Marat Safin sat down and poured himself a shot of vodka. Ahh... there was nothing like good vodka and the bellboy in his hotel had managed to find him a fifth of Chopin, one of his favorites. He had to do something to kill the time since his flight wasn't due to leave until tomorrow afternoon and he was too bummed to go out clubbing, so that left one thing: get drunk.
Marat was in Shanghai for the year-end ATP tournament and he was pissed and bummed all at the same time. How could he lose all three of his matches? He had a chance to end the year number two and he blew it! He'd started the year on a high note, reaching the final of the Australian Open, but then lost in a shocking upset to the unheralded, but underrated, Thomas Johansson. After that his year and life went into a tailspin. Sure he won his fair share of matches, enough to keep him near the top of the ATP Race, but he couldn't win a tournament to save his life. Well, up until a couple of weeks ago at the Paris Masters. But that was small consolation for all the chances he'd missed. No matter how he did in the Davis Cup Finals, he had to do something about his game.
He poured himself another shot and was about to drink it when there was a knock at the door. 'Room Service,' came the call. Marat downed the shot and went to open the door. It was his dinner, and it was being delivered by the same bellboy who'd found him the vodka. As he signed the room service bill, Marat picked up his wallet to give the bellboy some American dollars for his troubles. It was then that the old, tattered business card fell to the floor.
After the bellboy left, Marat picked up the card. It was the card of a sports psychologist given to him by Patrick Rafter just after the Australian Open that year. He'd totally forgotten about it. Apparently Rafter had experienced great success with his game after seeing the guy but stopped seeing him after his surgery and when he left the tour. Marat fingered the card. He decided he would call the man and picked up the phone.
Boca Raton, Florida
Three weeks later, Marat was sitting in the waiting room of the Boca Raton, Florida office Dr. Benjamin Foster, Sports Psychologist. He was a bit early and flipped through a magazine as he waited.
Dr. Benjamin Foster had a thriving sports psychology practice, most of his patients being young up and coming players from the numerous tennis academies in the area. Normally he didn't take on new patients because he was so busy, but when he got the message that Marat Safin wanted to make an appointment... well...
Sitting at his desk he pored over the dossier he'd prepared on Marat since he received the initial call. He knew Safin had a temper. You'd have to be an idiot not to know that. His history of breaking rackets was practically legend. And he had a revolving door of coaches which may have accounted for his bizarre losses to players who he should, on paper at least, have easily beaten. But then on the other hand, Safin had his fair share of easy victories over players he should have, quite frankly, struggled against. The guy was an enigma. A challenge. Ben Foster liked a challenge.
He was chomping at the bit to get a crack at Marat Safin. Marat, in his initial call, had mentioned that he had been referred by Patrick Rafter and the thought of the Aussie brought back several fond memories for Ben. Of course, most of them involved Patrick clad in his underwear, or less, on the couch, lying across his lap or servicing him. You see, in addition to being a top-notch sports psychologist, Ben Foster was also an accomplished hypnotist. It was a skill he discovered by accident one day while in a session with Patrick Rafter, of all people. The two had been talking about volleying. Patrick was upset that he'd been missing some crucial volleys at critical junctures in matches and had asked Ben if there was any way he could help him to keep his eye on the ball better, to concentrate more on each point rather than on the game in ins entirety. Ben said he'd think about it and have something by their next session.
The next time they met, less than a week later, Ben had come up with an idea. He dimmed the lights in the office and took a red laser pen and aimed it at a blank wall. It was a small red circular light. Then, in a low monotone voice, he told Patrick to concentrate on the spot as he slowly moved it around and around. Before long, he realized that Patrick had slipped into a light hypnotic trance. In their subsequent sessions Ben had deepened the trance until by just the uttering of certain phrase he could get Patrick to slip into a deep sleep.
Oh, those were the days. First he started off very shyly, just touching and caressing Rafter's exquisite body. Patrick never caught on, either. Ben was very careful. He always instilled the thought that they'd worked on some sort of problem, when, in reality, most of the session was a grab-ass time, with Patrick bouncing up and down on Ben's knee while Ben twisted and tweaked his nipples and jerked him off.
