Almost my entire last year and the first part of this year were a huge disappointment for me. I had never worked harder in my life and had never lost more matches in my life. As a junior player, I was used to winning almost 90 percent of the time. I rarely went a month without winning a big tournament. I never expected that to change. This constant winning required hard work, but nothing compared to the level of work I started putting in when I was trying to make the transition from the juniors to the pros.
For the longest time, it seemed liked no amount of hard work was helping at all. I couldn't catch a break to save my life and as the losses piled up, I started to get incredibly negative and frustrated. And, of course, the more I wanted to win, the more I couldn't win. I finally realized that I was pushing way too hard for success. Winning had always come naturally to me and this new drive of mine was preventing me from playing as freely as I had always played in the past.
To fix the situation, I set about reminding myself every day that my hard work would pay off eventually and that I wasn't on a timetable for success. I took the word "should" [i.e. I should be doing better than I am right now] out of my vocabulary and have never used it again. Most importantly, I went back to enjoying tennis the way I used to and the results have followed. I'm playing the best tennis of my life right now and love the game more than ever.
I know there will be tough times going forward, but when that happens I won't panic. I will stay positive and work hard just the same as I always do and things will turn around.
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