Posted on Leave a comment

How the 2024 French Open separated Top 10 Tennis Players and closed the Gap between Others plus lessons for the 2024 Olympics

As the red clay settles and the noise becomes that little bit quieter, the grass beckons for those who have had time for their losses to settle and tackle a new surface with renewed hope of a better performance. Yet the tide is still high for the Champions of the 2024 French Open as their new silverware finds a new place to call home. For whilst there are only two who left triumphant with these titles, there are many more who should indeed be proud of their accomplishments to performances that really should signal a highlight of their 2024 season.

The Champions are known and yet there were some surprises. Recall that anomalies do exist and this Roland Garros was no exception. Sure, there have been much greater anomalies but the ones this French Open were not as shocking as perhaps some may have had you believe. Andreeva had been progressing and if Grand Slam statistics were to be gauged, this was almost expected – a Round of 16 in contrast to a semi-final but then again, the nerves to the health of her opponents simply can’t be collated and they’re akin to environmental factors that happen to the best.

Of course, Sabalenka was favoured to progress to the Finals to have a third straight showdown against Swiatek and to really battle it out for their next respective Grand Slam title. But again, the data favoured Swiatek almost all season as Sabalenka’s performance only started to ‘track’ come Madrid and Rome. Swiatek on the other hand had started to track essentially after her earlier exit at the Australian Open. Sabalenka did progress further at the French in contrast to Swiatek at the Australian Open but what happened between is where it gets quite juicy.

Zheng was a first time Finalist at the start of the season and was somewhat of a surprise. Then again, she was coming off a maiden Quarter-Final at the US Open. Still, this was a rapid-fire climb and as anticipated by the data, Zheng’s performance has been lacklustre since this performance peak due to the data capturing key setbacks and essentially the downside of these rapid-fire results. In contrast, Paolini reached the Round of 16 of the Australian Open and continued to progress throughout the season – that is, until the French Open. With a ranking that continued to progress to a high of 13 and now a barrier breaker after her Finalist result, a Quarter-Final would have been anticipated by Paolini if her season had not been spurred with such impressive results. Nonetheless, this still remains an anomaly but not as much as Andreeva’s peak performance

And then there was Gauff who went under the radar all season long given that Swiatek to Collins were capturing the limelight. But what many forgot to note is that Gauff in fact consistently was showing up late in these events and at the Semi-Final stage quite frequently. It would not have been surprising if Gauff did in fact take out Swiatek but then again, Swiatek at Roland Garros has steadily become a formidable force.

Whilst there is so much more to discuss and dissect, these four players on the WTA tour represent key expectations per the data – the anticipated calibre of play of a Top 10 player at 50%, 25% the anomaly in Andreeva, and 25% the player who simply had been playing akin to the Top 10 throughout the season. 

Which brings us to a key point raised in the Top 10 on both the WTA and ATP tours – only 50% of players inside the Top 10 had been living up to their ranking expectation all season. Yes, it has been said time and time again that 50% of the current Top 10 were not performing at the level of a Top 10 player. As such, players ranked outside the Top 10 but inside the Top 20 had greater scope to become a barrier breaker this season. Zheng after her Finalist result — but her performance has not been aligned with a Top 10 baseline; Collins becoming a barrier breaker shortly before the French started with a Top 10 baseline and Ostapenko earlier this season became a barrier breaker after having a super start to the season before reaching a performance plateau and now is hovering outside the Top 10. Paolini then by all accounts was anticipated to become a barrier breaker this season, but perhaps not as soon as now. Either way, her performance and results this reason are better than 50% of the Top 10 prior to the French Open.

And that’s an important point to note – these insights are prior to the French Open and the new rankings released this week.

When it comes to the men there aren’t as many anomalies to note and/or discuss but rather the level of consistency of some of these Top 10 players that simply has fluctuated between the Australian Open to the commencement of the French Open that weakened the respective data to what was potentially to come. The Top 3 players – Djokovic, Sinner and Alcaraz all had question marks around their overall performance. Djokovic was without a title – the longest he’s been in quite some time at this stage of the season. Alcaraz had an ailment he was resting in the lead up and Sinner also had an ailment but wasn’t away for as much time. Out of these 3 players, Sinner was the player with the best results to date this season. And that’s the catch – this season, not last or the one before that. Sinner was favoured to claim his second Grand Slam and second this season if he was able to maintain his level of play. But then again, Alcaraz had been idling at his side and simply was able to capitalise with more rest under his belt.

