The specificity of preparation that I raised in the last post has already been brought home in the first few days of the Australian Open. Not only is the duration of matches (best of five rather than three for men) and the duration of the tournament (two rather than one week) different to the regular tour but, of course, conditions for each of the slams vary.
This is true both in terms of court surface and weather conditions – the Australian Open is the only slam where temperatures regularly get into the high 30’s (centigrade) and occasionally into the 40s. This may happen occasionally at the US Open but not as high and as often. Even playing late in the evening the long three set second round match between eighth seed Petra Kvitova and Laura Robson of the UK was particularly grueling. Although British, Robson, born in Melbourne, in the second and third sets seemed in better condition both physically and mentally than Kvitova (the more experienced and higher ranked of the two). Like court surface, weather conditions are the same for both players and, while they can’t be controlled they can be prepared for.
It was also interesting to hear Federer’s post match press conference having won his second round match in straightforward fashion against Davydenko. He talked about how the game had changed over the many years he’d been playing at the top. How in fact the pace of the ball has got slower with the capability to create more angles and how he has had to adapt his game to remain at the top.
Often less experienced players let external factors, those they can’t control, get the better of them and get down because of it. Simply, it affects their performance more than it should. This can impact more experienced players, as the blue clay courts in Madrid seemed to bother both Nadal and Djokovic. The conditions are the same for both players, those factors that you can’t control have to be accepted and play adapted accordingly, whether it’s the court surface, the weather, the crowd, etc.
Blaming external factors is not helpful, having the right mind set for events out of one’s control is an important element in dealing with them and performing as well as possible in the circumstances. While we can not control all the factors that might impact our performance we can choose how we react to them, whether in sport or in business.