5 Things You Can Learn From Federer and Nadal

Photo: Mark Dadswell/AP
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are two of the best tennis players the world has seen.

And their efforts to reach the No. 1 spot in the world have resulted in some of the best matches in tennis history.

Here are five things you can learn from each player--mental, tactical, technical and physical tips--to help take your game to a higher level.

Roger Federer

1. Have a game plan. That means you have a general strategy and additional plan B or even C. Your opponent may also get used to your shots or patterns of play and eventually you'll need to change them.

2. Understand that there is nothing you can control. Roger does a good job of converting break points, but sometimes his opponent does an even better job to counter his efforts. It's possible for Roger to force the break points too much, risking more than he risked before when he created them. Combine his high risks with his opponent's high percentage play and it's obvious why Roger isn't able to convert.

This is the major reason why Federer can lose. He has to take chances and his opponent doesn't. In the long term the statistics don't work for you.

3. Never give up. Not even on the last point. The most amazing come back that I remember was when Chanda Rubin came back from 0:5, 0:40 in the third set to beat Jana Novotna in the 1995 French Open. She saved 9 match points and eventually won 8:6 in the third set. Federer never gives up, believing he can still pull off a win up to the final match point.

4. It's not always your fault. Roger realizes that he cannot play his best tennis all the time and gives credit to his opponents for being able to play at a high level for a longer period of time. Appreciate your opponent's skills and work on improving your own even more.

5. Believe in yourself. Even if the current situation shows that you are not the winner, that doesn't mean you'll never be. Keep trying, keep fighting.

Roger Federer lost 14 times in the first round of the ATP in the year 2000. Many players would lose faith in themselves after so many loses, but not Federer.

Rafael Nadal

1. Use your weapons and try to control the point. Nadal has this simple game plan for his service games: serve to the backhand side, try to control the point with forehand. What plan do you have after your serve? Hit the ball?

2. Confidence doesn't only come from the mind, it comes from your body, too. Nadal is not afraid to play long matches. On the contrary, he is so confident in his fitness level that he feels he is even better than than the majority of his opponents.

How do you get to this belief? Work harder than other players on the physical part of the game. Get your edge anywhere you can.

One more thing: Working hard has nothing to do with your talent. Perhaps you will face more talented players in your career but you can still beat them. Working hard is 99 percent of your success.

3. Keep improving, never become totally satisfied with your level. You think your forehand is good? Can you compare to Nadal's backhand? Surely not, and yet he continues to improve upon it, putting in hours and hours to perfect it.

4. Calm down on the big points. Your emotions will try to take over, don't let that happen. Take time, breathe and focus on your game plan.

5. Focus on your performance not the outcome. Nadal is under a lot of pressure if he listens to other people. He realizes that and just focuses on himself and his level play. He knows that he cannot control the outcome but he can control his effort.

This is why Nadal is not nervous during a big tennis match and big points. He is not worried about winning or losing, he thinks only about giving his best and that which is within his control.

Tomaz Menzinger is the tennis coach and mental training coach at the Tennis Academy of Asia. His video series on How to Play Tennis offers beginners a solid foundation in tennis fundamentals to start playing tennis correctly.

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