Djokovic is in fact the anomaly this Grand Slam due to his withdrawal but also that he was able to reach the Quarter-Finals and back up some lengthy match wins with another. Some may say Zverev was the anomaly but I’ll disagree. Zverev has consistently been inside the Top 5 when Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were at their respective peaks and/or still Top 10 players respectively. Zverev was ahead of Tsitsipas and slightly behind Thiem. Then Tsitsipas peaked and Zverev fell behind, same with Medvedev then Rublev came along. But Zverev was always there. Sure, Hurkacz and Dimitrov have since come to the party, but Zverev has been showing up. Medvedev was anticipated to go further, but then again, De Minaur was projected to reach the Quarter-Final stage and only one could walk away with the win. Similar to Medvedev, Zverev just shows up and keeps his level of play in tact. Unfortunately, Alcaraz came along and crashed that limelight and then Sinner, too, with these two newcomers now leading the charge – 1 and 2 respectively post Roland Garros. But Zverev is still holding strong and arguably it really came down to the mentally stronger opponent and the player with that added bit of flair in their game which really handed Alcaraz his third Grand Slam – a huge accomplishment.

No, this wasn’t necessarily anticipated due to Alcaraz’s current season. But going off Grand Slam metrics over the past 24-36 months, this was by all accounts expected. The truth is in the data.

In respect to the ATP tour rankings, the Top 10 has strengthened and yet also, all players inside the Quarter-Finals were Top 10 players if assuming De Minaur was Top 10 (already this season, however was seeded 11 during the Open). This was not the same for the WTA tour with 3 external Top 10 players – Paolini, perhaps similar to De Minaur, but then also Gracheva and Andreeva. Indeed, the WTA had more earlier upsets than the ATP with the likes of Collins and Keys running on highs and falling early. On the men’s it was Rubelv – seeded 6, who fell earlier than anticipate whilst seeds 6, 7, 9 and 10 – Sakkari, Zheng, Ostapenko and Kasatkina fell prior to or at the third round stage like Rublev.

There’s a lot to dissect at the Grand Slam level but also results that were anticipated to those that weren’t and the anomalies and how they factor into the performance spectrum. A lot of this can be reviewed on Beyond Top 10 Tennis and Episodes 88 to 96 that were Special Editions exclusively for the 2024 French Open. 

But this isn’t the end of the clay season as Paris 2024 is just around the corner. It’s an incredible mix for the players – some with a second chance for redemption, others to add that Gold to their illustrious career, and others to cement their place in the history books at an early age. Whilst it’s too soon to share insights on who’s favoured to conquer and who’s not in the running to what the data really says, I’m going to keep quiet until after Wimbledon to better gauge how much time a player may have to prepare to how they’re tracking over this 6 to 8 week period to more finely tune the collective analysis and better explain why ‘this’ player is set, or why ‘another’ player is not primed for a podium finish. But then again, crazy things often happen at the Olympics and rarely do Top 10 players secure Gold, Silver and Bronze. And there’s an irony in that, too. One thing is for sure, and that is the Olympics favour the anomaly as the pressure really takes a hold of the favoured and often it becomes all too much whilst the underdog quietly makes their way through to land on the podium. But if you’ve also been following Beyond Top 10 Tennis and read my latest release “How to Develop a Top 10 Tennis Ranking” then you also know the key behind Olympic success and how the 2024 Wimbledon Champions are more likely to not be the defending Champions this season.

To learn more about our data, predictive analytics and how to optimise your own performance, head on over to AM8 International. To learn more about AM8 International check out our selection of Books and/or options to join Dr B’s Pack to gain exclusive access to the best in the world. Not quite ready? Head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for free access to 80+ episodes directly from Dr Berge of what it really takes to win multiple Grand Slams to securing that Top 10 tennis ranking with new episodes each week. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

Posted on

The Countdown towards Roland Garros 2024, Swiatek’s Mantle and Tennis Players in Contention

This week on Beyond Top 10 Tennis specific players inside the Top 10 on both the WTA and ATP tours were highlighted for various reasons with an emphasis placed on whether or not they were or were not in the running for the second Grand Slam of the season. With Swiatek’s success over the last couple of weeks, it is easy to forget how both Collins and Sakkari have been surging ahead in their own rights and how Sabalenka was with a Championship point to claim the title in Madrid. What Swiatek has been able to accomplish over the best part of the last 6 to 8 weeks plus is nothing shy of remarkable as her statistics continue to climb. This is a timely reminder, however, for each and every one of you that breakthrough’s do happen we do see these players come through at the French which means Swiatek’s next Slam is definitely under threat.

Nevertheless, Swiatek isn’t anything less favourite but Sabalenka has come incredibly close in the past fortnight despite Swiatek taking an even greater advantage in Rome. If anything, it is a timely reminder of how exciting the level and depth of play is on the WTA tour irrespective of the contradictions. Not since the likes of Serena v Venus, or Serena v Azarenka, or Serena succumbing to the level of play from Kerber, Halep to Osaka have we seen this level of play. This isn’t to say that this level has not existed, rather when Serena was at her peak these players were able to deliver on at least one or more occasions on the biggest stages in the world. 

