PART II MASTERING THE PRACTICE OF MIND-BOOY RUNNING FOUR COMFORT ZONES When it is going your way, it is going your way. Brent Musberger THE MEN’S FINAL OF THE 2009 AUSTRALIAN OPEN was an epic, five-set, four-and-a-half-hour war between the two greatest tennis players of this generation: Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerland. Down two sets to one, Federer took control of the third set, playing aggressively, hitting brilliant winners, and forcing Nadal to be reactive.
Federer won the set 6-3 and seemed poised to wrap up his record-breaking 15th Grand Slam victory in the fifth and final set. But Federer turned tentative in that set, and Nadal seized the advantage. Serving down one game to two, Federer made several unforced errors and lost the game.
The commentators covering the match on television described that moment as a decisive momentum shift in favor of Nadal, who went on to win the set 6 2, and the match. Momentum is talked about a lot in tennis, basketball, and other sports that pit opponents, whether teams or individuals, against each other. When used in sporting contexts, the word momentum does not have quite the same meaning as physical momentum, which is defined as a force equal to the mass of a moving body multiplied by its speed. The product of this calculation also represents the amount of force required to stop a moving body. In colloquial usage, momentum conveys the idea that a thing is hard to stop. A runaway tractor-trailer barreling down a mountain highway has momentum it is hard to stop in the most literal sense. But a writer who has worked his way into a rhythm with his current book project, such that those halting, hair-pulling early days are behind him and he now sits down in front of the computer each morning feeling assured that he will make good progress,
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