This year’s men’s final at Wimbledon was one of the most exciting tennis matches I’ve ever seen.
If you didn’t see it, the match pitted Roger Federer, winner of 17 Grand Slam titles and crowd favorite, against Novak Djokovic, winner of 7 Grand Slams.
It was truly an epic match with a constant back and forth between Roger and Novak including several tie breaks and ultimately going to five sets. After nearly losing to Novak in the fourth round, Roger made an amazing comeback with a 7-5 win. But in the end, Novak Djokovic took the fifth set 6-4 to win the Wimbledon title.
Just after the win, Novak was interviewed about the game and how close he came to winning in the fourth set. The interviewer asked how he was able to pull himself together when it appeared Federer (who is notoriously calm under pressure) was about to come back strong after being on the brink of defeat.
Novak said that during a bathroom break, he used visualization, mindfulness, and positive self-talk to boost himself mentally and maintain the focus he needed to ultimately win the game. In fact, he uses these techniques off the court as well to help him become the number one tennis player in the world.
In his book, Serve to Win, Novak says he uses mindfulness meditation to overcome self-doubt and recover more quickly from mistakes. It’s also helped him become one of the greatest comeback players of all time.
Novak says by practicing mindfulness meditation, he now simply notices negative thoughts and allows them to pass by. He is able to focus fully on the present moment, noticing any physical pain or negative emotions without getting tangled up in his thoughts.
In the interview after his Wimbledon win, he said he reminded himself to just be present for each action of the match and to enjoy where he was and what he was doing. He credits his success as world class athlete to the mental toughness fostered by mindfulness.