Sure, we’ve had a handful of other players deliver over this time but no one has come close to the level of play that Serena brought to life, or for that fact, Federer, Nadal to even Djokovic still, that we have been privy to a player of not simply this level but also how the rivalries continue to keep coming.

Swiatek is not alone. But her statistics do not lie. Sabalenka is close and so is Gauff and Rybakina but Swiatek continues to lead the charge. Yet, it is the closeness of these matches and the continued depth of all four of these players, that relatively align, that are delivering that next level of play. And still, Swiatek stands tall. It’s easy to forget that Swiatek is only 22 and Gauff 20 with both Rybakina and Sabalenka slightly ahead — 24 and 26 respectively, still mere years apart yet not by much. But neither of these players had accomplished this level of success at this age. Gauff is still within reach. But that’s not what this is about.

Whether 22 or 32 it’s the fact of what the data runs home. From heightened performances at Indian Wells to Miami followed by Madrid to Rome, Swiatek is all in. Sakkari and Collins are in the mix. Rybakina has continued to show when her health has been in check. However, Sabalenka only started to deliver in Madrid whereas her previous peak level of play can be tracked back to her Australian Open Win. And that’s what counts — consistency in application.

By all means Swiatek did not start the season on a peak performance run. In all fairness, she did run into Collins in the earlier rounds and that, dare I say, took the wind out of Swiatek before she could think about a Round of 16 result — it just simply wasn’t to be. But since then, Swiatek has been sublime and the only player who comes close is Rybakina. And yet, due to Rybakina not being able to play consistent events due to some ill health, the data continues to point towards Swiatek who is now followed by Sabalenka after the results of the past fortnight — in time for the next Grand Slam of the season.

But don’t be fooled. Of course I’m all in for Swiatek to claim her 5th Grand Slam but on equal accounts when does Swiatek’s tank flip to empty? It’s a careful juggling act that Rybakina and Gauff may very well be favoured to advance and perhaps even Sabalenka. But if the right key patterns are in play then I’d dare say Swiatek may very well be as dangerous on the clay as historically Nadal has been for the best part of the last near 20 years. And that’s saying something.

It would be remiss nonetheless not to highlight the potential anomaly that has silently been tracking forwards. And when I say silently we’re considering players who have still been performing just not at Swiatek’s level. From here, there’s Svitolina to Sakkari and maybe Jabeur will come to the party but even her level of play this season is perhaps akin to Djokovic — simply not apparent. Then there’s Collins to Paolini and whilst Ostenpenko started the 2024 season strong there are simply more players outside the Top 10 than are inside the Top 10 of which have been steadily progressing this season. Now that’s also saying something.

Last but not least, both Osaka and Badosa have had solid wins of late to Shnaider with two titles now this season. There are lesser known players who have been tracking and let’s remember when both Ostenpenko to Krejcikova won their maiden Grand Slam title at the French, neither was expected nor on the radar. But I’ll tell you something right here and now, if there’s a player in the running and they surpass the Round of 16 as a benchmark, our predictive analytics will take them all the way to the Championship courtesy of the 8 Keys.

Which brings us to the ATP tour and the likelihood of Djokovic securing his 25th Grand Slam title. If his most recent results this season are to go by then the answer is quite clear cut — no. If we’re to go by Djokovic’s historical performance then we all know it’s a resounding yes. That said, this will be the first time in perhaps the last 10+ years that Djokovic will not be the hot favourite.

Both Sinner and Alcaraz were out of action the past week. Alcaraz has not been dlivering as consistently this season as Sinner. Then you have the likes of Tsitsipas, Rudd and Zverev who have been. Rublev to Medvedev somewhat, Dimitrov and Hurkacz, too. And that’s the Top 10 for you. Unlike the WTA tour, this French Open is almost up for grabs across this playing field with Sinner the primary player with the advantage. But then again, he’s had a little extra time off. Alcaraz may find that form again from his 2023 season that has allowed him to claim two Grand Slams at such a young age, and perhaps add the French to his collection — or Sinner will even the tally of Slams to match Alcaraz’s haul. It’s quite possible. But I’ll say it now, if Sinner and Alcaraz make the final it’ll have all the ingredients akin to a Nadal v Federer and it’ll be incredibly exciting as the new era is officially well underway.

Similarly, Swiatek v Sabalenka in the final — three times in a row, would be a classic. And these players are all here for it.

