If you’re like most people, you enjoyed a thrilling Superbowl game yesterday. In the meantime, Federer lost to Nadal again. Of course, if you understand (sports) psychology, you could say it was a foregone conclusion.
Say what you will about Nadal’s ability to exploit Federer’s backhand; Federer’s biggest obstacle is himself.
For years, Federer was Top Dog; in fact, you could make a convincing argument that he’s the greatest player of the modern game. He was used to winning, often breaking back (coming back from a match point to to overwhelm and eventually beat his opponent). But after Nadal beat him in their version of the Thrilla in Manila, Federer came out a different player. Sure, he’d lost before - what competitor hasn’t? - but this time, he’d given his best, multiple times - and come out the loser.
Federer’s quote at the Australian Open trophy presentation is noteworthy: “God, it’s killing me.” What competitor hasn’t felt the frustration at being unable to pull off a win because they can’t get out of their own head?
Federer is now in an interesting position - that of the hungry contender, eager to get his title (and top billing) back. But this isn’t what he’s used to. He’s not used to being second-best; he’s used to winning. And until he’s able to shrug off his self-concept of being “second-best”, that’s all he’ll be.
Do you have the mind of a winner? Are you willing to do what it takes to be Top Dog in your nutrition and exercise program? Or are you content with being “second-best?”