A lot has already been said about this match. The amazing first 2 sets, the ups and downs of Novak, his sudden awakening, his bizarre shaky legs, Andy’s anger and relentless talking … etc. But beyond the armchair analysis what do we really learn from this 2015 Australian Open final? First we have to remember the quality and level of both players’ game during the tournament. Their consistency is a model. Their ability to raise their level when it counts the most took them to the final. But during this final they were finally playing against someone truly challenging their physical skills. Because they move each other so well, because of the intensity present in each point, each shot – both players faced a new challenge, with an advantage for Novak who knew he can play 6 hours and win as he showed against Rafael Nadal 2 years ago.
We could talk forever about Andy’s inability to stay focus and keep calm after the 2nd set when Novak showed some signs of fatigue. Did Novak exagerate his physical issue in order to add some drama and get into Andy’s head? Was it just a trick to break Andy’s momentum? The truth is … it doesn’t matter! After two intense sets played in more than 2.5 hours, fatigue entered the game. Despite his amazing fitness showed throughout the tournament, Andy’s efforts to win the second set had some dramatic consequences. Instead of surfing on the positive wave created by the second set win, Andy fell very quickly in a frustration and negative mode. Then, he wasn’t able to have this awareness of what was going on. He just stayed there – in this negative field, until the end. Yes the pressure is huge and only someone who lived the same experience can have an idea of what’s going on in their heads. However, Andy already handled the same type of pressure – even higher – especially until he won Wimbledon. So what was different in this match?
What made Andy suddenly forget what he learnt from Ivan Lendl and Amelie Mauresmo, forget what he learnt from his own experience of the big event? It may look too simple but the main factor that took Andy away from his game, from the victory, was … his body. Novak took him away of his physical comfort zone. Though it wasn’t totally new for him, the relentless defense of Novak, forcing him to play an extra shot every time, the quality of the serve placement ended up causing major troubles for Andy. Of course Andy is fit, amazingly fit. However very early in the match he looked more affected than Novak after the long rallies (several times +25 shots).
What happened just reminds us that mind and body are one. They are not connected. They are One. It doesn’t make any sense to work on the mental toughness without working on the physical side. If your body has a down time – even a short one – it becomes very hard to cope with stress, to handle strong emotions, to keep your mind in the present and positive. Andy’s mind just went directly to the first open window: Novak’s strange behavior, attitude or fatigue. It could have been a bad call or anything external. The natural tendency of the mind is to wander, to shift to external events and things, especially when our body lets us down. When it happens, even if you are Andy Murray, the power of this conditioning is so strong that you drift into the irrational and uncontrollable world of thoughts. Yesterday, Andy wasn’t able to come back and refocus. Maybe he will next time. He may learn from this experience and be prepared to any physical down time and sudden arrival of negative or irrational thoughts. Having a plan for the same type of situation is the key. As he already experienced it he can now work on training his mind to stay in control. To do this he has to look at all his emotions, positive and negative – be honest with himself and build another behaviour. However, this work cannot be done at the conscious level where the analysis and judgment will always take place. He has to change his beliefs and attitude at the subconscious level because that’s the subconscious mind that will always come up when life will bring the extra challenge. It’s not about to repress emotions and negativity – that what may happened with Ivan Lendl mentoring. It’s about changing the beliefs and old pattern deeply anchored in the subconscious mind which drive 90% of our life.
Jim Courier said that Andy was more himself – he was like that – which meant not controlling his emotion, angry, and negative. But that’s not true. Lendl started to do a good job – but it seems that was not enough – Andy’s subconcious still carries certain old patterns about frustration, anger …etc. that he still links to himself, thinking that’s him – that’s who I am. But when the old patterns are not so good – we can change them! Maybe he will do it. Easier said than done! But that’s possible. The good news is that these players are not robots – they have some weaknesses and imperfections and that’s what we love in this game, isn’t it?