And then you have the potential upsets. Paul has been dangerous this season, even more so than Shelton. De Minaur may very well have it in him for a semi-final birth or more. Alex has the game akin to a Chang to Fererro and with that has the legs to simply keep running. Bublik is another player who has made inroads this season and is definitely primed for an additional upset or two of one or more of the Top 10. Whilst a quarter-final may be on the cards, the data doesn’t suggest any further. But there’s always an anomaly and a player who goes above and beyond — whether from an anticipated 1st Round exit through to the 3rd Round, or like this years Australian Open when a number of anomalies appeared in the quarter-finals on the WTA tour and two of these players are now at all time ranking peaks — Kostyuk and Paolini with correlating results unlike Zheng who hasn’t been able to deliver as robust per her Finalist result at the opening Slam of the season.

As for the ATP tour there isn’t so much the argument for this level of progression but there’s depth in the form of the aforementioned dark horses and these threats are real.

If one thing is for sure, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this year’s French Open with the data to lead the way for Paris 2024, Wimbledon to the US Open. But also, with Beyond Top 10 Tennis now officially a centrepiece across all four Grand Slams, this French Open will be the first live recount and I’m equally excited to share. Not simply from a numbers point of view but primarily because I’m witnessing in real-time a genuine unfolding of the current Top 10 to the next crop surging through with key markers underpinning core results and reaffirming over and over again how the 8 Keys remain an absolute. But secretly, I’m also curious to see the next player to achieve replicated success, the next barrier breaker to the next maiden Grand Slam Chamoion as our data is brought to life and continues to underscore these outcomes and who’s who in the running for these identifiers, accomplishments, to nothing short of remarkable feats.

To learn more about our data, predictive analytics and how to optimise your own performance, head on over to AM8 International. To learn more about AM8 International check out our selection of Books and/or options to join Dr B’s Pack to gain exclusive access to the best in the world. Not quite ready? Head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for free access to 80+ episodes directly from Dr Berge of what it really takes to win multiple Grand Slams to securing that Top 10 tennis ranking with new episodes each week. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

Posted on

From A.I to Tennis Players on Fire, Final Seasons, Top 4 on the WTA and ATP tours & the G.O.A.T Data often Ignored

The last two weeks I’ve leveraged A.I to gauge it’s effectiveness to capabilities in sharing data to more precisely pulling a part key topics explored throughout individual episodes of Beyond Top 10 Tennis to give you a better glimpse or snapshot of what is essentially more than 10,000 words into an easy to digest format. It has been fun but also a lot of work. A.I definitely has its advantages but behind the scenes both of those articles were more arduous to time-consuming than I’d anticipated. And more often than not, took a hell of a lot longer to pen than writing each and every word myself.

It’s important to clarify this careful mix as I am well aware that most articles that suggest or share the use of A.I are left untouched. But truly, if you get to the undercurrent — behind these sentences to what’s really being shared, for any experienced writer there is a lot of nonsense that needs to be peeled away to get to the good stuff. Unfortunately, that takes a lot of work. The benefit nonetheless, for me personally, was sifting through a significant number of words — an entire three or four book chapters, into one concise digestible article. Now that’s no easy feat.

I’m confident I’ll be back and use A.I as an ‘assistant’ — to cull my words when needed and to condense these episode transcripts from Beyond Top 10 Tennis. From my perspective, that’s a helpful application as in reality A.I is essentially taking my work and my very own words whilst summarising it’s key contents to share. This is in direct contrast to *not* using my own words, content or elaborate and long-winded prompts over-and-over-and-over again, to a simple structured sentence with a simple command to write ‘something’ on ‘this subject’. In other words, there’s a significant difference in application and a lot of work behind the scenes.

But this week as I’m hopeful you can tell, that’s not what we’re here to talk about. There’s been way too much going on behind the scenes across the tennis landscape that has been shared on Beyond Top 10 Tennis but also has not been shared. On this merit, it deserves elaboration so let’s dive in and review some standout players…

Collins is on fire. Quite simply, she really is. It’s her final season and anyone who is dealing with endometriosis and/or has known someone who is dealing with this debilitating health condition, for Collins to play at the level she is — it’s absolutely Top 5 status without a doubt. Arguably, with a clean bill of health Collins would have notched up a few Grand Slams. She’s been ranked inside the Top 10 previously and has had to deal with surgery to rise back up the rankings. Collins has been a Grand Slam Finalist and she has notched up wins against the best. She comes with attitude and so much fun, Collins’ final season has been nothing but perhaps one of her best ‘two’ seasons to date. That said, if Collins makes a Grand Slam final this season and breaks into the Top 10 — both increasingly likely, it’ll be her best. And it has to be said that to go out with a US Open win would be stellar and something not even Serena Williams herself could manage. But then again, Collins has opted to go out at a performance peak so I’d say anything is possible with her current performance surge.

