It’s a familiar scene, repeated over the years by first-time Grand Slam winners. Daniil Medvedev also won his first Grand Slam the day after Radukhanu and, like Dominic Thiem a year earlier, fell to the floor.
But after this euphoric moment, there seems to be a gap before reaching the top again…a second title.
Williams himself had to wait two and a half years to complete his second Grand Slam.
“Unparalleled Depth of Confidence”
Along with Williams, tennis has been dominated for 20 years by players who seem harder to lose than to win. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic.
Winning more than one Grand Slam has become the norm, and even the expectedness somewhat masks the difficulty of winning your first Grand Slam.
Tennis is a solitary individual sport that requires traveling across different time zones and environments for 10 months of the year, and the psychological pressure of completing a Grand Slam is unlike any other sport. .
“However [when] It’s just one-on-one, looking left and right and realizing you’re alone. It requires a deep confidence like no other. “
As Eurosport expert and former world No. 7 Barbara Shett told CNN, much of playing tennis is “actually It’s what’s in your head.
Winning creates a virtuous cycle that builds confidence and builds confidence that unfolds at key points in close matches.
“When I was in the top 10, I walked out on the court and thought, ‘I’m not going to lose this match. I’m never going to stand a chance,'” Shett said. I can only imagine how the legends of our game will feel when they step onto the court. ”
Shett faced Williams three times in his career, but never beat her. The last time they played against her was at the 2003 French Open, where Shett lost her 6-0 6-0.
“Her presence on the court was so unbelievable that I had already lost the match before I faced her,” recalls Shett.
“How can I beat this girl? She’s much better physically. She plays harder. She believes in herself. And I’d rather go to the locker room.” ”
But winning can lead to a feeling of not only invincibility, but also failure-prone, creating a new set of expectations and goals to consider.
“Perfection does not exist”
After Radukhanu won the US Open, pundits rushed to hail her as a future multiple Grand Slam winner because of her powerful groundstrokes and consistently aggressive serve returns.
A series of injuries ruined Radukhanu’s first year on tour with blisters, back problems, side strains and hip injuries, forcing him to withdraw from various tournaments throughout the season.
Since her magical two weeks in New York, Radukhanu has made three Grand Slam appearances, only to reach the second round and lose to players below her on every occasion.
“There are a lot of expectations placed on her from the outside,” says Shett. “Obviously she wants to win one more. Expectations are very high.”
It was a solid, if unremarkable, season for the 19-year-old in his first year on the WTA Tour, but the stratospheric expectations surrounding the Brit reframed every loss as something akin to a catastrophic failure.
“That satiety point”
Goals and expectations change in the aftermath of major victories like Grand Slam titles.
Since winning his first Grand Slam at the 2020 US Open, Dominic Thiem has followed a similar trajectory to Raducane, plummeting from the top tier of the game to No. 352 in the world rankings.
A lingering wrist injury prevented him from accepting his new status as a Grand Slam winner.
“But in tennis everything goes very fast. You don’t have time to enjoy winning. If you’re not 100% you lose. That happened to me this year.”
To illustrate the psychological impact of achieving a primary goal, Spencer likens it to a more mundane experience: eating.
“When I’m hungry, I do whatever it takes to get food,” he says. “And when you reach the satiety point where you feel full, you can’t take another bite and you don’t want to eat anything for a while.”
“And it’s very normal and natural, just like an athlete can go a little sluggish for a while after eating a big meal and winning something really important.”
The emotional cost of elite sports is becoming more apparent year after year, as athletes begin to speak openly about mental health and its importance.
Meanwhile, Eiga Spheretec praised sports psychologist Daria Abramovich for her role in winning the 2020 French Open.
“Many, many things happened”
Managing the “emotional energy” that sports depletes is key to recalibrating an athlete’s goals and expectations, explains Spencer.
Thiem is starting to rebuild after a year in the wilderness, winning the first round of the Båstad Open against Finland’s Emir Ruthvuori in July 2022 to win his first ATP Tour match in 14 months. Did.
“So many things happened. It was tough, but I think it was a very good experience for my life in general. I’m very happy to get my first win here today.”
In recent weeks, Radukhanu has also shown flickers of the form that propelled her to tennis stardom at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati with wins over Williams and Victoria Azarenka before losing to Jessica Pegula in the third round. was She will play against top 10 players.
She will begin her title defense in the first round of the US Open against Alize Cornetto. Meanwhile, Thiem will also be entering the tournament for the first time since winning, and will face Pablo Carreño’s Busta.