Tennis Tip: Ivan Lendl taught me to "Never Change Something That Works"
by Christo Van Rensburg on June 27th, 2013

Today’s tip comes from a doubles match I played with one of the best tennis players in the world, IVAN LENDL.  He had so many records but the 2 most amazing achievements that stands out to me is:
8 straight US-Open singles finals.
4 singles titles in 4 weeks on 4 different continents

Lendl and I were playing doubles in Marseille, France.

Lendl was serving to the deuce side, to the opponent's backhand.  We were in the 2nd set and it was Lendl’s 4th service game of the match.  I turned around after once again we were up 15-0, having just won the first point on Lendl's serve AGAIN. 
I said, "You know that you have not served one serve to this guy’s forehand on the deuce side". He replied with a question, "Have we lost any points yet" ?  
You all guessed it!  We had not lost a single point by serving the same serve over and over and over and over and oovvvverrrrrrr. 

We had won the first set and Lendl was serving for the match at 40-15.  I was at the net waiting for him to serve us to the next round as I hear him calling me over.  Quietly he whispered "Now I will mix it up and serve to the forehand, just for you".  Obviously we both had a grin on our faces while getting ready for the matchpoint to be played. His serve came by me, like a rocket, straight to the guys backhand AGAAAIN and we won the match.  Never had I played a match in which an opponent never returned a forehand, or should I say, returned the same stroke every time for a whole match.
Now you know the humor of Lendl who became one of my best friends, and tutor. 

After the match in the locker room he called me over and with a big smile he asked me if I liked the way he "MIXED UP THE SERVE TO THE DEUCE SIDE TODAY".

My reponse after a big laugh was "what were you going to do if this guy was going to start returning better. By doing the same thing, he could have got rhythm and got better as the match continued". 

With a simple reply he asked me "did he get better" ?  and then he smiled and walked away. 

That night at the dinner table, like always, we were joking around about the funny things that happened that day in our matches.  After still enjoying how he fooled me on the match point serve, he turned to me and said: "NEVER CHANGE SOMETHING THAT WORKS FOR YOU IN A MATCH. Let the opponent change first, because you do not know if he can change". 

If you have just won the point, do the same thing again as soon as you can.

What was about to be just a funny story, turned out to be the best tip of my life and now yours too.  This way you will always focus on what you are doing well.
Look for those points that will take you to match point before your opponents and use them as many times as you can. 

Ivan Lendl is a true friend of mine and I was fortunate to be a guest at his wedding.  Now the wedding day, that was another story of how he tricked me AGAIN in believing it was something else.  Everyone at the wedding knew that he told me it was a formal lunch and presentation of his green card, and that I had to dress formal.  What a shock it was when they ushered me to this room with chairs facing forward and pretty flowers down the aisle and everyone paying attention to how I would react.  As he walked into the room our eyes met and I got that same smile that I've seen in Marseille.  
One of the most funniest guys off the court and someone who likes to tease and play pranks, taught me not only about tennis strategy, but also valuable life lessons.
Today we are still good friends and someone who played a major part in me being ranked in the top 20 in singles and #1 in doubles with my friend Paul Annacone.

I was fortunate to be part of a prank in the surprising 50th of Lendl.
Kudos for Samantha, his wife, in pulling that off. 
If you like my tips tell your friends, but not your opponents!!!!!!!

Remember if you can not play like a pro,
You can still think like a pro.
...because as my lovely daughter once said:
"if you're mad or sad, you play bad"

Let me know if these tips have helped you! 
Visit me at 
Do not forget to check out my other venture at 

Posted in Tennis Tips    Tagged with Tennis Tips


Leave a Comment