Thiem has called time and will close out his career this season. I’m sure I speak for many when I say it’s incredibly disappointing that Roland Garros won’t be giving Thiem the Wildcard he deserves having been a Finalist on multiple occasions.

Cornet is on her final season and has managed to claw her way back into the Top 100. Granted Cornet is French, Roland Garros will grant her special conditions as her career undoubtedly deserves. Not only has Cornet notched up wins against the best in the world throughout her career, she was a firm Top 20 player for a number of seasons — perhaps her first decade on tour, before shying away from her performance peak and settling between the Top 80 to Top 100 in more recent seasons.

Muguruza had a stellar career and quite simply when COVID came she was one of the more prominent players to take a much needed break. Fair is fair when you consider the demands of the tour and how Muguruza was No.1 and a Grand Slam Champion when Serena Williams was arguably at ‘one of’ her peaks. Not every player can make that claim. By all accounts, I’d say Muguruza had a number of years left in her, but then again, I’d perhaps go out on a limb and suggest she wasn’t content being ranked inside the Top 20 in the world — where her ranking had settled around this timeframe before taking an extended leave of absence. It is also important to note that for some players, normalcy is a huge reward given that they don’t get to experience that very often until their career comes to a close. And that’s where the irony of COVID comes into play. Rankings were impacted but so were a number of players who yearned for more time at home. Muguruza is the perfect example and this time away was what her heart had been missing, without a doubt, making the decision all the more easier to close off one chapter of her life and breathe life into the next.

This is a timely reminder of the demands of both WTA and ATP tours. On the other hand, Nadal arguably does not want to wave goodbye. Tennis has been his home away from home for essentially more than the past 20 years. It’s a huge part of him and his home life wasn’t what he’d yearned for as much as for the Grand Slams to fire ignited inside him when he’d step out onto the biggest tennis courts in the world. Neither is right or wrong but one has 22 and the other 2 Grand Slams.

But let’s be fair — there’s a hell of a lot more players — 99% or greater who yearn for that Grand Slam and never come within reach throughout their entire playing career. These two achieved this feat on multiple occasions and Nadal is one of the greatest players of all time

A topic most like to argue, Nadal in fact was more consistent than both Federer and Djokovic in holding onto his Top 10 ranking over the same period of time. For those interested in the statistics, these are wrapped inside the What is Your Game Missing series — 3 complete texts that extrapolate data off both WTA and ATP tours and this is one of a number of very interesting insights that is often neglected. Not even Federer or Djokovic won a Grand Slam 14 times. Whilst Djokovic has won 10 Australian Open titles, arguably he’s now under threat from the likes of Sinner to Alcaraz to add to his tally.

By all means more Grand Slams are possible for Djokovic but he’s also not against the dominance of Nadal nor Federer who had to dethrone the other as well as Djokovic to notch these wins. It’s a different era. On this note, Nadal should definitely be in discussion for G.O.A.T and similar to Collins — on an entirely different level, imagine if Nadal hadn’t been sidelined by a number of injuries in the later half of his career. Without a doubt, he was the player to dethrone Federer’s G.O.A.T status in respect to the Grand Slam tally and it was only after Nadal’s body struggled to recover from his ailments did Djokovic surge ahead — before Sinner and Alcaraz had levelled up with Medvedev his only real threat but by no means at the same level.

And this is a really interesting point. Federer peaked against the best in the world. Nadal peaked against the best in the world. Djokovic followed also against the best in the world but his more recent Grand Slams since overtaking both Federer and then Nadal were not won against the best in the world. Quite simply, Djokovic was the ‘best in the world’ left in action. And that’s another point. By all accounts, Djokovic is the player who has been able to maintain his health the longest and is deserving of the player who has been able to maintain his peak performance for the longest period of time courtesy of this health whereby both Federer and Nadal have succumbed to their ailments.

Whilst there are other players who are calling the 2024 season their last and those who have already closed out their career without a last ‘hurrah’, there’s another interesting storyline that was touched on in this week’s episode which includes Swiatek’s rise and Sabalenka gaining ground to both Gauff and Rybakina closely following. It’s an incredibly interesting time for the WTA tour as the Top 4 are truly in the race for the next Grand Slam. And it’s also exciting!

The level of play has gone up a notch and not inside the last 3 to 4 seasons have we been able to witness the stakes being this close with all 4 of these players with a Grand Slam now to their name whilst making further inroads to latch onto more. That said, Swiatek leads this pack — the second youngest after Guaff, then Rybakina and Sabalenka are at an age where their level is further primed to peak — a scary thought if considering both Swiatek and Gauff have ample room to peak in the years ahead.

