Tennis

Novak Djokovic, an unconventional champ

Serbia's Novak Djokovic gestures as he holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Austria's Dominic Thiem in the final of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic gestures as he holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Austria's Dominic Thiem in the final of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

While Switzerland’s Federer and Nadal of Spain come across as straightforward characters, Djokovic is the most complicated of tennis’ ‘Big Three’.

A strict vegetarian diet, spiritual guru and family hugging sessions aren’t methods employed by most athletes, but they have helped Novak Djokovic turn himself into one of the best players ever — and now Australian Open champion for an eighth time.

Turning to the unusual

The Serb has distinguished himself with his willingness to turn to the unusual, from hyperbaric chambers to meditation and Spanish guru Pepe Imaz, a former journeyman player whose “love and peace” philosophy drives his teachings.

While Switzerland’s Federer and Nadal of Spain come across as straightforward characters, Djokovic is the most complicated of tennis’ ‘Big Three’.

His daily routine, as related to The New York Times last year, involves getting up before dawn with his family, watching the sun rise and then doing hugging and singing sessions, and yoga.

The father-of-two has dabbled in various diets including gluten- and dairy-free, and is now a proud “plant-based athlete” — the subject of a Netflix documentary, ‘The Game Changers’, for which he is executive producer.

Rather than celebrating his Australian Open wins by partying, Djokovic climbs a fig tree in the city’s Botanical Gardens.

“I have a friend there, a Brazilian fig tree, that I like to climb and I like to connect with, so that’s probably my favourite thing to do,” he says.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 12:48:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/novak-djokovic-an-unconventional-champ/article30728527.ece

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