics, swing low to high on forhand, go for the corners, and I ended up winning 6-4. The next set was similar, I had him at 4-0, and my opponent came back to 4-3, and I ended up wining 6-3. My opponent never gave up, that meant neither could I!
     
    #46
  47. TennisND

    TennisND Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2008
    Messages:
    101
    Mine was even worst. I was playing MXD and we were up 5-0, 40-0. Then suddenly my partner got choke then keep losing from that point. We lost that set 7-6 and the next one 6-3. The other team just kept hitting at her and there is nothing I can do about it. Since she got a big choke, she could not return or hit a good shot at all. After the match, she just kept saying sorry and I told her no worry about it. Just a bad experience.

    Is there anything I can do different in this case? changing formation? taking more time out?
     
    #47
  48. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,212
    Location:
    L. Island, NY
    You didn't choke then.
     
    #48
  49. catskillthunder

    catskillthunder Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Upstate, NY
    This is an old story, it takes place back in 1991 at our annual city open tournament.

    The story goes as follows. I was playing an older guy, probably 10 years my age (I was 16 at the time). He had an absolutely huge serve. As we were warming up and he was blasting serves, I was trying to figure out how the hell I was going to return. Should I take half swings, block it back, slice or just stick my racquet out and pray. At this point in my life I was a strong 4.0 probably a low 4.5. I have never seen this guy play before, but was told prior to the match he was a former college player at our area's university. So anyway, (Ill remember the best I can) I serve first, hold serve. Now the moment of truth, its his turn to serve. I cranks a 1st serve bomb to my forehand side that I hit clean for a DTL winner. I think it was the hardest forehand I ever hit in my life. I think that sent a message to him not to serve to my forehand, but I to this day think it was more luck on my part that I hit such a fantastic shot on his 900 billion mph serve. So after that he starts just hitting twists/kick serves to my backhand. My 2HBH was easily the more consistent and stronger of my shots, it fed right into my strengths. I can hear this guy talking to himself about how he cant believe Im teeing off on his serve like this. I guess my forehand winner on his very first serve played a mental trick on him not to serve to my forehand. Needless to say I was up 5-0, it was his serve when it all collapsed on me. The magic I had up until that point fizzled out and it was me that started doing the talking to myself.

    Final score: 7-6, 6-0. I basically lost all confidence after blowing a 5-0 lead. My friends whom were watching the match said they have never witnessed such awesome play from me, then all of the sudden I was reduced to nothing in the blink of an eye. Sad But True.
     
    #49
  50. ednec

    ednec New User

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    I've been playing for almost 17 years (I'm 24) and I can tell you closing a set/match can be one of the most difficult parts of the game. Most of the time it happens because the player get either too tight or too relaxed, and loses focus of what is needed to finish it.

    In your case I would suggest that if it ever happened again, take a few seconds, pull it together and get a first serve in. Nothing adds more pressure to the player than not getting first serves in, and most of them miss it because they don't even think about getting it in.

    I'm not much of a mental player, I just do what I have to do, but sometimes things just don't go your way.
     
    #50

Share This Page