When Patrick had undergone knee surgery the visits became fewer and fewer. Then he left the tour completely and the visits stopped completely. Oh, there was the occasional telephone call or fax, but Ben had still felt sad.
Until Tommy Haas had shown up in his waiting room one day, unannounced, that is. Tommy was a hot young German prospect who hadn't been living up to his potential. He'd heard of Ben through Patrick and decided to give him a try. Ben employed the same techniques he had with Rafter with equal success, helping Tommy to learn to deal with the pressure that his home country was putting on him to be the next big thing. As hot as Patrick Rafter was, Tommy Haas was a god. Dark thick hair and smoldering brown eyes... and the best ass, bar none, on the tour. If you thought Patrick Rafter looked hot in his underwear, you should see Tommy Haas! Now that boy can fill out a pair of briefs!
Tommy and Patrick were basically the same type of guy. Shy and unassuming. The one thing that didn't work in Ben's favor was that in addition to having steady girlfriends, they had a connection with their coaches. Soon after beginning his sessions with Ben, Tommy had gotten back together with his former coach and his results had dramatically improved. Therefore, Ben's services weren't needed as often. Tommy still came by now and then for a 'quick fix' and, like Ben's sessions with Rafter, he usually ended up scantily clad, servicing the handsome doctor.
But Ben wasn't too worried. With all his patients from the tennis academies he was kept busy. And now that he was mastering hypnosis, when he found a patient he took a liking to, he began to experiment. No kids, though. For Ben they had to be at least 16 and then, it wasn't anything more than a quick feel up or a series of photos. Well, that wasn't necessarily true. If the guy was a real hottie, Ben would 'program' him to do the 'extras.'
Now there was Marat Safin. The 6'4', 195-pound hunky Russian stud with the smiling eyes and the matinee idol looks. Not to mention the beautiful body. Oh, this was going to be fun. Unlike Patrick and Tommy, Marat was less reserved. He was outspoken and outgoing. His post-match interviews were, at times, a laugh riot. He wasn't afraid to list his flaws and Ben found that an attractive quality. He wanted to instill into Marat that the kind of behavior he exhibited on court at times was okay, as long as the energy was channeled in a positive manner.
But what intrigued Ben was that Marat didn't have a full-time coach. He looked at his information on Marat again. With all the coaches and advisors he'd had over the past couple of years, it was no wonder his game was as up and down as it was. Maybe since he didn't have a full time coach he'd visit Ben more often.
Ben looked at his watch. It was almost 4:00 p.m.; time for Marat's appointment. He had purposely scheduled it as his last appointment. There was a light knock at his door and his attractive nurse, Tamara, showed Marat in.
Usually Marat was very charming and disarming, but today he was nervous. He'd never seen a psychologist before and looked uneasy. He smiled a forced smile at Ben and shook his hand. Ben looked into Marat's bright eyes and smiled back. Oh shit... this was going to be fun.
'I take it you feel a little nervous about being here, don't you?' Ben asked, trying to put Marat at ease. He gestured for the Russian stud to take a seat on the soft leather couch opposite his desk.
Marat forced another smile. 'Sports Psychologist,' he said, his accent so sexy. 'Makes it sound like I'm um... like I'm unstable. Crazy.'
'An unstable man doesn't end up number three in the world,' Ben countered in a gentle, rational tone. 'And a crazy man certainly doesn't win the U.S. Open. At least not the way you did when you beat Pete.' It was good, old-fashioned ego stroking and it was doing the trick.
Ben then cued up a highlight clip of a recent a Safin loss. It was a match he should have won. Marat was visibly disgusted with himself.
'Look at how your shoulders are slumped and how you're slouching there,' Ben said, pointing to the screen. 'Your body language is no good. You're telling the other guy that if he hits one more ball, the point is his.'
'But that's not true,' Marat said shaking his head. He shrugged his shoulders and cocked his head to the side. 'I get frustrated. Things don't go my way.'
'I think that's something we can work on,' Ben said. 'We'll work on your consistency and concentration.'
'But I'm not like the other guys,' Marat persisted. 'When I play tennis, I play with my heart, not always my head. I know, I know... that's not always so good, but that's me. That's Marat.'