Then there’s Sinner and Alcaraz looking to dethrone Djokovic and both are incredibly close. But given Sinner is out of action the past week and Alcaraz suffered an earlier loss than anticipated followed by the past week out, and Djokovic also with a number of earlier losses than typically anticipated, this has provided room for Tsitsipas and others to come forward. And this is the same player who regressed outside the Top 10 a matter of 2-3 months ago and then hit the courts with a bang to reach back-to-back finals followed by a title with Rudd closely following. But it is Tsitsipas who has continued to progress. On this note, it’s a timely reminder that Tsitsipas has been a Grand slam Finalist before and with the Top 3 not at the anticipated level and/or hard to gauge with the past week absent from tour, this is also followed by Medvedev still being in contention but hasn’t been as steadfast i.e. reaching these lead-up finals, as these other two. By all accounts, there are other players in there running from Rublev to Hurkacz, but when we’re looking at the 7 Keys to the 8th Key it really comes down to a cutthroat performance whereby the WTA tour’s Top 4 have been leading the charge in contrast to the ATP tour’s primary 4. 

A subtle word of warning — Zverev has been quietly getting the job done whilst Fritz has been regaining form. If anything, we’re mere weeks away from one of the Top 4 to make their mark — further, or for one of these ‘other’ players that haven’t garnered the spotlight to finally lift that maiden Grand Slam crown.

It’s a game of fluctuations and steadfast peak performances and who can maintain their grasp for longer periods of time before succumbing. It’s a battle in its own right and perhaps why Nadal was always poised for more but on equal accounts why Swiatek has been putting this on display in her own right. And with less than a fortnight to go until the 2024 French Open is underway, it’s this time of the season that is ample for both upsets and continued peak performances — a complex Pathway to navigate for those who are not equipped with all 8 Keys.

To learn more about our data, predictive analytics and how to optimise your own performance, head on over to AM8 International. To learn more about AM8 International check out our selection of Books and/or options to join Dr B’s Pack to gain exclusive access to the best in the world. Not quite ready? Head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for free access to 80+ episodes directly from Dr Berge of what it really takes to win multiple Grand Slams to securing that Top 10 tennis ranking with new episodes each week. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

Posted on

A Comprehensive Overview of Developing Elite Tennis Players: A Milestone Recap of Episodes 1 to 85 of Beyond Top 10 Tennis

Celebrating the one year Anniversary of Beyond Top 10 Tennis, this week’s episode — #85 is a capstone of what the past 12 months has delivered from our initial beginnings to this very season as the French Open beckons at the later end of this Month. 

What follows is a detailed, albeit brief, summary highlighting a handful of key takeaways and multifaceted strategies required as discussed in this week’s episode that revisited a multitude of key segments over the past year. Additional reminders to pitfalls players face on their journey towards the Top 100 and onwards towards the Top 10 are shared and why players struggle to overcome these predefined barriers in place that can in fact be overcome with the adoption of the 8 Keys made available at AM8 International

The Pivotal Coach-Parent-Player Alliance:

One of the cornerstones is the dynamic between the coach, parent/guardian and player. As I outlined in our very first episode: “Welcome and the Coach-Parent Relationship“:

The coach-parent relationship is incredibly powerful and important. Too often there is an assumption that coaches hold absolute authority. However, I advocate flipping that power structure, positioning players and parents as essentially the employers “hiring” the coach:

“You’re their employer paying for their service, so you have every right to get what you want…the easiest sign you have the right coach is if they know the 8 Keys, which 99.9% of coaches do not.”

This promotes accountability and ensures coaches are meeting each session’s stated intentions, goals, and needs. It also emphasises building a player’s independent thinking rather than ingraining an over-dependence on constant coaching cues.

Mental Health and Personal Development:

Mental health sat at the core of episodes like “Mental Health, Depression and Anxiety in Sport” because “most athletes experience depression and/or anxiety, often undiagnosed, especially between ages 13-23.”

I advocate proactively, identifying these issues through open dialogue and providing resources, noting “there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.”

Other areas of player-centric development covered include:

  • Instilling positive player behaviour
  • Promoting emotional stability and fair play ethics
  • Finding happiness/mindfulness away from sport
  • Supplementation and proper hydration education
  • Nurturing a positive body image and self-worth

These foster well-rounded growth beyond just athletic performance.

Mastering the Fundamentals:

A meticulous focus on technical fundamentals is vital. Early episodes highlighted forgotten aspects like discrete skill development, functional movement patterns, momentum generation, the applicability of reading and/or learning to a player’s ability to problem-solve.

Assessing and developing these areas provides the foundation towards optimal performance whereby learning proper movement mechanics from a young age is critical for long-term injury prevention.

Specific examples I explored include functional movement with five complete episodes dedicated to this all-important topic as each element of the kinetic chain — in some way, shape or form — direct and/or indirect, work in tandem, teaching you the core basics of technical parameters: your technique, your power and the quintessential building blocks to establish optimal foundations.

