Superstitions run rampant throughout sport, and it's nothing new for athletes to lose focus once tradition is thrown out of the window.
That may go some way to explaining tennis star Adrian Mannarino's straight-sets defeat to Jannik Sinner in the third round of Indian Wells on Monday evening. Sinner, 21, rarely looked out of his comfort zone during the game and sent Mannarino packing 7-6(7), 6-4, with the No. 11 seed set to square off against Stanislas Wawrinka next.
But it might have been Mannarino lining up against the Swiss ace if he had his way ahead of facing Sinner. That's after one fan was angrily reminded of one very particular preference the 34-year-old has when it comes to his preparation—or lack thereof.
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"Fun fact by Arnaud Clement on Eurosport just now," tweeted tennis journalist Bastien Fachan. "Adrian Mannarino never wants to know his opponent until 10 minutes before taking to the court, and while signing autographs earlier today, a fan told him, 'Good luck later against Sinner!', which allegedly infuriated Mannarino lol."
It's an interesting strategy, and one that some might suggest leaves too many potential holes in one's game to be truly effective. Former French Open semi-finalist Ivan Ljubicic replied to Fachan's tweet, suggesting Mannarino's method "shows how much he puts into tactics."
Heard of a stranger superstition than Adrian Mannarino's preference for anonymity? Let us know in the comments section.
However, there are understandably positives to be gained from not knowing whom one will face in future. Namely, Mannarino has hinted at the mental exhaustion one can suffer from fretting over their foe.
"I've just always tried to focus on what I'm supposed to be doing," he told Tennis Net last year. "I don't want to overthink things.
"This also includes not worrying too much about the next match. You only lose energy when you think about how your opponent might plan their game.
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"I want to keep things simple. I always sleep well the night before a match because I don't even know who I'm playing against. My coach usually tells me who I'm playing against an hour before the match starts. From that point on, we develop a plan. Before that, it wouldn't make sense for me to waste energy with it."
Whether the fan in question at Indian Wells knew of Mannarino's mantra prior to spoiling his day, only they will know. It may not have made much difference considering Sinner has dominated their head-to-head record, however, clinching his third victory over the veteran in as many meetings on Monday.
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