It's almost upon us, the second Grand Slam of the year and my personal favourite to watch. But I'm also looking forward to the French Open because I feel that I am now at a crossroads with my trading and how I perform over the next 2 weeks will be a major indicator of where I'm going.
I am currently at a stage where I have stabilized my trading. There is no longer any 'boom and bust' mode. I've pretty much flattened out the trading graph and have experienced steady, consistent profit for 2 months now. My next step was to gradually up the stakes but I've put that on the back-burner till after Roland Garros, as I've needed to withdraw much of my profit and have been unable to build the bank. Instead, I've concentrated on sticking to my 5 key points, which are as follows:
4. CONTROLLING EMOTIONS
5. PROTECTING THE BANK
I know that whenever I get all 5 of these as close to perfection as I can, I have a successful day. Preparation involves making sure I'm in the right frame of mind, have my goals set and being thorough before I start trading. Focus speaks for itself - just making sure I have no distractions and keeping my mind alert and body comfortable and relaxed during trading plus constantly talking my way through each match. Patience includes waiting for clear opportunites, not rushing into anything at the start of a game and sticking to the strategy. Controlling emotions means not getting frustrated at missed opportunites or players stuffing things up, keeping anger suppressed, not getting over-confident but also knowing when it's best to stop trading to sort my head out. Protecting the bank entails redding-up when required, never letting a trade run into a straight bet, keeping to the staking plan and not neglecting the get-out points.
When all this is in place to a satisfactory standard, it enables me to be a bit more free with my trading. By that I mean occassionally trying out something new or attempting to go with my intuition a bit more than I have done in the past. This has seen immediate improvements in my trading results, which I hope will remain long term. I find there are more and more occassions where I can use my knowledge and experience to be a bit more aggressive and go for opportunities that in the past, I would've been too worried about because they didn't neccessarily fit in exactly with my strategy. I suppose it's 'thinking outside the box' more, taking a few more calculated risks and I like doing this as it fits in perfectly with my personality. It keeps me on my toes, so I'm constantly thinking and learning and I don't become too passive and therefore too bored and lose focus. This is something I'm looking to introduce into my style much more in future, to stop it all becoming too staid.
If I can successfully mould all of this together during Roland Garros, I would say that I'm ready to move into the second half of the season with absolutely no fear of upping my stakes. With an ultra busy first week in Paris, everything I've learnt since the dark days back in March will be fully put to the test and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.
As for the tennis itself, is there any point discussing who will win the men's title? We all know it'll be Rafa or Novak and almost certainly it'll be them in the final too! Only possible candidate for an upset would be Del Potro for me. Soderling seems to have taken a backward step since parting with coach Magnus Norman. He's winning when he should do but always seems to make a meal of it these days, he's not commanding opponents as he does when at his best. Murray is playing very well but if he couldn't beat Djokovic when serving for the match when the Serb looked dead on his feet, I can't see it ever happening. As for Federer, the way things are going he may NEVER beat Rafa or Novak again! I'd love to see him do it but to beat both of them in consecutive matches, which is what he'd have to do in all probability to win, it just aint gonna happen.
If I had to pick an outsider to cause an upset or reach the semis, I'd go with Richard Gasquet, Florian Mayer or Nicolas Almagro. Gasquet can beat almost anyone on his day and is playing well. Confidence must be sky-high after beating Federer in Rome. Mayer is in the form of his life and no-one will want to play him. Almagro is always a danger on clay and has enough weapons in his game to trouble even Nadal if he truly believes it. I just saw him muller Pablo Andujar in Nice and the quality of his tennis was so astounding, he would've given anyone a rough ride. Got a funny feeling Thomas Berdych might do quite well this year too.
It's far more open and interesting with the women. Clijsters is the obvious pick but I will stick my neck out and say she won't win. Too long out the game to just come back and win a major and she wasn't playing well before her latest injury anyway. I know she says she struggles to focus in smaller tournaments and produces her best in the Grand Slams but you don't normally just find form in an instant - she hasn't played a clay court game in over a year! Wozniacki will be hard to beat as always but we know she struggles against big-hitters, especially on clay. I just think she'll come up against someone who will raise their game enough to blast her off the court. And there are a number of players who can do that - Petkovic, Li Na, Goerges, Stosur, Sharapova, Bartoli, Ivanovic, Kuznetsova, Wickmayer. Li is still short on confidence, as is Stosur. Bartoli doesn't move well enough on clay. Wicky has just injured her back. Petkovic has looked very tired of late and along with Goerges, I think it's too soon for them to win a major. Ivanovic is too inconsistent. Kuzzy is hopeless at the moment. Sharapova? Possibly. Gut instinct says 'no'. But my pick of the bunch would be Petra Kvitova. It all depends whether her style of play can work for 2 whole weeks on the slow-clay. I know she won in Madrid but conditions were very fast due to the altitude, which suits her style more.
Schiavone has the perfect game for Roland Garros but I give her zero chance of defending her title on her current form. That leaves Jankovic (brilliant one day, disasterous the next), Azarenka (injury prone) and Zvonareva. If Vika is fit, I really fancy her to go all the way. But it wasn't looking good in Rome. So my pick would be Mad Vera. She has experience of reaching major finals and has enough in her locker to beat a big-hitter aswel as the brain to beat a Woz, JJ or Radwanska. Not been in great form recently but I've just watched her blitz Alex Dulgheru with the sort of play that champions are made of. I'm going with Zvonareva or Kvitova for the title, unless Azarenka has shaken off that arm injury. But watch out for Peng Shuai and Anabel Medina Garrigues - might just cause a big upset or two! Good luck to you all and I'll report back on my progress during week 1.