After two hours of play, Clijsters was in position to serve for the Championship Title. She had previously lost her serve six different times during the match. But in this most critical game with everything on the line, Kim Clijsters turned it up a notch. No…. let’s correct that. She actually turned it up three or four notches. Clijsters won every single point in that final game!
The interview after the match was both interesting and revealing. Clijsters was asked how she turned things around when Li Na seemed in control of the match.
Clijsters made several points in her interview:
She was expecting “the best Li Na” to show up for the match. Clijsters knew her opponent would be ready for the match and would be tough to beat.
Clijsters said that even though she felt like she was playing well early in the match, Clijsters knew she was being overpowered by Li Na. As a result, Clijsters adapted and changed things up.
Clijsters also talked about how important it was for her to hang in there (not give up) and to force her opponent to always have to hit one more shot.
So there are several lessons that apply to competition in sports as well as in business and life:
Don’t expect your competition to choke, or give up. Expect the best out of your opponents, and be prepared to give your best effort to WIN. Be adaptable and have the confidence and the determination to succeed.
In the Kevin Costner movie”For the Love of the Game” the major league baseball pitcher Costner portrays concentrates on a single thought in important game situations. "CLEAR THE MECHANISM" is the message Costner constantly replays in his mind. Costner uses this thought to block out crowd noise, focus on his pitching and get the opposing player out !
Clearly, in the final game of the final match of the 2011 women’s Australian Open, Kim Clijsters was able to "Clear the mechanism" and focus on her objective. She may not have seen the movie but she certainly understood the message. Hopefully, Clijsters opponent Li Na can learn from that and move forward. All of us can do the same.