Other training essentials covered included periodisation, adjusting for adolescent-induced changes, planning productive practices, honing mindfulness, continuing coach education and the all-encompassing coach-player and coach-parent dynamic:

“Irrespective if you’re ranked inside the Top 10, 20, 100, or 500, there are specific rules that govern that coach-player relationship and the coach-parent relationship.”

Supplemental Cross-Training:

An insightful discussion on “Single Sport Interaction” advocated:

“Supplementary cross-training through other sports and activities enhances overall athleticism while providing an outlet for fun and passion.”

However, I cautioned against certain sports that could impair technical transference:

“Table tennis, badminton, squash — those are ones to potentially stay away from…I was always cautioned [against] squash as a junior, in fear that I could compromise my technique.”

The insights here speak to balancing complementary training with preserving the foundations.

The Elite Change of Pace:

As Beyond Top 10 Tennis transitioned in 2024 to focus more on WTA and ATP sanctioned events, I blended my deep experience with analytics to evaluate performances, results, and ranking implications in ‘real time’ to allow listeners (and readers) on-demand insights like never before opposed to waiting for that next Book release:

“Diving into granular details regarding specific players, identifying key separating factors like superiority in particular metrics, patterns of play and keys mastered versus deficiencies for those struggling or plateauing.”

Detailed breakdowns that have since been covered include the Australian Summer, Indian Wells, Miami, and the European clay courts that are currently underway. Emphasis was placed on:

  • Coaching dynamics of top players
  • Newcomers making an impact
  • Ranking movement within the Top 100 and 200 on both WTA and ATP tours
  • Gender interactions and age differences
  • Projecting grand slam contenders based on current form
  • Explaining upsets through the “rule of transference” lens (a key theory I termed and have since popularised since its earlier extrapolation in one of my initial releases)

The Pathway:

Underlying all these insights is the pursuit of completely mastering the 8 Keys which allow a player’s full capacity to become amplified, including but not limited to:

“The ability to handle immense pressure and solve problems in real-time is just as vital as technical prowess. For the 8% who ascend, the capability to remain dedicated to this holistic process for 10-20 years of developmental rigour is essential.”

By combining sports science with these well documented behavioural learnings, the path towards self-actualisation that remains performance-centric and two-fold can be optimised. This becomes a reality by fusing analytics with technical ‘best practices’ that provide a comprehensive roadmap — see The Long Game.

However, the road is unforgiving for those who lack the intrinsic understanding — those who are unable to harness these fundamental teachings are increasingly likely to underachieve, stagnating as their bodies and minds fall short due to the immense load of elite competition. But that’s where the 7 Keys and ultimate 8th Key come into play to deliver these long sought answers.

An Invaluable Resource:

Over 85 episodes and counting, the Beyond Top 10 Tennis Podcast has provided an unprecedented breadth and depth of insights encompassing every aspect of elite tennis development — technical, physical, psychological, philosophical to strategic and will continue to grow, evolve and share even more with the episodes to come. Some key quotes and discussions highlighted this week include:

“These episodes work in tandem, teaching you those core basics…to establish really healthy foundations in the developmental high performance stage.”

“We’ve got books on this around developing the athlete and specifically the text ‘The Secrets to Optimal Performance Success‘ really dives into this.”

“This episode is very close to my heart because I think most athletes, especially now more than ever, do experience depression and/or anxiety.”

“When you step on court, what is your reason? What is your intention? What are you working on?”

By condensing decades of experience into easily digestible segments, this has become an invaluable resource for any coach, player, parent or passionate fan seeking to deeply understand the all-encompassing process of tennis success — denoted by a Top 10 tennis ranking and Grand Slam Championship wins.

No stone is left unturned in examining every nuance and intricacy, from areas often overlooked to making sense of the latest performance analytics. My writings and ingrained philosophies are attributed to providing the framework — The Pathway, while first-hand accounts of applying these teachings to players across the globe add vital context.

It is this Pathway that has been comprehensively dissected to deliver those elusive answers for the very first time in tennis history — for those willing to embark on the arduous yet rewarding journey towards the top of tennis hierarchy. For the tiny fraction of tennis players who possess the unshakable dedication and predetermined fortitude, achieving these dreams of tennis success at the highest level of play is now quite truly yours when you commit to and embark upon The Long Game.

