I thought I'd be writing this in the morning, before the consolation. Turns out I can't sleep, so I'll write this now.
The match with Anthony Cao was a real good match, and he did deserve the win tonight. 4-6 7-6 6-0 was the score. The third set is very telling, but I'll get into that in a sec.
First, the good things I got out of the match.
#1. 11 aces and 34 winners. I never get those kind of numbers, and I'm adding more of those numbers each and every match. Very happy with that.
#2. When I fell behind 4-1 in the first set, I was starting to get frustrated. Serve wasn't going in at all, and my backhand was failing me. Then I said to myself that I flat out wasn't going to get frustrated anymore. I'd literally try out my Bjorn Borg face and let the mistakes be as they may. After that, I took five straight games from Anthony, and took the first set. That was telling for me because I have a tendency to go Ryan Harrison on myself at times, without the racket throwing of course. This time, I just kept my calm the rest of the match.
#3. I saved two service games at love to force the tiebreak. This NEVER happens. I felt great about my serve at points, and not so much at others, but that really felt clutch.
Now the bad things.
#1. I started reverting back to the old game a little more in the second set. My strategy in this tournament was to kind of have a mix of my old hustle game, and a more all around game so that I could phase my way into this new game I'm working on. Second set, I found myself forcing everything and pushing a little more, which doesn't make me happy at all. Even with all that, he took the second set, and it frustrated me, which will lead into why the bagel in the third(that in a sec)
#2. Went three straight games without a first serve going in at all. That's the other part of the service game I'm not proud of whatsoever. No consistency.
Now the bagel.
After losing that second set, I had an inner frustration. I don't lose those too often, and he got me this time. It was a reminder that this is a higher level now, and I can't play like that anymore. I just decided that I was either going to win big or lose big for the third set, and see what happened. I started going for more second serves(which is normally a tap over), went for every smash(which sometimes I'm skittish on), torqued every forehand and backhand, everything. I was trying to construct points, and basically playing a game that I'm nowhere near accustomed to at all.
WAY too many errors. I had a couple winners out of it, and a couple more aces, but that didn't make up for the errors at all. 6-0 in 18 minutes. I knew one of us was going to bagel. I either play lights out this way, and he doesn't get a point, or I bomb miserably. You know what happened.
I did this because I have to get it in my head to quit playing the old way. Losing that second set reminded me that this wasn't Kansas anymore. I can't just wear people into submission and hustle my way to wins. It's time to make this work, whether I bomb or succeed. Some people won't believe me, but who cares. I knew what I had to do, and what I have to do in the future.
So tomorrow morning, 9 AM, is consolation. Hopefully Sunday too. I hated losing, but I'd still love to go home with some hardware for some more momentum. I know the wins will come as time goes on. I just have to have patience.