One week from today I’ll get on a plane, fly to Phoenix and drive over to Surprise, Arizona for the first stop of the 2012 PowerShares Series.
I’ve been hitting four days a week in NYC since I returned from Davis Cup in Spain, playing sets most of those days to get my body and, just as importantly, my mind ready for the battle ahead. I haven’t played a live match (with an umpire, crowd, etc) in a few months' time so I’ve been putting a real emphasis on concentration in my practice matches. The last match I played was up in Montreal in early August against Michael Chang during the Rogers Cup WTA event (sorry, I don’t count the exhibition with Kevin James as my doubles partner at the U.S. Open as a live match) so I want to make sure my brain is battle ready for the stress of the one-set matches ahead.
On the PowerShares Series we play in shootout-type tournaments where there is little room for error. A one-set match can be over very quickly if you start slowly and get behind early on. Being down 3-0 in a best-of-three sets match isn’t a real cause for concern, but it absolutely is when you’re playing a one-set match. It took me a few tournaments last year to get used to the format, but now that I know what I’m dealing with I’ll be better equipped for it in 2012. The key for me is to make sure I am good and warmed up physically and ready to go from first ball mentally. There’s no “feeling” your way into these matches. It’s a sprint from first ball.
I played a good hard set in practice today. I was sharp. I am ready. I am tired of waiting.
—Jim, October 4, 2012