Recovering from a bad first set

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by MisterP, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. MisterP

    MisterP Hall of Fame

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    Opponent played lights out tonight. Everything I did he had an answer for. All the usual tricks: pace, junk, S&V, drop/lob just didn’t work. Even my serve was getting returned pretty regularly which is abnormal. Bagel in the first.

    Started the second thinking “Ok, this can’t last. He’s never played this well. Just play the percentages.” So that’s what I did. Stay cross court, minimal changes of direction and reeeeeeally focus on loading with my legs and hitting heavy balls. Same on serve. Nothing crazy, but use legs and accelerate through contact and trust the swing.

    Next thing I know I’m up 5-2, closed it out at 6-3. Won a tight third set breaker 17-15(!).

    Weather the storm, play the percentages, and use your legs until they hurt.

    What are your strategies for coming back from tough sets?
     
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  2. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    That's one of those "it depends" questions.

    Sometimes I don't change anything and simply execute better to make it a more even match.

    Sometimes I radically change and that helps me reset and might surprise or at least unbalance the opponent.

    I was in the same situation recently and I got pummeled in both sets; nothing I did seemed to matter. The upside was that it prepared me for the next day's match.
     
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  3. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    When you play really bad 1 set its very uncommon to play the same level in the 2nd set, most people kimd of reset in their head and usually play better in the 2nd set, nothing special, sometimes u just lose focus for a few games kr a set.
     
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  4. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    If player is no better than me otherwise, it's pretty much the same as you describe. Trying to improve consistency, not present UEs to my opponent and traying to raise my game little by little instead of getting into pressure to instantly play better. The latter would be counterproductive and unsuccessful.

    We know tennis is funny, everyone can get his momentum or enter into that mysterious mode when even all the luck is working in his favour. For some reason, this will hardly last for two full sets. I've been in situations where I lost the first set, then my opponent started to play like crazy, leading me 3:0 in the second...but I remained calm, waiting for my five minutes, got my streak of games turned around that set.

    There's nothing wrong in losing against player who played better tennis that day, or who had Tennis Gods on his side that day. Or both. If one understands this as being just natural, there's no reason to get tense at any phase or at any scenario of the match.

    Yea but this is a different situation, not when you play bad. Let's say you played average quality for your standards...but your opponent plays unusually at that stage of the match. So you actually played well, but he bagelled you nevertheless. And you know he's not that good usually as you know him well as a player. How would you feel?
     
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  5. FiReFTW

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    It happens aswell, sometimes you are just on fire, but usually it doesn't last for that long, you just have to weather the storm will things turn, you know that momentum turns alot in a tennis match usually.
     
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  6. Jamesm182

    Jamesm182 Semi-Pro

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    Mentally you did exactly the right thing here, didnt focus too much on the result , but what you could improve on your side of the net. This is hard to cope with and look at sometimes and people focus on and get frustrated by how well the opponent is playing, or the odd easy miss etc.

    This sounds like it is also a bit of a two way swing , you adjusted your tactics and focus , and improved, and also the inevitability of your opponents level dropping also happened.

    If your opponent was hitting winners all over the place , I often give them a challenge, put them under pressure and if they do it once, it could be dumb luck, a couple of times they're playing well. etc etc until they start missing. Its like a sliding scale of diminishing returns.
    If you can come away thinking you tried everything and raised your level to a point you consider playing well and you still are getting beat its too good from them.

    Momentum is also quite a hard thing to break, its much rarer for a player to win a 1st set then lose the second but win a decider or a tie break. The person winning the second set should in theory have an advantage here.
     
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  7. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    If an opponent has this day where he is on fire and everything is going in, theres not much you can do, so OP is probably too harsh on himself.

    Remember how Cilic completely destroyed Federer in the US open years ago in 3 sets? Its not that Fed played bad, but Cilic was just LIGHTS OUT on FIRE that day, hitting extremely low margin shots and everything went in and licked the lines.

    Absolutely nothing Fed could have done that day.
     
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  8. Jamesm182

    Jamesm182 Semi-Pro

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    OP was only referring to a lights out first set though , against a player he normally beats ,and still managed to. He is talking about how he turned it around , or tried to.
    If a player has the ability to do so for a match, as I said in the post , its just good , as you would have to say in your example, fed would have to hold his hands up
     
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  9. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation G.O.A.T.

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    "Win fast, lose slow." You nailed it.

    I like to coach the high school kids on this idea all the time. If you're winning, don't make any drastic adjustments. If you're losing, take an extra breath between points, hit higher percentage shots so that you're at least not donating to your opponent's "free point fund" - that sort of thing. When the other guy is hitting everything well, sometimes the only thing we can do is give an opponent time for doubt to creep in. Sometimes it won't, but sometimes it will.
     
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  10. MisterP

    MisterP Hall of Fame

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    I will say that I have been capturing a lot of my play on video recently and as painful as it is to watch it has helped tremendously.

    I had two matches in the past week where I just felt like I couldn't time the ball properly and was just not able to do anything right. When I went back and looked at the video I discovered that I had been hugging the baseline (on it or within a few inches of it) during both matches. Both times my opponents were hitting deep balls and for some reason I refused to move back a few steps, and I was constantly late or jammed.

    Start video recording your matches and hitting sessions. It pays off big time.
     
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