Originally Posted by El Diablo
I don't follow the OP's point that "no lead is safe" in a five set match. That would certainly also be true in a three set match, moreso actually in a three set match because being up 2-0 in sets in a five setter is more likely to demoralize the opponent (i.e. the lead is safer) than being up 1-0 in a three setter where the opponent realizes he doesn't have such a high mountain to climb.
I don't think being demoralized comes into your mindset when you are down 0-2, it didn't come into my mind. It was more that this was do-or-die time, if you lose this set, you are done, if you win, then you are right back into the match. And it is harder to close out an opponent if you have a 2-0 lead and you are starting to get tired. Say you breeze through the 1st set, then win a hard-fought second set, which is what my opponent did. You still have to go out and win another set, and if you don't win the next one, then you are going to be playing for a lot longer.
I finally started to play better toward the end of the 2nd set, and especially the 3rd set, while my opponent had a let down in the 3rd, which probably comes naturally when you are in that position. The 4th set was, surprisingly, our best played set, we had longer points and a lot of good shotmaking. At one point in the 4th set I was serving at 2-2, love-40, but I was able to hold, and broke him in the next game, then I went on to take the set. I was throwing in a lot of slices and kick serves in the last two sets, since when you get tired, your footwork is often the first to go, and my opponent was often hitting shots with his feet not in the right position and he would make errors.
But I was surprised at how good I felt late in the match. In a 3 set match, our minds may "see the finish line", so to speak, so you might feel more tired, but when you are playing best of five, you know you potentially have more tennis to play, and it's like you are more mentally prepared for the long haul. 3rd set feels more like the middle of the match, instead of the end, if that makes sense. Of course, it probably helped that I just let some balls go for winners at certain points where I felt that it would have been futile to weakly get the ball back from way deep in the corner, but those are just things that you do in a long match.