'Practice makes perfect', so the saying goes. As I discovered while watching the action around the Grounds in the days leading up to The Championships, it's an idea that's certainly not taken lightly by players and coaches alike. Despite following strict regimes all year round to maximise their chances of success, these last few days before the world's oldest tennis event are crucial.
To the participants, honing their ability on the courts that will see their own personal successes and failures in the weeks ahead is of the highest importance, as is becoming accustomed to the atmosphere here at Wimbledon (especially for first timers). Obviously there's the skills-based element of training sessions, and players are seen discussing tactics with their respective coaches in an understandably more light-hearted manner than during genuine matches.
Emphasis is on particular strokes that need improvement, with backhand after backhand delivered until a stage as near to perfection as possible is reached. At times, players may even opt to abandon the racket completely in favour of drills to sustain their fitness, but this is less common now that preparation is nearly at an end.
It's difficult to comprehend what must be going through each player's mind as they wait for the beginning of The Championships 2013, but a drive and determination to succeed was displayed by every one of those I watched practising this morning.
Rafael Nadal, drawing a comparatively small crowd to that which he will during the tournament itself, expressed his competitive nature through grimacing in frustration each time one of his shots hit the net. He was, however, relaxed enough to take part in a couple of humorous exchanges with members of his coaching team, some of whom were interacting with spectators. Along with the absence of ball boys and girls as well as officials, this gave the affair an entirely different feel to a Championship match. Spectators, whether tennis aficionados or Wimbledon employees merely passing by, seemed delighted by the opportunity to watch one of tennis's biggest stars in an environment with considerably less pressure, and also to be observing from such a short distance.
With Wimbledon 2013 set to be as thrilling as ever, we can be confident that the players' hard work will pay off, ensuring numerous exciting matches and ultimately, an elite group of triumphant champions.