Pros choking

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by tennissavy, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. tennissavy

    tennissavy Hall of Fame

    Jan 7, 2005
    We've all seen a lot of pros do it- have a huge dominant lead and choke to death. Lindsay against Kuznetsova, Maria and Serena. Myskina choked when up 5-1 to Henin. The latest is going on right now in Estoril- Osterloh up 6-0 and a break in the 2nd is now in danger of being ousted. It's incredible how such commanding leads can dissipate. How? Sudden caving in under nervousness? I could understand an injury but in the cases I've mentioned, it just seems to be mental weakness.
  2. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Professional

    Feb 10, 2005
    It is quite shocking really.
  3. scoot

    scoot Rookie

    Apr 19, 2005
    Yes, usually its mental weakness on the part of the player in the lead but thats not all of it. Dont forget, its harder to close a match than it is to open a lead. Players when down with their back against the walls finally let loose and swing from their hips - they have nothing to lose. This is why you often see players losing sets 6-0 and then you'll have a very close second set. Also its hard for the player in the lead to sustain such a high level over the course of multiple sets. Only elite players (Graf, prestabbing Seles, Hingis, Williams, etc.) have the ability to maintain devastating form & demoralize opponents from start to finish.
  4. federerhoogenbandfan

    federerhoogenbandfan Banned

    Mar 5, 2005
    I would add 2003-onwards Henin to that category. She might lose matches, but she slams the door closed now when she has a grip on the match, and she has the ability to dig in and take a match from an opponent too.
  5. axl1892

    axl1892 New User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Most of it is mental, obviously, as is so much about tennis. But also you are being very selective about your examples - most 5-1 leads turn into 6-1 sets, and then we never talk about them again. It's only the small proportion of 5-1 leads that degenerates into 5-7 losses, but then it's truly a huge surprise and worth the mention, particularly when it happens on a big stage between top players.
    The other explanation is that the player who is behind, having nothing to lose, starts swinging for the fences, gets lucky, starts to pull back, the leader gets nervous, and things spiral out of control.
    Some players just play better with their backs against the wall. I still remember a match I played with a guy where I was up 6-2, 5-2. I served for it at 5-2, 5-4, 6-5 and had several matchpoints on serve in the tiebreak, and I swear, every time it came up, the guy played a great point, and got out of trouble. I won the 3rd 6-1 just because he was so exhausted, but let me tell you when he finally won a game at 5-0, I was starting to think it was going to happen all over again.

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