Many experts and observers of tennis will say that the biggest difference between good professional tennis players and being an all-time great or a major champion is a player’s mental toughness.
Steve Flink, in his celebrated book “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” (New Chapter Press, available here on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257936/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_qnBKtb04RW0W3H0S) discusses the players that exhibited the greatest amount of mental toughness in the history of tennis. His all-time rankings in this category, separated by men and women, is outlined below in this exclusive except from his book.
1. RAFAEL NADAL No one in the history of tennis has competed with such quiet fury and unbridled intensity. In my book, Nadal is the toughest player mentally the game has yet seen, the champion with the strongest disposition, a man with a limitless supply of willpower.
2. JIMMY CONNORS. Strikingly reminiscent of his fellow left-hander Nadal as a competitor in many ways, Connors roused himself to many exhilarating triumphs on days when he seemed nearly certain to lose. He was courageous, unswerving, and defiant. Connors was a warrior through and through, and as unwavering as any tennis player I have ever witnessed.
3. PANCHO GONZALES The most ferocious of all champions, Gonzales was fueled by anger, appealing questionable line calls vociferously before raising his game to another level.
4. PETE SAMPRAS He made the game look easy, carrying himself calmly through long afternoons and strenuous contests, but few have equaled or surpassed his mental durability or imposed themselves more when it counted. He willed himself to more than his share of victories.
5. ROD LAVER He dazzled the world of tennis with his multitude of gifts as a player and was a sportsman of the highest order. The fact remains that Laver’s mentality was what defined him as one of the great champions ever. He knew how to survive even when he was off his game.
1. CHRIS EVERT The most unflappable and unflagging of competitors, Evert’s mindset was what separated her more than anything else from her rivals. She won more than her share of big matches with her temerity and was not afraid to lose. Her steely demeanor and unshakable desire to win made her the toughest female tennis competitor of all time.
2. HELEN WILLS MOODY She did not get the nickname “Little Miss Poker Face” without good reason. This Californian was inscrutable on the field of battle, giving nothing away, masking her emotions fully at all times.
3. SERENA WILLIAMS As fearless a player as the women’s game has produced, Williams was the best of all at fighting her way out of the rough terrain of tight contests. She has had days when she has essentially beaten herself, but Williams is an astonishing match player and competitor.
4. MONICA SELES How could this dynamic player be left off of this list? She was as intimidating as any woman who has played the game, bearing down hard and unrelentingly, displaying grit and gumption every step of the way.
5. STEFFI GRAF and BILLIE JEAN KING The German probably detested losing more than just about any champion ever has. Her desire to succeed was almost tangible. Graf was a competitor of the highest order and a fighter through and through. King was a player of wide ranging emotions, but there was no one better at responding to a big match situation and bringing out her best to suit the occasion.
“The Greatest Tennis Matches Of All-Time” features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the 1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink also includes a fascinating “greatest strokes of all time” section where he ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years. Other champions featured in the book include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf among many others.
The book is a hard-cover book that retails for $28.95 and can be purchased via this link http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338340410&sr=8-1, at www.NewChapterMedia.com and where ever books are sold.
Flink, one of the most respected writers and observers in the game, is currently a columnist for TennisChannel.com. A resident of Katonah, N.Y., he is the former editor of World Tennis magazine and a former senior columnist at Tennis Week.
The book has received high praise from some of the most respected names in the sport, including Chris Evert, a winner of 18 major singles titles, who wrote the foreword to the book.
Said seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, “Steve Flink was there reporting on almost every big match I played in my career. He has seen all of the great players for the last 45 years. I encourage you to read this book because Steve is one of the most insightful writers on the game that I have known and he really knows his tennis.”
Said former U.S. Davis Cup captain and player Patrick McEnroe, “As a writer and a fan, Steve Flink’s knowledge of tennis history and his love of the sport are second to none, which is why you should read his new book.”
Said ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, “To see tennis through the eyes of Steve Flink is to wander through a wonderland. These are not fantasies because Steve captures the essence of tennis matches in graphic detail. There is no one more passionate or caring about his subject. In this absorbing book, I can relive matches that I have called on television.”
Said CBS, NBC and Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo, “The Greatest Tennis Matches Of All Time is a masterful tennis epic. Its pages are brimming with insight, hindsight. And as always with Steve Flink, the 20/20 vision of the subtleties and complexities of a match. From Budge to Nadal and “Little Mo” to Serena Williams, Steve will guide you through the greatest matches you ever saw, or never saw. The game’s finest players and brightest moments will come alive and play again, right before your eyes. This book is a tennis treasure.”
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion: The Full Extraordinary Story” by Mark Hodgkinson, “Court Confidential” by Neil Harman, “A Backhand Gift” by Marhsall Fisher, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker, ”A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “People’s Choice Guide Cancun” by Eric Rabinowitz, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.