How To Beat A Bogey Opponent

How To Beat A Bogey Opponent


Can Dimitrij beat the Dictator? Is there anything he can do differently?

We all know what a great player Ma Long is and he has a winning h-h against all the top players, but Ovtcharov is truly world class and surely must be dissatisfied with a 0 v 17 (15-65 in sets) record against him.

Today, our article focusses on some tips that we hope may help you defeat that ‘Bogey Player’.

It was the year end Masters Tournament at Madison Square Gardens in 1979 when Vitas Gerulaitis issued his famous quote ‘Let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beat Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row!’ ‘The Lithuanian Lion’ had lost his previous 16 encounters against Jimmy Connors but by all accounts he firmly believed he had a chance of beating him this time as he did the first time they met.

Gerulaitis will probably be remembered more for this great quip rather than his achievements on the Tennis Court which is a shame. He won a major, 26 titles and reached #3 in the world during an era with Borg, Connors and McEnroe who are probably 3 of the best players ever to play the game. Ironically, Vitas Gerulaitis lost 17 times in a row to his great friend and rival Bjorn Borg but never stopped trying to find ways to beat him, the cool Swede was just too good in all departments.

The most inspiring thing about this great Lithuanian was that he never showed weakness, he played with fight, spirit and positivity, and he never stopped believing in himself. Vitas Gerulaitis, by all accounts, achieved all he could in the game, in fact, probably more and this is what he should be remembered for. Gerulaitis died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, aged 40.

Gerulaitis, like many of us, had a few bogey opponents, but what is a bogey opponent? We would describe this as a player who we have a good chance of beating but loses to more times than not. We also have opponents who we just don’t like playing, their style doesn’t match up to ours or maybe their body language irritates us and effects the performance and hence the result. The question is, how can you defeat this player? Or how can you make the experience more enjoyable for yourself? Remember, Gerulaitis took every defeat on the chin, played with a smile on his face and came back believing he could win! What a great mental place to be!

Here are 8 TTFits ways to help achieve this:

1. You have nothing to lose so try something new, surprise your opponent with some different tactics.

2. Journal your key opponents, keep notes on their strengths and weaknesses, how to you win points against them, analyse past matches and take action.

3. Picture yourself beating this opponent in your mind, visualise their frustration, and finally, imagine the euphoria when getting the win!

4. Focus also on yourself, your mentality and attitude. Yes, you need tactics to win but you also need the right mindset and calmness. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!

5. Show no weakness before, during, and after the match. No head shaking, no bad mouthing yourself, no swearing and take all defeats like a champion, let your opponent know you will come back stronger!

6. Take your time before every point, practice some routines and stick to them no matter what the score. Think about your tactics and focus on playing one point at a time.

7. During the match, stay calm, think about what is working and what isn’t, don’t give up, accept and embrace the challenge, what’s the worst that can happen!!

8. Remember, you may not win but this isn’t the point. If your opponent (like Borg, McEnroe to Gerulaitis) is better than you then they will prove it on the table but everyone can improve. All you have to do is give 100%, play your best and learn things that will help you to improve your game.

Finally, I wonder if Dimitrij Ovtcharov has a Gerulaitis type quip at the ready for Ma Long, maybe he should seek out Wang Hao for advice!!

‘Feats always seem impossible until they are done!’

Allen Robson


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