Winning a match two sets down or entering a major semi-final is something that Roger Federer has done several times before. But not at 34, not when he is the ‘oldest’ man to do so since Ken Rosewall in 1974.
Looking at the manner in which Federer clawed back to win his quarter-final match against Marin Cilic 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3, was akin to being almost pushed over an abyss and then pulled back after a long while. And hope flickered a little higher in his fans who want him to hold aloft his eighth title at Wimbledon.
After a title drought for almost a year, suffering from a knee injury that required surgery to recurring back pains; withdrawing from the French Open citing breaking his record of 65 consecutive Grand Slam appearances, Federer was at Wimbledon doing something everyone hoped for, but few believed – win a marathon five-setter and reach the semi-finals.
What makes 'old’ man Federer hang on and emerge a winner, especially when the chips are down? What is it that differentiates a winner from his opponent who matches him on all counts and wins a few sets over him?
Here are some life lessons from the Federer-Cilic match, decoded by life coaches Shalini Verma – a professional certified coach from the International Coach Federation and Founder, The Sky Scrapers Academy and Milind Jadhav – certified life coach, author and speaker.
Mental Toughness: It is the one quality that can help an individual turn a negative into a positive. This is a special magic every one of us has, but a champ like Federer dips into it when he is facing losses.
Resilience: That is the ability to stretch and adapt without breaking up. How do you develop resilience? Though self-talk. When the chips are down, most people give up. People like Federer give their 100 percent till the very end. When you do that, you feel great about yourself, you feel like a winner irrespective of whether you actually won or lost the match. With that kind of attitude, the results usually go in your favour.
Courage and tenacity: There are no short cuts taken by people who chase excellence. For that, you need to have courage to work at your goal persistently right from the start. Rough it out. It is about a choice an individual makes. In Federer’s case, to come and play at Wimbledon, and surprise himself, too. “I was very worried coming here. Yes, I did surprise myself, in quite a big way, actually,” he had said after he won the match. He went beyond the boundaries his mind created.
Emotional Quotient: It is easy to predict who will emerge the winner when you look at the body language of the competitors. When you are in the crucial set in the make-or-break point, emotions are high. What matters then is the magnitude and presence of the player. The one who demonstrates calmness even when the pool is turbid is the one in control.
Flexibility: Do you have the ability to adapt yourself? That tells a lot about your mental toughness. Circumstances may not be the way you have visualised it, but do you have the presence of mind to accept what you are dealt with now and overcome it?
Power of visualisation: That is the starting point when you win it or lose it. It is about mental strength. It is an incredibly important element for winning at anything. Visualise everything to the minute detail, including the results. Play it all out in advance and many times over. You do this so that the picture gets absorbed in the subconscious. This is the pull factor — to transcend beyond the physical circumstances. So when the mind wants to veer you away stating the body is tired, the subconscious pulls you back to the task at hand.
Anyone can do it: To begin with, make success a habit. Commit to something small and make it a success. Then take up something bigger and succeed at that. Keep doing this and you will develop a success pattern. Get used to success as a way of life. There is really no such thing as a failure. There are no failures, only outcomes.