Mats Wilander, a former world number one who says all fist pumps should be shown to your opponent, tells The Tennis Space how to have strong body language on court:
Do not pump your fist as Roger Federer does.
“Federer always seems to do his fist pumps when he has his back turned to his opponent, so what is the point of that? When you do your fist pump, you want your opponent to see it. You’re trying to fire yourself up, and to show your opponent that you mean business, so doing a fist pump when you’re facing the other way, that’s just pointless. You’re trying to show your opponent that you’re for real. You want to make sure that your opponent can’t miss it.
“You can’t be so proud that you assume your game is always going to be good enough to win matches; sometimes, you need to be in an opponent’s head, even a little bit. So, please, don’t copy Roger here. Try to be a bit more like Lleyton Hewitt, and fill your matches with fist pumps.”
Never give your opponent anything.
“If you miss a shot, and think that you should have taken a different option – perhaps you went for the passing shot, and now think a lob should have been better – don’t let your opponent know. Don’t say anything, and don’t go through the motions of playing the shot that you should have played. Don’t do it.”
Anger is okay, but disappointment isn’t.
“Anger lets your opponent know that you care. But you have to snap out of it fast. Just look at McEnroe – he goes crazy, and then he forgets about. But disappointment, with the sloping shoulders and the dropped head, that’s not good. That tells your opponent that you are having negative thoughts, that you’re living in the past and that you’re going to be playing some shitty tennis. Anything like encourages your opponent. Body language is important, because it sends messages to your opponent.
“Would players like Marat Safin and Andy Murray be better players if their body language was better? Maybe not. But you can be sure that their opponents would have played worse tennis, because they would have looked down the court and seen that the guy was up for it. You don’t want to give your opponent anything for free. Show them that you’re out there to fight.”
Mats Wilander competes on the ATP Champions Tour which culminates at the Royal Albert Hall in December. For more information go to www.atpchampionstour.com and for tickets to the Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall call 0207 0704404 or go to www.aegonmasterstennis.com/tickets/