World No.2 Novak Djokovic claims giving up “pizza, pasta and bread” has made him a better player.
The Serbian is unbeaten this year, with a 24-0 record, having picked up the Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships, as well as Masters 1000 Series events in Indian Wells and Miami.
Now back home in Belgrade for the Serbia Open, the 23-year-old has spoken of the major changes he has made to his diet over the past eight months to improve his fitness levels.
Djokovic – who won his inaugural home event in 2009 – believes the advice given to him by nutritionist Igor Cetojevic has been a major factor in his recent run of successes.
He said that Cetojevic has “done a great job” by “changing” his diet following test results that showed Djokovic is “allergic to some food ingredients” such as gluten”.
Having ditched “pizza, pasta and bread”, Djokovic feels “great physically”, has “lost some weight” and made his “movement” far “sharper”.
The top seed at the Serbia Open, who will face Romanian Adrian Ungur or qualifier Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, of Spain, in tomorrow’s second round, believes many “people have been guessing” as to “what the secret formula” is behind his “good form”.
However, the Serbian sensation says “there is no secret”, emphasizing that “all the pieces have fallen into place” following “years of hard work” that means he can now reap “the rewards”.
Djokovic stressed that success is not just down to his efforts, though, but a whole team of backroom staff that he has “unreserved faith in”, with the Serbian adding that he trusts his “great team of people” and “their instructions completely”.
As the buildup to the French Open next month continues, Djokovic also pointed out that he no longer fears facing the “world’s best players”, essentially referring to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
He believes he is now “capable of holding” his own against the Spaniard and Swiss “under any circumstances”, when previously he “was unable” to remain “psychologically balanced and confident” when confronting either of that top duo during “the latter stages of Grand Slam” tournaments.
His change in attitude is not just down to hard work and dietary modifications, however, with the Serb stating he has “matured as a player and person” that has resulted in him feeling “more confident” as well as “more consistent” on court.
The two-time Australian Open champion is a hero in Belgrade following his steering of Serbia to a first Davis Cup final success against France last December – and Djokovic is thrilled to be back to play the Serbia Open, which “will always have a special place” in his heart as he and his countrymen get the chance to “play in front of our own people”.
Having picked up the first Serbia Open title two years ago, local hero Djokovic expects the home fans “to turn up” to cheer on “all Serbian players” at a tournament that is becoming “stronger and more competitive” with each passing year.
Djokovic’s return to court should be a cause for celebration among all tennis fans, however, as the world No.2 continues his challenge to the established order. Nice one, Novak.