The original article is published HERE.
Dominic – I have been keeping up with all the tournaments and matches, as always, because The Tennis Channel is what’s on at my house about 12 hours every day I was heartbroken about your loss to del Potro at the U.S. Open and last night read an online article where you talked about how long it has taken you to get over that loss…. I don’t know if you have noticed, but until he played Federer in the final at Basel, del Potro feigned some kind of illness/pain/injury in EVERY MATCH he played. There needs to be a rule. Either you are well enough to play, or you get off the court. Period. Alas, that’s not how it works I will never have a high opinion of del Potro again. EVER. How he has handled himself with these “injuries” and the times he has been given “two little white pills” on court during matches just makes me sick (no pun intended).
I have been doing a lot of thinking about where you are in your career — and your LIFE (which is far more important, yet inextricably bound to your career!) and how hard that U.S. Open loss was on you, and as dumb as this sounds, I want to make a few observations:
First, tennis is a game of GEOMETRY and PHYSICS. It’s all about angles and velocity. Period. You study those angles and velocities and you work on muscle memory in terms of reacting to every kind of angle/velocity, and your game will improve tremendously.
Second, the human brain is (or was until now) The Ultimate Super Computer. By this, I mean that whether you are aware of it or not, how fast your brain is able to process the speed and angle of tennis balls coming at you is THE difference between success and failure. When analysts talk about how “fast” Agassi or Federer could see a ball, THAT’s what they are talking about. Therefore, feeding your brain is KEY to its function. Eggs are the best source of the all important acetylocholin — The Ultimate Brain Food – but not the only brain food you need. So, I hope your coaches are FEEDING YOUR BRAIN – literally. If you study Tom Brady (NFL football quarterback), he has for YEARS talked about the importance of feeding your body what it truly needs to withstand the life a professional athlete must live. You do what Brady does and you will see ULTIMATE results.
Third, mental acuity CAN BE IMPROVED through certain visual tests and “games”. This is 100% certain. if you improve your mental acuity/agility the mental acuity exercises, then your brain will be far better able to process the angle/velocity of tennis balls coming at you, resulting in more accuracy and success.
Fourth, you do not know this (I don’t think), but you are a VERY handsome young man. And as much as I hate to admit it, even I know that how you LOOK can and does affect HOW YOU FEEL. Therefore, I don’t know who at Adidas has been designing the clothing you wear, but they are making you (and others who are sponsored by Adidas) look like five year old American children!!! These outfits are just SO YUCK. You are AUSTRIAN for Christ’s sake (!) The ultimate in intelligence and sophistication!! You should (and can) look like a Ralph Lauren model playing The Ultimate Tennis — incredible looks trumped only your incredible talent. You have INCREDIBLE hair. Seriously. Freaking gorgeous incredible hair. USE IT. Wear your hair a bit longer as it was at the U.S. Open. You go from a 1 to a 10 just based on your gorgeous hair (!) Allow yourself to be the HANDSOME YOUNG MAN you are
Fifth, for whatever reason, you seem to suffer from uber humility to the point of detriment…. I watched you very closely when you all won The Laver Cup. At the celebration, you were SO RETICENT to be the main point of attention, hold the trophy, etc….. Your body language SPOKE VOLUMES and it made me so sad…. Alexander Zverev BASKS in the limelight – he CRAVES it and is ENERGIZED by it; you shy away from it….. You cannot aspire to be the World No. 1 tennis player and NOT be able to accept, if not bask in and be energized by, the LIMELIGHT. Your body language at The Laver Cup seemed to say “I know I’m a great player, but I don’t belong HERE….” This cannot continue!!! You DO BELONG AT THE TOP, but you must now make CHANGES that manifest the PHYSICAL SIDE of KNOWING you belong at the TOP. Do you know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Your body is changing… Your mind is going to dark places and I have seen fear in your eyes during matches. I have been there. I have felt that panic as things start to slip away from you. That’s why I ultimately quit playing tennis.
I quit playing tennis because I had to finally admit that I did not have the MENTAL TOUGHNESS to continue. And once I did that, I ultimately found my happiness in other places in my life. Your mental toughness will improve as you WIN and you will WIN when you take your training — MENTAL and PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL — to the next level, i.e.., a place where you have not been before. If you have to “change your game” in order to be more effective on the court, then DO NOT BE AFRAID TO DO THAT because you have the ULTIMATE ACE IN THE HOLE: You have AMAZING NATURAL GOD GIVEN TALENT!!!!! The more you CHANGE your game – the more you re-wire your brain and your mental acuity. THAT will be the BIGGEST GAME CHANGER in your career. I can promise you that!!! I think the world of you, Dominic Thiem. I am old now (57), but you remind me of my father, who went to Heaven in 1995. A tremendously gifted athlete, but one whose humility often prevented him from reaching the very top in his athleticism…. That must not happen to you. We KNOW that one can have great humility and Ultimate Talent. Thank God Roger Federer has finally PROVEN that to us all. God speed to you, Dominic Thiem. MILLIONS of us are ALWAYS rooting for you to WIN!! WIN!! WIN!!!
I really love your perfect phrase: “Streaming love” …. that is EXACTLY what Dominic needs…. I can’t remember which tournament it was, but Kristina Mladenovic was shown by the tv crew several times sitting in Dominic’s box and the commentator noted that they are friends…. just this little tidbit made me SMILE. I think fear is playing a bigger and bigger part in Dominic’s mindset…. The harder he fights that fear through typical means (i.e., more training, more focus, etc.), the more damage will be done. Once the fear creeps in, the ONLY FIX is to get away from your own mind by bringing completely different forces – like love, companionship, laughter, travel, change up the visuals (!), etc. – into your life. When you break down mentally as an athlete, you always tend to think you need to hold on HARDER, but the exact opposite is true: Your brain is telling you “LET GO, I’m TAPPED OUT !!!!!” I know that I don’t know anything about Dominic, but every fiber in my being says it’s time for him to make a SHARP RIGHT TURN and make some major changes – to his look, his dress, his amount of time spent on court…. he needs to feel good about his LIFE and FULFILLMENT in other areas – e.g., what Roger Federer found via his wife and children (not saying that is the ONLY way to get it done, but you know what I mean) – and then come back to tennis with a fresh mind and fresh body and some kind of emotional support that provides the mental sanity and assuredness he needs when the ebb and flow of a match starts to feel like it is slipping away. I have never seen anybody other than Federer fight through match points like Dominic did several times this past year. I mean, match points AGAINST HIM and his mind said NO WAY and he PLAYED BETTER!!! It was SERIOUSLY AMAZING, but something awful happened when he lost that five setter to del Potro (THE SICK FAKER) at the U.S. Open…. If Dominic does not do something MAJOR to shift his brain from that loss, it is going to become a permanent fixture in his brain and then he’s done….. He is ASTOUNDINGLY talented; he is CRAZY GREAT handsome; he is AMAZINGLY humble and kind…. He deserves to be the next Roger Federer….. He can do it. But HE has to do it and that means GROWING UP and BEING BRAVE to maximize his gorgeous looks, his astounding play, gain sponsorships (because next to Federer, who could possibly be a better more honorable spokesman for ANY product?) and BECOME COMFORTABLE with the spotlight that comes with being the World’s Best Tennis Player
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