How Wives Contest the Australian Open Men’s Tennis Final

how wives contest the Australian Open

The Australian Open Tennis final is contested by Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who both relatively recently got married.

There is a new theory in psychology that contends marriage impacts the male competitive spirit and even suggests that it’s these background issues in the personal lives of elite players that could ultimately dictate the outcome of sporting contests like the Australian Open Tennis Final.

A study entitled, “Marriage affects competitive performance in male tennis players,” by psychologists Daniel Farrelly and Daniel Nettle, found that professional male tennis players perform significantly worse in the year after their marriage, compared to the year before, whereas there is no such effect for unmarried players of the same age.

 The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, suggest that following marriage, men experience a psychological mechanism that has evolved over many generations from our ancient past, and which inevitably leads to less motivation to engage in competition.

Farrelly and Nettle investigated male tennis players who appeared in the top 100 players in the ATP singles rankings at the end of each year from 1995 to 2005.

The Impact of Marriage

Their investigation found married players suffered a significant decrease in ranking points between the year before getting married, and the year after, whereas there was no such difference in performance for unmarried players, during the corresponding time period.

Married players also suffered a significant decrease in winning percentages between the corresponding years, whereas there was no such difference in performance for unmarried players.

But married players may not be suffering decreased competitive drive, but merely less ability to commit to tournaments around the world. The authors of this study, based at the University of Worcester and the University of Newcastle, argue that their results indicate this scenario does not seem to be the case.

Success in actually winning matches significantly decreased following marriage.

This result is possibly produced by reductions in the levels of hormone Testosterone, which men experience as a result of marriage. Testosterone is found in much higher levels in men compared to women, and is associated with aggression, competitiveness, dominance and risk-taking.
Testosterone is thought to be important in winning in sports and other adversarial encounters between men.

Psychologists argue that men compete in sports, and other activities (practically anything in fact), to become ‘top dog’ as this image then makes them more attractive to the opposite sex.

The need to beat others is therefore an evolved motivation in male psychology. It could be said to be genetically wired into the male brain.

In ancient times, moving up the hierarchy of the tribe was a sexual strategy for men. Being seen as superior in physical and mental prowess gains greater opportunities to mate with more desirable women, through increased status, according to this theory.

Competing successfully in adversarial encounters with other men, in our ancestral environments, led to maximizing male reproductive success – passing on more genes to future generations.

How Wives Contest the Australian Open Men’s Tennis Final

Dr. Raj Persaud & Dr. Peter Bruggen

Dr. Raj Persaud & Dr. Peter Bruggen are regular contributors to Psych Central Professional. Dr. Rajendra Persaud, also known as Raj Persaud, is a leading consultant psychiatrist, broadcaster and author of popular books about psychiatry. He is well known for raising public awareness of psychiatric and mental health issues in the general media. He has published five popular books and has received numerous awards. The Times recently placed him as one of the Top Twenty Mental Health Gurus in the world.

Dr. Peter Bruggen was part of the UK Royal College of Psychiatrist's Podcast Editor Team, with Dr. Persaud. From 1969 to 1994 he was a consultant psychiatrist at Hill End Adolescent Unit, St Albans. He was also a consultant psychiatrist from 1969-90 at the Tavistock Clinic. His work has featured family therapy at the death bed, working with families in the community rather than admitting adolescents to hospital, and staff relationships. Dr. Bruggen has also written three books, including Surviving Adolescence and Helping Families (both with Charles O'Brien), and Who Cares? True Stories of the NHS Reforms, for which he conducted face-to-face interviews with one-hundred people.


APA Reference
Dr. Peter Bruggen, D. (2019). How Wives Contest the Australian Open Men’s Tennis Final. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 17, 2019, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Sep 2019
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Sep 2019
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