As he has been for the last few years, Wawrinka was considered one of the outsiders to win this year’s men’s singles title at SW19, given he’s a three-time major winner elsewhere.
Having won every other Grand Slam on the circuit, and given he’s now 32-years-old, you’d think the days of ‘choking’or suffering some sort of mental fatigue would be a thing of the past for the Swiss star, but his 3-1 defeat on Monday afternoon perhaps showed that some psychological demons can rear their ugly head at the worst of times – regardless of experience.
Having operated as the National Performance Psychologist with the Lawn Tennis Association between 2007-09, and with the likes of Andy Murray, Laura Robson and Jo Konta off the court, Roberto Forzoni is an expert in why tennis players choke, and exactly why it happens.
The award-winning Italian performance consultant has been speaking via The Betway Insider to help give casual tennis fans more of an insight behind the psychological weight players like Warinka carry when things aren’t going to plan.
He said: “You look into the ‘what-if’ scenarios. What if I miss? What if I play badly? What is someone going to say?
“There’s a great mantra we use: control the controllables.
“Players can’t actually control the result, they can’t control the outcome of the match.
“But too often, rather than focusing on their game strategy – or a technique they’ve been working on in training – they start focusing on the scoreboard, which makes it very difficult to make any decisions.”
“If, for example, they’ve had success with a forehand down the line, but then the opponent cottons on and moves across the court, they’ve got to be able to change their strategy.
“You can only do that if you’re creative and calm in what you’re doing and thinking. That’s crucial.”
Wawrinka might have blown up a bit yesterday, but at least he can console himself with his previous Slam triumphs – who can forget the agony Tim Henman used to put the British public through at this time every year?
Well, Forzoni is convinced there’s a natural reason why British tennis player can often be mentally fragile.
He added: “With a British player, it’s probably not as competitive as, say, playing in Spain or France, where the level of competition is much higher.
“Footballers in this country have to be mentally tough from an early age because they’ll get released from clubs – competition is fierce.
“In tennis, it’s not as fierce. So if you’re half-talented you can become one of GB’s top players.
“That’s why a lot of them go to Spain or America to train, because they’re put into very competitive situations in training.
“They become more accustomed to accepting that things can go wrong and have the ability to come up with the solutions.”
So, there you have it – the next time you give your favourite player stick for choking or bottling a match, just refer yourself back to the wise words of Roberto Forzoni – and spare a thought for poor Stan throughout this week.