You all probably know that I consider my friend MO at Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant the GOAT bartender, the Greatest of All Time. But that is not the MO I am talking about right now. While watching the Australian Open recently, the GOAT in tennis, Roger Federer in my opinion, grabbed MO in the fifth and final set to win his 20th Major Tennis Championship. I am, of course, talking about MOmentum.
Tennis is an immensely taxing sport, both mentally and physically. I have played for more than 40 years, and it always amazes me how momentum comes and goes in a match. In the match I was watching, Federer came out of the blocks fast and won the first set easily. He showed no signs of early nerves like his opponent did, and momentum was clearly on Federer’s side.
The second set was really tight with both players settling into their comfort zones with only a few key points near the end of the set going the way of Marin Cilic, Federer’s opponent. It really did seem that only a handful of points made the difference in the second set. So, you’d think Cilic has the momentum now, right?
The third set starts, and the shot-making and execution all swing back to Federer’s favor. It’s like he had forgotten or at least dismissed the last set and its unfavorable outcome in just a single changeover. Athletes have that ability to move past obstacles and focus on the task ahead, especially the great athletes.
Now the fourth set begins, and it seems that Federer might have been looking ahead. He seems tentative at times, and his serve begins to really let him down. His serve, by the way, has always been one of his biggest and most dependable weapons. I have always admired how he can be down Love-30 and then serve three aces to go up 40-30. Who does that? But not this set, and MO and the fourth set go to Cilic.
Now the fun begins. Both players only need to win one set to win the title. Both players can see the finish line. Both players now seem to have extra energy to get to the end. But again, MO switches back to Federer. He’s aggressive, playing to win and not even thinking about losing. His serve comes back to him. He starts hitting his targets again and getting free points that are demoralizing to an opponent. His opponent, on the other hand, seems to play not to lose, and MO from the fourth set leaves him almost immediately. The title goes to Federer!
The next time you hit a winner, think about how you feel right in that moment. I think that is where MO lives. Confidence is a fickle thing, but I believe that the confidence you get from practice and success is what enables you to create and maintain MOmentum. Come see me at the courts, and I’ll share a few tips on creating and maintaining MO.
Tracy Townsend is a resort tennis expert and Director of Tennis at Seaside. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (850) 231-2214. For news, events and court conditions, find Seaside Tennis on Facebook.