Published on November 24th, 2015 | by Sharif Said
Djokovic – The ‘Big One’
Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth ATP World Tour Finals title on Sunday to seal was has been another excellent season for the Serb.
The 2015 Australian, Wimbledon and US Open champion is currently dominating the game to the extent that the term ‘big four’ is beginning to lose its relevance.
For several years, Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have been the men to beat at the top of men’s tennis.
“If you want to become the best, you have to make sacrifices and that’s what he’s done”
Between 2008 and 2012, that quartet of players won 19 out of 20 grand slam titles. In 2012, the big four all had one grand slam victory each.
However, in the last 12 majors, Djokovic has won five to Murray’s one and Nadal’s three, while Federer hasn’t triumphed on one of the biggest stages since Wimbledon 2012.
But with Federer now 34, Nadal suffering the wear and tear of many injuries, and Murray’s best seemingly not being quite good enough, is Djokovic now the ‘big one’?
No wonder Djokovic said after beating Federer to win once again at the O2 Arena last weekend: “This has been a great year for me.”
The 28-year-old has has won 78 games this year and lost just five, taking his 2015 winning percentage up to a stupendous 94%.
His calendar year wins percentage has only ever been bettered by three other players, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Federer.
But what explains how he has come to dominate men’s tennis in recent seasons?
I spoke to Shyenne Washington, who is a tennis coach at the David Lloyd gym in Finchley, who said Djokovic’s diet has had a lot to do with his success.
“He has been phenomenal this year, and has improved ever since he got on a gluten-free diet in 2011. He is been really disciplined and strict in what he eats, and he only eats at specific times.
“If you want to become the best, you have to make sacrifices and that’s what he’s done.”
Until his diet change in 2011, Djokovic had health problems on the court. His body couldn’t handle the intensity he was playing at and he often couldn’t last a whole match without needing a break to vomit or suffer from breathing problems.
It was a life-changing moment for the Serb when he met nutritionist Dr Igor Cetojevic in Croatia who discovered that he was sensitive to gluten, which led to him going ‘gluten free’.
“There’s another reason why Djokovic is also taking care of business on the court – he’s a very happy man off it”
It clearly worked wonders as he went from burning out on court when the going got tough to world number one within 12 months.
The diet seems to have given him a burst of energy and improved his endurance. He’s certainly deemed the fittest man in the game at the moment.
Washington adds: “His work ethic is second to none too. His training regime is a lot more intense and focused than the other players, and he simply puts more hours in.”
Does he now think we’re now in the era of the ‘big one’? “Definitely.”
There’s another reason why Djokovic is also taking care of business on the court – he’s a very happy man off it.
He has said that getting married to long-time girlfriend Jelena and having their first child Stefan (1) also helped him to hit top form.
“Ever since I got married and became a father, I haven’t lost many matches and I have won many tournaments,”
“I suggest that to every player – get married, have kids.”
With possibly another four or five years at his peak, and no younger players consistently challenging for the top honours, it’s clear that new era of the ‘big one’ is only just beginning.