The gap between the top players and the rest of the field is wider than ever in men's tennis. The top two players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, together account for more than 20,000 ranking points as per the most recently published ranking charts.
Former player Michael Berrer recently talked about that huge gulf, saying that Novak Djokovic and his fellow top players are "light years away" from normal players.
Young players lack the dedication of Novak Djokovic & Co, feels Michael Berrer
We have often seen lower-ranked players play the match of their lives and put the superstars on the ropes, only to lose concentration and collapse right before the finish line. A big reason for that is the difference in mental fortitude between the top players and the rest of the crop.
Michael Berrer, who has now taken up a career in sports psychology, said that he wants to find ways to make tennis players mentally stronger and bridge the gap.
Berrer also praised the best tennis player in the world - Novak Djokovic - along with the rest of the ATP front-runners, and explained why they are so far ahead of the field. The German stressed on the fact that the Big 3 of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer constantly keep evolving their game to stay ahead of the curve.
"If we look at Roger Federer , Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who have dominated men's tennis for years, you can see that they are constantly developing," Michael Berrer said. "Their game these days is very different from how they played a few years ago. They continuously question themselves and experiment in all areas. Novak Djokovic & Co. are light years away from normal players."
Berrer, who retired from professional tennis in 2016, has since worked as a corporate coach to many large companies as well as small and medium sized startups. Berrer had studied sports psychology in parallel to his tennis career, which largely helped him understand the mental aspect of the game.
Michael Berrer said that he tries his best to inculcate the values of tennis' champions and ambassadors into young players. However, he feels that the upcoming talents have too many distractions these days, which takes their focus away.
The cellphone is what the German blames the most.
"I always preach to young players: be punctual. Most come into the hall two minutes before the training session and then put their smartphone down. Ideally, the training starts on the field 40 minutes before the session. Then the cell phone is off, it just distracts. You have to pay full attention to the training, change your clothes, do an intensive warm-up. The square itself is about making perfect use of the time. You don't need talent to do all of this," Berrer said.
The 40-year-old also believes that the young players do not prepare as well as Novak Djokovic & Co do for matches. There is a misconception among them that tennis is won by belting spectacular winners and making impossible gets; they forget that most points in a match are regular points that don't involve any 'hot shots'.
Berrer asserted that Novak Djokovic and most of the top players go for percentage rather than glory most of the times, unless they are really stretched into making a hot shot. The German feels that young players should concentrate more on overall match-play rather than just aiming for winners, as tennis is a sport where the entire output wins over moments of brilliance.
To become like Novak Djokovic, you also need to have the discipline and consistency of Novak Djokovic.
"I experience that the young players only watch highlights, only the top shots. They forget that tennis is not decided by winners, but by percentage tennis. Novak Djokovic and Co. also play 80 percent through the middle or towards big goals. The ATP hot shots, however, suggest that there are only sensational strikes," Michael Berrer added.
Michael Berrer got his most famous win in his last year on the tennis tour, when he beat Rafael Nadal at the 2015 Qatar Open after coming back from a set down.Published 31 Jul 2020, 01:54 IST