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It's 1-all, you're 9-6 down. How do you play?

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It's one game all, you're 9-6 down, one serve left. How do you approach the final points of this pivotal game?

1) Attack and take risks to claw back the deficit?

2) Keep it tight, hoping your opponent will feel the pressure and make mistakes?

3) Take a deep breath and aim to play the next points at 110%?

4) Sigh and mentally prepare for the next game. You can still come back from 2-1?

Tom Lodziak
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 58

Good question!

In this situation, I try to stay calm and be positive. In many ways the pressure is on the other player. He has has the lead and has to close out the game. If I can win this point it's 9-7. Then one more point and it-s 9-8 and the pressure really builds. It's very common to win two points in a row, so why not now? 

How aggressive I play would depend on the context of the match. If I had been winning points by attacking in the first two games, then this would seem a sensible strategy. If I had success winning points in a different way, e.g. heavy pushes or blocks, then I may use this strategy.

But I would never give-up on a 9-6 score line. The lead isn't that big and can easily be turned around. I always feel if I can finish a game strongly, I can take that momentum into the next game. So if I were losing 10-3, my goal would be to win some points and get it back to 10-6, 10-7 or 10-8. I'm unlikely to make a full comeback (it happens occasionally), but those few points gained can help build confidence for the next game.

So from your options, I would go for number 3. Try to play the best I can and give my opponent something to worry about.