How to Win a Tennis Match Against a Better Player (6 Tips!)

It’s not uncommon to see a sharp player lose a match to a beginner. This was evident in the 2013 Wimbledon games, where Sharapova, Nadal, and other major players lost to newcomers. 

These unexpected wins can be more than a coincidence. Everyone plays to win, and you can do it too. To get that final match point you need more than just skill, you need a strategy. 

Here’s how to win a tennis match against a better player, all of these are tried and tested ways.  

1. Find The One Move

Your opponent might be better than you in almost everything, but the operative word here is ‘almost’. Find the one thing they’re weak at, or the one you’re good at, or both!

This is a classic move every tennis player knows, but only the elite players apply. It’s a skill that you build up with time and determination. 

There’s a concept in business called SWOT analysis, where you assess your Strengths, Weaknesses, and anticipate Opportunities and Threats. 

That’s exactly what you need to do in the current game. The ‘one move’ is how Federer, Serena Williams, and Djokovic win their matches.   

2. Be Consistent 

The more you can hit back the ball with regularity and consistency, the higher the odds that your opponent would make a mistake. 

Consistency means that you don’t take unnecessary risks, and practice the concept of economy in your movements. This will help you in staying steady long enough to see the other player miss:

3. Be Physically Fit ????

Tennis is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. Building muscle is usually coupled with building confidence. You need both in the match.

Physical fitness has many aspects, and one of the critical ones is muscle memory. Repetition makes champions, the more you practice a certain skill, the more automated it becomes: 

You stop thinking about it later on, and your serve or drop shot success rate becomes more hits than misses. This frees up your mind for observing your opponents and reading their game plan. 

4. Practice Mental Toughness

You could be the lesser player in terms of consistency or physical fitness, but if you have mental toughness you place yourself at an advantage:

Regular players usually train their muscle power, but it’s very rare to find players who train mindset. It’s an area that you can excel in. You should learn how to use it for leverage over the other player. 

Bjorn Borg is considered one of the best players in the history of tennis. He had many outstanding traits, but staying calm under pressure is the most prominent.  

This easily earned him the nickname Iceman or Ice-Borg. Most of his matches had tipping points where he could’ve lost his temper, but didn’t. The opposite usually happens to his opponents. 

5. Focus on The Next Point

It’s normal to be distressed after missing a point, but what happens next decides the outcome of the game. Losing concentration, trying too hard, and taking unnecessary risks are sure ways to lose. 

Re-focusing is a skill not many people have. Repeating a mantra to yourself could help, or just forgetting about the lost opportunity and putting all your thinking in the next one.

Emotions aren’t very clever when they take the reins, you’re better off when your mind controls your emotions.

6. Capitalize on Your Wins

Once you’ve achieved your first big-win, look at it as the first step along the road of victory. You could also view it as an odd occurrence. 

The first mindset sets you up for more wins. It creates the hype that you just climbed Mount Everest, and the next player you meet should watch out. The second neutralizes your win.    

Winning a hard match affects you positively by building up your confidence, this alone increases the possibility of successive victories. 

Analyzing the match is an essential part of capitalizing on your wins. This will give you useful insights on what you do right, and how you overcame your weaker points. 

Finally, don’t forget the confidence you gain by being clear on the rules. Check out some articles from our Rules Series:

To Wrap it All Up

Good outcomes in sports are like survival in nature. You have to be stronger, faster, and smarter than the others. Spending some time at the gym gives you the first two. 

Being smart, however, is the deciding factor. Winning is 80% strategy and 20% fitness. These figures are off the cuff, but we all know they’re right. 

Remember your strengths, know your weaknesses, and read your opponent accurately. Stay focused, chill like ‘Ice-Borg’, and always think about the next ball. 

Playing a tennis match with a better player is how you grow as an athlete. This is not just in sports. It’s the same thing in life, work, and even love. Challenges take us to the next level. 

Interestingly, the same rules of winning apply to all of these fields.