'Yes, I know that,' Ben said, agreeing. 'But just because you're frustrated doesn't mean your opponent has to know you're frustrated or how frustrated you are. Think about Mats Wilander, your old coach. Or if you want to think about the ladies, think about Chris Evert. They were both great champions, right? But neither of them was the best player to have ever played the game, right? What did they have in common? Think about it. When they played their opponents never knew what they were thinking, whether if they were winning or losing. They were as cool as a cucumber. Now I'm not saying that's how you should be out there because that's not your game. But you can do things to keep your emotions under control. There are things I can show you. Mental exercises you can do. The guys in the locker room know how good you are, but they also know that they can beat you if they just hang in there. That's something we've gotta change. Wouldn't you agree?'
'Yes,' Marat said, now eagerly sitting forward, knowing Ben was right. 'What do I need to do.'
'First off, I want to start with some mental exercises; things to help you focus.' He turned around and took a metronome from the credenza behind him and placed it on his desk.
'What's that?' Marat asked.
'It's a metronome,' Ben explained, as he wound the key. 'It's used to keep time, like with piano lessons. But I've found it helpful in my sessions as well. You see, this circular disk here swings back and forth in different intervals depending on the setting.'
Marat shrugged his shoulders. 'I don't get it.'
Ben smiled. 'You don't need to understand it right now. What I want you to is watch the pendulum as it swings back and forth and concentrate on its movements. Just watch it move back and forth. Try to block out everything else. By doing this I believe it will help you to focus better and that will ultimately help your tennis.'
Marat laughed. It was an infectious, sexy laugh. 'Sounds like hypnosis. You know, 'you are getting sleepy'.'
Ben laughed, too, but kept his composure. He quickly formulated a response. 'You know, when you put it that way, it does sound like some kind of mumbo jumbo, doesn't it? But believe me, that's not the case.' He waited a few seconds to see if Marat had taken the bait.
Marat considered what Ben said for a few moments and then nodded, his lips pursed. 'Okay, sure. Let's do it.'
'Good. Okay. Now, I want you to understand right up front that this isn't a sure-fire, over-night cure,' Ben advised. 'You may need to come back several more times.'
Marat nodded. 'I understand... but I need to get my game together. I really want to be number one. Right now I'll try anything.'
'Good,' Ben said again. That's what he wanted to hear. 'That's good to hear. Now then, I want you to sit back on the couch and relax. That's the real key here: relax. Just let your mind flow. I'm going to dim the lights in the room and close the blinds.'
He set the metronome to a medium pace and released the lever. It swung back and forth in time, clicking once every second. He had a small spotlight mounted on the wall behind the couch, positioned so that the metallic disk would past through its beam during each pass. If Marat was truly concentrating and watching the pendulum swinging back and forth, the light would bounce off the disk and flash directly into his eyes.
As the metronome swept from side to side Ben watched Marat's eyes. They were following the round disk as it moved back and forth in its steady methodical rhythm. If he noticed the brief flash striking his eyes each time the metronome reached the top, he didn't say anything. As Ben kept watching, he noticed that Marat blinked each time the flash hit his eyes. Just like clockwork. He smiled and began to speak softly.
'Marat,' he started slowly, 'don't you find it relaxing as you watch the disk swinging back and forth?' Marat slowly nodded and Ben continued. 'Yeah, nice and relaxing. Very relaxing. My voice is very relaxing, too? Don't you think so?' Again Marat nodded. 'In fact,' Ben said, 'when you hear my voice you'll find your stress and frustrations start to go away.'
Marat kept focused on the pendulum. His eyes were beginning to droop. 'Just keep watching the disk, Marat,' Ben encouraged, his voice low and soft. 'It's so relaxing. You might even feel a little tired, but that's okay. You might realize that the more you blink the more you want to just keep your eyes closed. And that's okay, too. You're so relaxed right now. In fact, the more you listen to my voice and the more you blink, the more you'll think that it would be so nice to just close your eyes for a few seconds. Just for a few seconds because you're so tired and it would feel so good.'
