Robin Soderling Blames ‘Laziness’ For Decline In Swedish Tennis Stars - UBITENNIS
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Robin Soderling Blames ‘Laziness’ For Decline In Swedish Tennis Stars

At one point the country was a heavyweight in the world of tennis. Now there are just three male players currently ranked in the top 400.

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Elias Ymer (above) is Sweden’s top male tennis player, but he is yet to break into the world’s top 100 (zimbio.com)

Sweden’s once prominent position in the world of tennis has been hampered by national coaches ‘failing to improve,’ according to former world No.4 Robin Soderling.

 

The 33-year-old spoke out about the issue during a special press conference held at the French Open on Thursday. Soldering was the last Swedish player to contest the final of a grand slam tournament back in 2010 when he lost to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. His career came to an abrupt end after he failed to recover from a long-term illness. Soldering was hit by mononucleosis in 2011, a viral illness also known as glandular fever. He spent four years away from the tour before officially retiring in 2015.

Since his retirement, there is yet to be another Swedish superstar in the sport. The Ymer brothers have illustrated glimpses of their potential, but are yet to break out onto the main stage. 22-year-old Elias, who is coached by Soderling, has been ranked as high as 118th in the world and has four challenger titles under his belt. Meanwhile, younger brother Mikael is yet to break into the top 300. They are currently two of three Swedish men ranked in the top 400. The other is world No.303 Markus Eriksson.

“Tennis got really popular in Sweden, and all kids, both boys and girls, they wanted to start playing tennis. Then you get all the talented kids to your sports, and then of course it’s easier.” Soderling explained.
“Just by Björn Borg’s success, we had Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander, and then Magnus (Norman), Thomas Enqvist, Thomas Johansson, all these players, and it was just a self-playing thing. It just went on.”

So how did Sweden lose its grip in the sport? It is something that be attributed to a variety of factors. Although for Soldering, he feels that a lot of it is to do with his country’s approach to coaching. During the most successful part of his career, he was mentored by fellow compatriot Norman. Who has since been known for his collaboration with three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka.

“You don’t win tennis matches today the same way you won tennis matches in the ’80s and ’90s. I think the federation, the coaches in Sweden got a little bit lazy because one thing had been working for so many years, and they thought it would just be working by itself in the future.” He said.
“But when the tennis changed, the sport improved, I don’t think the coaches really improved. They didn’t see what was going on, and they were coaching the players in the same way.
“I think that’s why we don’t have any players. And now there is other sports that are much more popular. It’s difficult. All the kids, they want to play football.”

During his career, Soldering won 10 ATP titles, including the 2010 Paris Masters.

Sweden’s top five players (as of 7/6/2018)

No.122 Elias Ymer
No.303 Markus Eriksson
No.368 Mikael Ymer
No.419 Christian Lindell
No.605 Jonathan Mridha

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Do Your Players Understand The Tennis Score System? – If They Don’t, They’ll Struggle Mentally

The more unrealistic expectations players have got, the more they are going to struggle with their thoughts and emotions.

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A frustrated coach calls. Asks for a mental tool to help “fix” their player’s mentality. But it’s not always a mental tool that is required. Often, it’s about going back to the basics. It’s about educating players about the realities of tennis. First step is getting players to know how to count. Second step is educating players about the score system. Close to every coach gets the first step done properly. The second step, not so much. And let me be the first to say, I have not been any better myself. 

 

So how do we start to educate players about the score system of tennis? 

A bold but true statement, that needs to be taken into account. “Tennis players are a bunch of losers” as Kelsey Anderson once entitled a blog post of hers. The reality is that tennis players lose a lot when playing matches. 

Craig O’Shannesy has made statistics in tennis easy to understand and digest. Craig’s work is a cornerstone in helping players with more realistic expectations. More realistic expectations equal less frustration and anger on court. 

So, let’s have a look at a key static to help educate the player you are coaching. 

Roger Federer
-103 titles
-1200+ match wins.
-20 Grand Slams
-Nearly $130 million in prize money

Undeniably one of the best tennis players to ever live. 

How many percentages of the points he has played in his professional career has he won? 

Before I knew the statistic, I guessed 70% or even 75%. After all, we are talking about Roger Federer.

I was wrong!

55%. 

Meaning that Roger Federer has lost 45 % of the points that he has played in his professional career. Almost half the points he has played. I was astonished the first time I heard this statistic! 

We are not talking about your average professional, it’s a player that has dominated the sport together with the rest of the so called “big three”. 

Talking about “the big three”. Interestingly Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the only 2 other players to equal Federer on 55 % of points won in their professional career. 

So what does this statistic mean to players?

A lot of players believe that they should be winning 8/10 points to win a match. That they have to destroy the other player. They play 3 good points and then miss an easy put-away forehand and yell “I’m sooooo bad!”. 

