Williams beaten by hypnosis
MIAMI - Mental preparation is proving to be just as important as physical readiness, as American Meghann Shaughnessy showed.
The world No 22 player said it was the power of hypnosis which helped her stun world No 2 Venus Williams 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 in the fourth round of the US$2.96-million (S$5.3-million) Nasdaq-100 Open on Monday.
Shaughnessy later said that the key to victory was going on court relaxed and having the right attitude - all thanks to her hypnosis tapes.
She said: 'I listen to the CDs at night to put what I want to have in my mind.
'It's just something I do for myself to have positive thoughts in my mind and be at peace with myself.'
Now that her secret to beating Williams is out, other players may be tempted to try it for themselves, although hypnosis is not accepted widely in sports.
But compatriot and ice-skater Mike Weiss is already a big fan of hypnosis.
He mentioned after he qualified for the World Figure Skating Championships in Washington that he used hypnosis to help him fine-tune his concentration.
The US champion, who has gone from working with his hypnotherapist Topher Morrison occasionally to twice a day a week before the world event, said: 'Hypnosis creates a deep concentration. When I'm in one of these sessions, it's almost like that state just before you fall asleep.
'In any event, you have both the mental and the physical, and you have to do whatever you can in preparation to do your best with both elements.'
Said Morrison: 'Part of the resistance to hypnosis is it has been made to seem scary by stage shows.
'People are afraid they're going to be made to quack or bark like dogs. There is a stigma. But that aside, people are beginning to realise it is a powerful tool.
'I think an athlete who works the physical and not the mental isn't tapping into his full potential.'
Shaughnessy is certainly adding the mental training to her improvement in her physical programme.
Much has changed for her in the two years since she beat Williams for the only other time in their seven meetings in Palo Alto, California.
She has added in a deliberate attempt to bulk-up and match the power of Venus and her sister, Serena.
'Women's tennis is becoming more and more physical. I've become stronger, faster, more flexible, more durable,' she said. --AFP, Reuters
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