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He admits he still has lapses, but being down a set — as he was against Anderson — rarely begets a return to crippling negativity- In addition to the title above, what is the meaning of the sentence?

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The article is about a tennis tournament. A typical tennis tournament is single-elimination -- if you lose one match, you are out of the tournament. A tennis match consists of (up to five) sets, which consist of games, which consist of points.

Being down a set is therefore a big deal, in the context of a tennis match.

According to the article, the tennis player in question had a very long losing streak. He also seems to have trouble controlling his anger. Many people who have long losing streaks become depressed, and have lots of "negative" thoughts.

It seems that the tennis player sometimes still has some negative thoughts, but he has learned to control them (at least enough to stop losing all the time).

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