Ben watched as the big tennis player blinked more and more frequently. His jaw slackened and his lips parted ever so slightly. His eyes, already heavy lidded, began to glaze over. 'That's right, Marat,' Ben said lowly, his voice just barely above a whisper. 'That's right. You feel sleepy, so tired. You just want to close your eyes and sleep, and it's okay. It's okay if you close your eyes and take a little nap.'
Within the next minute Marat's eyes closed and didn't open again. The sound of the metronome clicking back and forth was the only sound in the room, besides the steady breathing of the hypnotized tennis stud. Ben watched as Marat's chest rose and fell in a slow even pattern. He was sleeping, a look of bliss on his face.
Ben stood up and walked around his desk. He sat down on the edge of his desk and leaned forward. 'Can you hear me, Marat?' he asked softly.
Marat nodded. 'Yes,' he replied, his voice quiet, peaceful.
'How do you feel?'
'That's good,' Ben said, pleased that his strategy had worked so well and so quickly. 'You like feeling this way, don't you, Marat?' he asked, and Marat again nodded.
'Okay then. When you hear me say the words 'drop shot' you will fall into this state again, but even deeper. You will feel even more relaxed. But only when I say those words. Do you understand?'
'The sound of my voice is soothing to you and you want to listen to everything I have to say, don't you?'
'That's right. You will obey everything I tell you to do, without question. Do you understand me, Marat?'
Marat nodded again. 'Yes.'
Ben smiled. 'Oh, that's very good, Marat. Very good. You will obey everything I say. Do you understand?'
'Yes, I will obey everything you say.'
Excellent! Ben smiled. 'Good, Marat. Now, I'm going to count to three. When I reach three you're going to wake up but you won't remember anything that we talked about. In fact, whenever you wake up from one of these states you'll have no memory of what has happened. You will only feel relaxed and comfortable. Do you understand?'
Ben walked around his desk and sat back down. 'One... two... three.'
Marat opened his eyes and looked around the room. 'Ooops. I think I fell asleep for a minute,' he said sheepishly. 'I was out late last night. You know, party. I didn't get much sleep. And then I had a long practice today. I'm tired.'
'Don't worry,' Ben said reassuringly. 'You did good with the concentration.'
Marat seemed pleased. 'Really? Do you think you can help me?'
'Yes,' Ben replied. 'I think I really can. How about we schedule a few more appointments?'
'For sure,' Marat said. 'I have to check my practice schedule, but I can call you tomorrow to let you know.'
'That works for me,' Ben said. 'I guess we're done then for this session. It was really nice to meet you and I look forward to working with you.' He shook Marat's hand.
As Marat turned to leave, Ben called after him. 'Hey Marat. How is your 'drop shot'?' Instantly Marat froze. The phrase worked. Now to test how well it worked.
'Turn around and walk toward me,' Ben ordered. Marat spun on his heel and walked over to Ben. His eyes were open but vacant.
'Open your mouth, just a little.'
Marat opened his mouth and Ben slipped his finger in. 'Now suck on it,' he commanded, and Marat did so. He slid his finger in and out. 'You like how this feels.' It wasn't a suggestion; it was a command.
As Marat sucked on Ben's finger, Ben slid his hand down his chest and to his waist. He cupped the tennis player's crotch and gave it a squeeze. A small moan escaped his lips. 'Yes,' Ben said. 'You like how that feels, too.' Marat just nodded as he sucked away.
'Now Marat, I'm going to wake you up and once again you won't remember anything that happened. All you'll remember is that your appointment is over and you're leaving. But as soon as you get back home, you will call me and we'll set up more appointments, okay?'
Ben pulled his finger from the stud's mouth and handed him a card. 'This has my home number and cell phone number on it. Take it and put it in your wallet.'
Marat did so and Ben counted him out of his trance and watched as he left the office. He couldn't help but notice his nice ass and knew that he'd soon have an all access pass to the hunky tennis player's body.
Later that evening while Ben was sitting on his couch, fondling the body of the seventeen year old tennis academy student who was lying across his lap in nothing but his underwear, the phone rang. It was Marat, calling to schedule a series of appointments. Ben was so excited that he almost forgot about the studlet on his lap.
To be continued...