To learn more about our data, predictive analytics and how to optimise your own performance, head on over to AM8 International. To learn more about AM8 International check out our selection of Books and/or options to join Dr B’s Pack to gain exclusive access to the best in the world. Not quite ready? Head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for free access to 80+ episodes directly from Dr Berge of what it really takes to win multiple Grand Slams to securing that Top 10 tennis ranking with new episodes each week. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

Posted on

For the Love of the Game: A [true] Tennis Player’s Reality

The onslaught of the game to the highs and lows and everything in between is the reality of what a tennis player signs up for with the sheer driver of love pulling and pushing them all the way. It’s a hard truth but equally a beautiful reality when performance merges with this passion and equates with Grand Slam success. It’s the pinnacle of play and a heart filled with desire — bursting at the seams to lift that elusive trophy. Whether it be once, twice or twenty times more, the truth is forever etched in a player’s core driver — their love of the game.

The onslaught of the game to the highs and lows and everything in between is the reality of what a tennis player signs up for with the sheer driver of love pulling and pushing them all the way. It’s a hard truth but equally a beautiful reality when performance merges with this passion and equates with Grand Slam success. It’s the pinnacle of play and a heart filled with desire — bursting at the seams to lift that elusive trophy. Whether it be once, twice or twenty times more, the truth is forever etched in a player’s core driver — their love of the game.

Quite simply, it’s home on earth that happens to travel with you — wherever that ball may take you.

So with a heart full and a passion bursting that drives each player towards that next peak performance and so on and so forth until the Top 100 becomes a reality, then it gets that much more real. Another season will pass followed by the next and then the Top 50 becomes a firm reality before the Top 30 soon follows. But don’t be mistaken — this is only the reality of the 8% for the 92% will rarely get this far to begin. And so for this scarce player that is beholden to their heart and the game that lights up their eternal soul from within, the work gets harder and even more gruelling for all of a sudden that life away from the tennis court that could have been — a simple “9 to 5” without the pitfalls to pressures of what it means to wear your heart on your sleeve. But then again, in reality these really are comparable although that’s not the point.

By this time the dollars are being raked in and financial longevity is set for those who learn how to manage these winnings. After all, that “9 to 5” isn’t breaking your body in those initial 10 to 20 years of Play in contrast to the player who is increasingly likely to deal with surgeries to “sick leave” directly caused by the game itself. However, this doesn’t have to be if you follow the 7 Keys. The point here is to do with a lifetime of earnings done so in essentially one fifth of the time and yet this can readily be mismanaged by those who are too young to know the dos and dont’s for their heart is in the game and their mind is all-consumed by the ball and those strings before the reality of the outside world comes crashing back into place — maybe a decade too late.

That is an anomaly for the 8% for these are the players envied by the 92%. These players will continue to try and will continue to fight but equally reach a plateau that rests inside the Top 100 but more often than not outside the Top 20. For most, especially WTA tour players, this is akin to earnings of a standard “9 to 5” if not worse off due to equal pay “up for grabs” not being dispersed evenly across tours. But they won’t budge and they’ll continue to fight in search of those elusive 8 Keys that will ignite their game towards that next peak performance. For some, it’s all worth the while for they’ll get a taste of what it is like to be at the top of the game and inside the 8% for even just a week or two from an almighty run at a Grand Slam for it only to be short lived.

But then there are those who will stay at the top of the game for the best part of their career and then those who will not make that run because quite simply they’re in denial of those initial 7 Keys and thus the 8th Key remains elusive — akin to supernovas that beckon the midnight skies of eerily late night matches.

That’s just a little absurdity and/or beauty — dependent on your perspective, to tie in with the truth of what it all really means. But back to the main premise here which is undoubtedly erred on by the love of the game. From one ball to three, five to ten and before you know you’ve lost count after hours on hours. It’s a zone that is so much better than the twilightand it’s an out of body experience that is simply by nature — a continuation of skill and merit. By sheer conditioning and hard work coupled with that drive for one more ball and that insistent attempt to learn what that feeling really must be before one day you find it and that feeling has your heart forever more bursting at the seems.

You bet, truth is in the reality of the game.

From The Long Game to The Pathway the reality of it all, irrespective of the juxtaposition shared, the reality is in the data and our [NEW] analytics that safeguard players from heartache (*injury*) and those that succumb due to financial stress and/or being quite simply stuck at a performance plateau. If you’ve been looking for the sign, this is it — here and now.

This week’s change of pace was prompted by Nadal’s potential finale in Madrid, Thiem’s constant battle with his ailing wrist, Badosa with her rankings slide along with Raducanu who’s been sidelined on/off for the past two seasons along with dozens of other players who struggle with their love of the game, managing injuries to knowing what it really [truly] takes to secure that Top 10 tennis ranking.

To learn more about our data, predictive analytics and how to optimise your own performance, head on over to AM8 International. To learn more about AM8 International check out our selection of Books and/or options to join Dr B’s Pack to gain exclusive access to the best in the world. Not quite ready? Head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for free access to 80+ episodes directly from Dr Berge of what it really takes to win multiple Grand Slams to securing that Top 10 tennis ranking with new episodes each week. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.