The reality is that if a player is only messing up on every 4th point, they are doing an unbelievable job. Tennis is a game of mistakes. No matter how hard players try they can’t avoid making mistakes. We want to minimize unforced errors but player’s thinking that they can go through a match without making mistakes and losing a lot of points is simply unrealistic. 

When a player’s internal reality is different from the reality they are faced with in matches, it will lead to frustration and anger. The frustration and anger will be termed as bad behavior and a mental problem. The mental problem is often attempted to be fixed with mental tools. Could be a physical routine or a breathing technique. While the mental tools can treat the symptom and be very helpful in acute situations, it’s important to address the cause of why the frustration and anger arises in the first place. 

From the 55% statistic on Federer how is it possible to help the players with more realistic expectations? 

Here are 2 coaching advice to reinforce to players:

“Expect to lose almost every other point even in the matches that you are winning” 

“If you can keep you opponent from winning 2 points in a row for long enough – eventually you’ll win”

Remember that unrealistic expectations lead to players experiencing frustration and anger. The better we educate players about the realities of tennis, the more realistic expectations they will have. The more realistic expectations the more focus and mental energy can be spent focusing on their gameplan and executing their shots. The more focus on executing their shots, the bigger opportunity of performing well. The better the player perform, the bigger the opportunity of winning the match. 

By Adam Blicher
Danish Sport Psychologist Consultant Adam Blicher is a member of the International Sport Mental Coach Association

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Gael Monfils Joins Forces With Former Long-Time Coach Of Dominic Thiem

Will the Frenchman return to his best form with the help of his new mentor?

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Tennis star Gael Monfils will start the 2021 season with a new team setup after confirming the appointment of a new coach.

 

The former US Open semi-finalist has paired up with the renowned Gunther Bresnik who is best known for his time spent working alongside Dominic Thiem for over a decade until their split in 2019. Thiem is now coached by Nicolas Massu. Bresnik is the former Davis Cup captain of Austria and has worked with numerous top names such as Ernests Gulbis, Jerzy Janowicz, Boris Becker and Henri Leconte.

Monfils has been training with Bresnik during the off-season but only now has it been confirmed that the two have formed an agreement to work together. However, over the coming weeks Monfils will be guided by another Austrian. Co-coach Richard Ruckelshausen will work with the world No.11 in Australia and has been appointed as the captain of the French ATP Cup team.

“I’ve known Gaël for a long time,” Bresnik told krone.at on January 9th. “With Ernests Gulbis and Stefan Lochbihler’s son, he worked on his shape here in Spain (during the off-season).”

The 34-year-old will be looking to get back on top form following what was a roller-coaster 2020. Monfils started last year by winning 16 matches within a three-month period. However, following the pause in tennis due to the COVID-19 pandemic he struggled to regain that form. Ending the season with three consecutive first round losses.

Monfils had been working with Liam Smith. The upcoming Australian Open will be his 54th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. He has only reached the quarter-finals at the Melbourne major once which was back in 2016.

So far in his career Monfils has won 10 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as sixth in the world.

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Tennis Australia Revamps Tournament Schedule Following Lockdown Quarantine

A series of changes have been implemented after dozens of players was placed into a strict quarantine after being deemed a close contact of somebody who tested positive for COVID-19.

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One extra tournament and a slight delay of three others have been approved by officials to help support players who have been forced into strict quarantine ahead of the Australian Open.

 

72 players in Melbourne are currently prohibited from leaving their room for a 14-day period after they were deemed to be a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19. A Series of flights en route to the city detected positive tests and all of those on board have been ordered to isolate by health officials. Among those affected are Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and Kei Nishikori.

In a bid to help support those who have been unable to train in recent days, Tennis Australia has confirmed that a third WTA event will take place during the week leading up to the first Grand Slam of the season. The Grampians Trophy will take place between February 3rd-7th and will only be open to those who have been affected by the quarantine. Like the other two, it will be classed as a WTA 500 event.

On the ATP Tour there will be no extra tournaments taking place but all three of their lead-up tournaments will start a day later. This applies to two ATP 250 events, as well as the ATP Cup.

“This has been a particularly challenging time for the athletes in hard lockdown and we, along with the WTA and ATP, aim to do everything we can to help,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said in a statement.
“These changes to the lead-in events have been made to give the 72 players a little bit of extra time to help them prepare. We also will prioritise them for things like practice sessions, gym and ice baths.”

Andrea Gaudenzi, who is the chairman of the ATP Tour, said players will also receive priority over practice and preparation. During strict quarantine all players have been provided with gym equipment that they can use in their rooms.

We are eager to start what I am sure will be a fantastic summer of tennis in Melbourne in front of our great Australian fans.” said Gaudenzi.

In total six tournaments will take place prior to the Australian Open which will start on February 8th.

New schedule of events

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