For amateurs, this can be infuriating. But for professional tennis players, mastering the mind during a game is a key part of winning, and the pressure can be so intense (with tennis being such a public sport) that it demands a high level of mental agility.
British sports commentator Richard Evans, who covered Wimbledon since the 1960s, makes the astute point that, “tennis is not a gentle game. Psychologically, it is vicious. That people are only just beginning to come to terms with this fact illustrates just how big a con trick has been perpetrated on the non-playing tennis public – and even a few players, usually losing players – for decades.”
The intrinsic connection he makes between psychological hardiness and winning is one of the essential staples of the game, psychologists say. And, according to an investigation which used intercollegiate tennis teams in the US to study psychological behavior during a competitive game, one of the most important traits to build is a positive reaction to adversity: resilience, in other words.
Andy Murray’s performance during the 2015 Australian Open was a case in point for Richard Cowden, one of the authors of this paper: “What surprised me the most,” he said, “was Murray's inability to capitalise on momentum shifts (being a break down and breaking back to even the score) and maintain leads when he had worked incredibly hard to obtain a break of serve."