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US Open: Why is it so difficult to win a second grand slam

It was a well-recognized scene, one repeated all through the years by first-time grand slam winners; Daniil Medvedev additionally fell to the ground as he received his maiden grand slam a day after Raducanu, as did Dominic Thiem a 12 months earlier than that.

However after this euphoric second, there typically appears to be a niche earlier than that pinnacle will be reached once more — 34 of the 45 first-time grand slam winners since 2000 have endured a wait of a minimum of a 12 months for an additional, in the event that they received a second title in any respect.

Williams herself needed to wait two-and-a-half years to win her second grand slam.

‘Depth of self-belief in contrast to the rest’

Alongside Williams, tennis has been dominated for 20 years by gamers for whom shedding appears tougher than profitable — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Successful significantly multiple grand slam has change into normalized, even anticipated, considerably obscuring the difficulties of claiming that first one.

A then 18-year-old Emma Raducanu won the 2021 US Open without dropping a set.

In tennis, a lonely particular person sport requiring fixed journey for 10 months of the 12 months throughout totally different time zones and environments, the psychological strain of profitable a grand slam is totally different in comparison with different sports activities.

“Plenty of instances when there’s social assist, I look to my left, I look to my proper, I see my teammate to present me a fist pump … That kind of social assist can go a very great distance for a person to handle efficiency anxiousness,” sports activities psychologist Dr Jarrod Spencer explains to CNN Sport.

“However [when] it is simply one-on-one, you look to your left and your proper and also you understand that you simply’re alone. That requires a depth of self-belief that’s in contrast to the rest.”

And with a novel scoring system that creates jeopardy on nearly each level, a lot of enjoying tennis is “really up within the head,” as Eurosport knowledgeable and former world No. 7 Barbara Schett tells CNN.

Successful would appear to create a virtuous circle, deepening self-belief which in flip builds confidence to be deployed at essential factors in tight matches.

“After I was high 10,” Schett says, “I used to be on the stage the place I went on the courtroom and I believed, ‘I am not going to lose this match. There’s completely no likelihood.’ I can solely think about how … the legends of our recreation would really feel after they’re stepping on the courtroom.”

Schett performed Williams thrice in her profession and by no means defeated her. They met for the final time on the French Open in 2003 and Schett misplaced 6-0 6-0.

Barbara Schett played Serena Williams during the third round of the French Open.

“I had already misplaced the match earlier than I performed towards her as a result of her presence on the courtroom was simply unbelievable,” Schett recollects.

“I simply felt like, ‘How am I going to beat this woman? She’s bodily so a lot better. She performs a lot more durable. She believes in herself. And I had higher simply go to the locker room.'”

However profitable can result in a way of fallibility in addition to invincibility, creating a brand new set of expectations and targets to be reckoned with.

‘Perfection does not exist’

Within the aftermath of Raducanu’s US Open triumph, pundits rushed to hail her as a future a number of grand slam winner on account of her highly effective groundstrokes and persistently aggressive return of serve.

She gathered sponsor after sponsor and PR consultants branded her with the potential to change into Britain’s first billion-dollar sport star.
“Everybody simply anticipated me to win each single event I used to be ever going to play once more. It’s kind of unrealistic as a result of perfection simply does not exist,” Raducanu stated in a recent interview with Nike.

A succession of accidents has marred Raducanu’s first full 12 months on tour with blisters, again points, facet strains and hip accidents all forcing her to withdraw from numerous tournaments all through the season.

Emma Raducanu played, and defeated, Serena Williams two weeks ago in Cincinnati.

In her three grand slam appearances since these magical two weeks in New York, Raducanu has reached simply the second spherical, falling to gamers ranked decrease than her each time.

“There’s lots of expectation externally on her,” Schett says. “Clearly, she desires to win one other one. She desires to show to all people that she wasn’t a at some point marvel or a two week marvel and that she will do extra, however the strain and the expectations are extraordinarily excessive in her case.”

For a 19-year-old competing in her first 12 months on the WTA Tour, it has been a strong, if unremarkable season, however the stratospheric expectations surrounding the Brit have reframed each loss as one thing resembling a catastrophic failure.

‘That time of satiation’

Targets, in addition to expectations, alter within the aftermath of a serious victory like a grand slam title.

Dominic Thiem has skilled an identical trajectory to Raducanu since profitable his maiden grand slam on the 2020 US Open, plummeting out of the higher echelons of the sport to a rating as little as world No. 352.

A lingering wrist damage hampered the Austrian, as did coming to phrases together with his new standing as a grand slam winner.

“Once you struggle for a aim, you allow the whole lot for it and also you obtain it, the whole lot modifications,” Thiem advised the Austrian newspaper Der Standard in April 2021.

“Nevertheless, in tennis, the whole lot goes very quick, you do not have time to benefit from the victory, and if you’re not 100%, you lose. It occurred to me this 12 months.”

Dominic Thiem celebrates winning the 2020 US Open final against Alexander Zverev.

To clarify the psychological results of reaching a serious aim, Spencer compares it to a extra on a regular basis expertise — consuming.

“Once you’re hungry, you may do no matter it takes to get some meals,” he says. “After which when you attain that time of satiation the place you simply really feel full, then it is like, I am unable to eat one other chew, I do not need something for fairly a while.”

“And so it’s extremely regular and pure, identical to consuming a giant meal that generally an athlete, after they win one thing actually important would possibly simply lose just a little little bit of drive for a short while.”

The emotional prices of elite sport have gotten extra evident yearly as athletes start to speak overtly about psychological well being and its significance.

On the French Open final 12 months, four-time grand slam winner Naomi Osaka withdrew to protect her mental health after a furor erupted following her refusal to conduct post-match press conferences.
Afterwards, she revealed that she had “suffered lengthy bouts of despair” and “large waves of hysteria” since her first grand slam triumph in 2018.

Iga Swiatek, in the meantime, hailed her sports activities psychologist Daria Abramowicz for the function that she performed serving to her win the French Open in 2020.

‘Many, many issues have occurred’

Managing the “emotional vitality” which sport depletes is vital to recalibrating an athlete’s targets and expectations, Spencer explains.

Thiem has begun to rebuild after his 12 months within the wilderness, profitable his first ATP Tour match in 14 months with a victory within the first spherical towards of the Bastad Open towards Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori in July 2022.

“My final victory was in Rome in 2021, it seems like a special world by some means,” he stated afterwards, according to the BBC.

“Many, many issues occurred. It was robust, nevertheless it was additionally an excellent expertise, I feel, for all times usually. I am so glad that I received this primary victory right here at the moment.”

Dominic Thiem reached the quarterfinal of the Austrian Open in July this year.

In current weeks, Raducanu too has proven sparkles of the shape that propelled her to tennis stardom with victories towards Williams and Victoria Azarenka on the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati earlier than she misplaced to Jessica Pegula within the third spherical — simply her second ever match towards a high 10 participant.

She’s going to face Alizé Cornet within the first spherical of the US Open as she begins her title protection, whereas Thiem — additionally showing on the event for the primary time since profitable it — will play Pablo Carreño Busta.

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