The Hangover, the Ruud version

by Evan Gaudreau

Our creative coach, Evan Gaudreu, is back with his fictional take on what went on in the Ruud camp after his loss to Alcaraz in the US Open finals.

The Hangover, the Ruud version

Christian walked out of the room as Casper sat cross-legged on the mat. He began by focusing on his breathing and quieting his mind.
So many negative thoughts crept in.
What could I have changed?
It’s funny, he thought, that the announcers thought it was nerves at the beginning of the match.
He felt fine.
It wasn’t nerves.
He was overthinking how he wanted to start the match.
Let’s focus on that.
He breathed in.
Breathed in a little more.
And then breathed in a little more, expanding his lungs.
And then let all the air out and repeated the same process several times.
Do smokers realize they’re meditating?
Did they not realize they were meditating but in a negative way?

Match on replay

Casper pulled in all the air he could hold and reversed the process by letting some air out, pausing, letting more out, pausing again, and then releasing the rest.
After a few minutes, he felt light and approached the “void.”
He replayed the first game in his head.
It didn’t go the way he had planned.
At 30-0, he tried to flight the combo and hit one shot long.
That error carried over to the next point, and he missed the first shot.
For the next few minutes, he focused on landing the backhand deep in the court and adding another shot to the pattern….
He focused on a four-shot combination.
He focused on hitting a forehand that landed in the center of the Ad side, then the backhand hitting the center of the court…THEN the next backhand landing towards the corner of the Ad side, and the next shot, a forehand, landing deep at the center of the court, and finally an aggressive forehand into the Deuce side.
He repeated the process and then created a few different outcomes.
Sometimes losing the point.
Sometimes winning the point.
When he thought about losing the point, he focused on his composure until he felt entirely relaxed.
During the last six months, he noticed a big difference in how he could quickly process and recoup after the point ended.
Casper was not sure how much time had passed.
Did it matter?

Visualization is the name of the game

When he finished the first process, he focused on the return game at 6-5 in the third set.
He felt frustration and anger as he thought about the game.
He repeated the breathing process until the negative thoughts went away.
And then, he focused on different outcomes again.
He was starting to feel exhausted.
His body was shaking, and he heard a voice…
”Casper…” someone said.
It sounded like his father.
Casper opened his eyes and saw his father’s face.
“Buddy, you good?”
Casper had been lying on the ground.
“Yeah. I’m good.”
“How far did you get?”
“Recreating the ending of the third set.”
“How many outcomes? Did you win every one?”
In the past, when he first started meditation, he visualized only winning. Now he focused on both sides.
Winning and losing.
And started focusing more on his body language.
“How long has it been?” Casper asked.
“It’s been an hour,” Christian said.
They both smiled.
Casper was getting much better with the process and was feeling the benefits.
The hardest part was learning to focus on accepting the outcome.
Feeling a radical form of acceptance.
This played a major role in breaking down the mental barriers holding him back.
Imagine if some of the other players on tour worked on this, he thought.

Fatherly love

“Do you mind if I spend another few minutes on this?”
“Son, not at all. Take your time. This is important for your tennis and your life.”
“I appreciate it, Dad. I appreciate what you have done for me. I wouldn’t be in this position without you.”
Christian smiled.
“I love you,” Casper said.
Christian felt his eyes start to water. He patted his son with his left hand and wiped his eyes with the other.
He turned and walked out of the room.
Casper went back to breathing and finished the session by feeling compassion for Carlos.
And then turning it into self-compassion.
Carlos didn’t know it yet,
But he is going to get him next time.

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