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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.

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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.

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Learning from Mistakes: Coaches

Mistakes happen and they’re readily made by the best of us. But this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Rather, far from it. From being conscious enough to notice mistakes and to have the capacity to reflect — instil regular reflective practice sessions, allows every coach irrespective of their calibre to build new skills and to become the coach they desire to be. Now this may take the form of a Top 10 tennis coach or an exceptional developmental coach — each coaching level serves a purpose in The Long Game and it is paramount to be mindful of how these levels intersect in building the best players to coaches in the world.

But first, it’s about those mistakes and the grey area that edges towards negligence. A scary word outside the coaching landscape and thus of greater concern when used within this environment, coaching negligence is a concerning reality players/athletes to parents need to be aware of and coaches incredibly mindful of to ensure they do not succumb to these pitfalls. One such preventative measure is the aforementioned practice of reviewing your own practices and if they’re working, if they need to be modified and/or if the time has come to update these older practices into more accommodating ones that take into consideration the individual player/athlete and their set needs i.e. that one size does not fit all and nor does a tennis drill and/or lesson fit all players/athletes.

To ensure you do not succumb to and/or fall victim to coaching negligence education is key and the willingness to uphold widely known ethical practices to codes of conduct in safeguarding all players/athletes — including from developing an injury.

This change of focus flips the script towards a coaches responsibility in their continued education to ensure outdated practices that have been identified as contributing towards the onset of injury in children to younger adolescents are removed once and for all. The same applies for the player close to the end of their initial 10 Years of Play and about to transition into their second decade of play towards their next peak performance with this cycle continued towards the Top 10 with further infusion of the 7 Keys into their game. However, if the initial decade leaves the player/athlete highly susceptible to the onset of injury then their second decade becomes derailed before it even starts.

Unfortunately this is seen all too often on the WTA and ATP tours when a player is in their later teenage years to early 20’s — early in their second decade of play, to then succumb to an injury that subsequently results in their rankings ascension regress and undoing the past 1-2 years of peak performance cycles. This is stoppable. It is preventable with the right practices and education around newer practices that align with the progression towards a Top 10 tennis ranking. But it starts with the ability to acknowledge that some practices may very well be outdated and change is warranted opposed to avoided.

When it comes to education it is important to be mindful of what was taught last year may not be as applicable as it once was and the same applies to what was taught twenty years ago may very well be outdated.

Sadly, there are a lot of coaches who rely on knowledge and/or education ascertained decades prior — whether that be one, two or more and avoid keeping pace with new knowledge and education. By all accounts, education one, two or more decades ago is still relevant and serves a purpose, just as important as knowledge from one year ago is to two weeks ago — it all serves a purpose. What is most critical is the ability to remain open minded to new knowledge — new education to ensure this can be integrated into your coaching practices opposed to being avoided and/or oblivious of new research that may very well uncover how to develop a Top 10 tennis ranking.

Times are changing and coaching negligence is a real thing and can be called out. Likewise, coaches need to be held accountable to these gaps if they remain void of up-skilling on a regular basis. And this definitely does not need to include courses and/or presentations from the same cohort, rather it is what’s external to your regular go-to source to see what else is available that may not be being shared within this context. To ensure this remains true this is where reflective practices comes into play and that level of consciousness on how you can review your own performance and do better — from safeguarding your players/athletes from injury to acquiring the knowledge that can see these players/athletes benefit from The Pathway to ascend towards the Top 10. All of this becomes possible courtesy of your own coaching practices — open whilst challenging the status quo to adopt new practices and leave the older ones where they belong — with the former generation of players opposed to the new and next generation of play that demands the winning edge afforded by science.

To learn more about Learning from Mistakes: Coaches, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 45. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Fair Play and Ethics: Win or Lose

Everyone has played someone who has broken the rules. Everyone knows that feeling when their ball is called out by their opponent when it was clearly inside the line. And everyone knows what it feels like losing to that kind of opponent. Needless to say, it isn’t nice. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who hasn’t played against someone who breaks the rules then I hope this remains to be true and you continue to lead by example. For those of you who have, you’re not alone by a long stretch and it’s so incredibly important to share with you that you’re on the right side of optimal performance and the right side of reaching that next peak performance cycle. How do I know? Quite simply, those who choose not to abide by the rules do not have the moral compass needed (i.e. internal ethics) to follow The Long Game.

Ascending towards the top of the game takes work. And a lot of work. My three favourite “D’s” that I have honed into any player/athlete I have worked with over the past near twenty years is this: Discipline, Dedication and Determination. It’s that simple. You need the discipline to show up even when it gets hard. You need the dedication to continue to fine-tune your craft. And you need the determination to see it though. This combination of “D’s” is lethal in the right hands and places you on the trajectory of The Pathway towards the finale of your initial 10 Years of Play. As for the following decade of play, these three “D’s” will be in your DNA as habitual behaviours that you’ll be at-the-ready to ascend towards the Top 10 with the 7 Keys becoming solidified within your game.

Of course you’re asking, if only it was that easy? The irony, however, is that it’s pretty close. But those who do not abide by fair play will eventually stumble as these three “D’s” do not agree with those without ethical standards. As such, when it comes to ethics it is as simple as whether or not it is ethical to lie or to tell the truth. Hopefully you’re following along and agree with the truth. The same applies for that ball inside the line. By conditioning these behaviours in the initial 10 Years of Play these players/athletes are raising the bar for the next generation of play alongside each key raising the level of play.

At the highest levels of play on both the WTA and ATP tours, fair play is a must have and players are bound to these terms per the code of conduct.

Sadly, some players at this level will still break a rule or two from time and others even more so. These behaviours are not attributed towards a Top 10 tennis ranking and as such players who do not maintain ethical standards are scarcely positioned to ascend towards the Top 10. And for the one that does every so often, fair play soon enough takes over. Then there are those who quickly fall into line. Why?

There’s something about the Top 10 that threatens your rankings hold if you step out of line and rightly so with fair play on the line. The same applies for ethics with both the WTA and ATP tours championing both principles.

By all accounts it is incredibly sad when these players do tarnish the name of our game. But for those who uphold these values and lead my example, they’re the ones who have harnessed the three “D’s” and used these behaviours to amplify their game. Meanwhile, those who make the choice not to play fair and/or by ethical standards, they’re also the ones who oftentimes are battling an inner turmoil that needs addressing to balance their personal and professional agenda.

There is one thing for sure when it comes to fair play — those who play by the rules have nothing to fear. And at the elite echelon of play, there are a myriad of hoops to ensure they’re all considered and adhered towards. These behaviours set not merely help your performance but they also ensure you’re eligible to continue to play the game you have grown to love. As for ethics, they go hand-in-hand with fairness and by upholding the values of the sport and respecting your status as a role model — once you’ve crossed the threshold into the Top 10. By doing so raises the bar again for the next generation after and by upholding these values reestablishes the importance of this cycle and fundamental behaviours in that initial 10 years of Play that builds key behaviours of which can later be attributed towards more readily processing the 7 Keys and more easily transitioning from one peak performance cycle to the next. And all it takes as an added bonus is a moral compass bound by healthy ethics and fair play.

To learn more about Fair Play and Ethics: Win or Lose, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 44. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.