French Open Storylines 4


French Open Storylines

Yes, I know. It has been a while since a posting. My story has been that I have been overwhelmed with our planned move to Colorado. It is coming up in less than two weeks and it has felt like there is no time for all we need to do. And I definitely don’t have time to write.

At least that is the story that I have been telling to myself and others. Last week I realized that that story is just not working.

So I changed it. Leaving NY after 67 years and moving west is an exciting experience of letting go. I am a master of time management. I welcome the not knowing what it will be like. Moving is an experience of effortless effort. I walk slowly and breathe deeply.

Once I wrote that story, things started to change. Efficiency. No stress. Being happy. Feeling the excitement. The tumblers of the lock falling effortlessly into place.

And time to write about the French Open.

There are five storylines this year. We are lucky to have so many to follow as it has not been this way for some time.

The biggest story is Rafa Nadal. Most of what has been written asks whether or not he can win it again. To me the story is how does a long time champion deal with a decline in results. Rafa, of course, is not the external player he was. My interest, though, is the internal Rafa. The one who has demonstrated a level of competitiveness that is among the greats of all time. He lived his tennis life one point at a time. Competing with his opponent? For sure. Competing with himself? Absolutely. And it is this competition with himself that is what I am eager to see. I am confident that his internal strength is one that will carry him to continue to treat each and every point, winning or losing, as if the fate of the universe depends on his effort. He has always played as if anything less than full effort would result in food being taken away from his family. He is definition Samurai warrior. They always fought two opponents. The one facing them and the one within themselves. To defeat themselves of fear, doubt and worry gave them the best chance to defeat their outer opponent. And if Rafa continues over the next two weeks to fight his inner opponent, in my mind, he will win. Maybe not the whole tournament, but he will be the extraordinary champion he has always been. Results be damned.

Novak is playing the best of anyone in the world right now. As is always with the case with a dominant #1, it seems that there is no way for someone to beat them. Novak is driven to win this one Slam that he has been unable to win. There are a couple of scenarios that will keep him from this victory. If he and his team are too goaled in on the victory, he will be just a little less than he needs to be as future thinking takes a player out of the present, the place where they are at their very best. The margins are too small to be in thought rather than in that lock down focused place. Rafa, Roger, Murray and a few others may be less goaled in and more in the point by point mentality and that can create an upset. Or Novak’s need to be cheered for by the fans may be the little mental wiggle that could cost him. He is desperate to be loved by the fans and when they cheer for the underdog against him, it can take him just a little out of focus. The last scenario is the one that is out of his control. One of the big servers can get hot. When that happens the points can be short and favor the big hitter. Big serve and crushing first groundstroke. But Roger has shown that those guys can’t win by just holding serve. They need to break. So Novak, as he has done so well over the last few years, needs to serve well in the tight moments. So for Novak it is all about maintaining focus. If he does, it is hard to pick another over him.

Roger Federer. I love this guy. Everyone wrote him off and then he came back to shouting distance of #1 in the world last year. He has the advantage of having accomplished so much that he can play freely without fear of losing. What an advantage. To be free of results is to be free of internal tension. Take the tension away from Fed and he is a factor in every match.

Andy Murray. He is playing amazing tennis despite continuing to struggle with his perfectionist demons. Think of how good this guy could be if he could celebrate his good shots and shrink his reactions to errors. He, too, can fall victim to thinking about getting to #1 or winning the slam rather than the point by point play. Any match he plays, though, is a good matchup against the top guys. He moves, counterpunches and changes pace in a way that take others out of their games. If his emotional energy stays positive he could steal this slam.

The last story is about the rest of the field: Nishikori, Berdych, Ferrer, lead the second tier group. They are followed by some of the young guns led by Dimitrov, Kyrgios. And watch out for the French. It is their slam and they might go deep as destiny sometimes outweighs the reality of levels: Gasquet, Monfils, Tsonga, Simon. Everything needs to go their way for them to win the French, as it did with Cilic at last year’s US Open. It hasn’t happened too often over the last ten years but, the possibility is why we play the matches.

For all of these athletes it is about right practice, right attitude, right thinking. If that is in their mix then they play, win or lose, and have no regrets. As they compete to be the best version of themselves, they will be able to sit back and observe the results that come their way with the dignity and class of the great champions.


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4 thoughts on “French Open Storylines

  • MEL DI GIACOMO

    AS ALWAYS A TERRIFIC READ.

    P.S,I HOPE COLORADO WORKS OUT.WE’RE NEW YORKERS.YEA I LIVE IN JERSEY BUT HAVE WORKED FOR 45 YEARS IN THE BIG APPLE.I’M ACUTELY AWARE OF SOMETHING SONNY WERBLIN SAID.”ANYTHING OUTSIDE NEW YORK IS NEW HAVEN ,CT.”

  • Ed Schroback

    Great comments Bob in sharing your thoughts about moving..As always you see the positive in the chaos..I’ll be the last one to tell YOU “not to worry”..So i’ll just keep in touch by email ..NEW is great and i’ll leave most things as a pleasant surprise.
    “Future thinking takes a player out of the present, the place where they are at their very best”. I love this Bob, a very cool, original quote.
    Mel probably doesn’t remember me when we met at Hudson County Park (Braddock park, North Bergen NJ) in the 70’s but count me as a happy resident of Colorado after 63 years in New Jersey LOL

  • Frank Kelley

    Bobby, get your butt out here. The West is waiting for you to explore. Out of the comfort zone of the East Coast. You have a good guide in JoAnne.

    As for the French, what about the women? Is this the year for a US female to break out?