Tag Archives: tennis

Attending to Medical Condition May Be Novack Djokovic’s Recipe For Success

Djokovic becomes the new Wimbledon Mens Champion - July 3rd 2011


So Djokovic has captured the 2011 Wimbledon tennis title for men, against most peoples’ expectations. While its true that enhanced coaching techniques and training are essential ingredients for his success, the real reason could be attributed to his discovery that he was suffering from coeliac disease, a condition where he is allergic to certain foods.

I wrote in detail about this here.

Dieting Is Not Enough!

With regards to my previous posting, it looks like Novak Djokovic finally met his match, after 43 undefeated runs. Yesterday, he was defeated by the all-time tennis champion Roger Federer at the French Open.

Which goes to show..diet and fitness does not a champion maketh. To my mind, singularity of purpose and tactical changes (read aggression) also come into play…

The Secret of A Champion – His Diet

Many tennis afficionados (although I must admit I only have a passing interest in it) are surprised how Novak Djokovic, the Serbian, has been transformed overnight into a tennis machine, steamrolling past all he has played with (39 opponents so far). And that includes the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. As I write, his progress in the French Open is going the way many are predicting.

Djokovic - a tennis machine powered by a gluten-free diet

And yet..he is not a newcomer on the pro circuit, having made his debut in Wimbledon in 2006 but not making a significant impact until 2010. Apparently, his rejuvenation the last couple of years have been attributed to his diet.

The tennis ace attributes his amazing winning streak to overcoming a wheat allergy – a condition called coeliac disease. In this condition,  sufferers   eating foods containing gluten, which is found in many grains, will encounter chronic fatigue (tiredness) and chronic diarrhoea. The only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

The other side of Djokovic- as a model at the ATP dinner (courtesy of curly's photostream)

Last month, Djokovic subscribed his new-found success on the court to his nutritionist (yes, tennis pros can afford one) who has steered him away from wheat, barley and rye. Basically, this means no pizza, pasta or wholemeal bread, amongst others.

In speaking publicly about the condition, Djokovic has become the world’s most famous coeliac, and living proof that sufferers can not only lead relatively normal lives but can excel. Not only that, it has raised the level of awareness of this relatively unknown condition to a new high.

How does one diagnose coeliac disease? Basically, via blood tests and endoscopy. See here.

Of Tennis, Line-Judges and Injuries

Watching the ball..line-judge in action at the 2009 Wimbleton (courtesy The Times)

If there’s any prizes at any Wimbleton tennis tournament, or for that matter any tennis tournament, they should go to the line-judges.

Spare a thought for these guys. Apart from being chastised and having the crowd howling in your back for a wrong decision, one can sometimes even have a racket threateningly waved in your direction with expletives included, as one unfortunate line-judge discovered when she called against Serena Williams at the US Open in September.

That aside, when a 150mph ball is hurtling towards you, thats like a car heading at twice the speed-limit at you. Surprisingly, there has not been much reports of injuries..hence no neccessity for face-masks and the like.

Eye injury seems to head the list, although there was a report about a groin injury (OUCH!) with subsequent blockage of the  femoral artery nearby. The only reported death was during a Stefan Edberg vs John McEnroe game in 1983 when Edberg struck the groin of the line-umpire while sitting, causing him to topple over, leading to a head injury from which he subsequently died from..

Anger Management & Sports

The foot-fault was not the major issue, but it was how Serena Williams handled the situation at the 2009 US Open tennis semi-finals that mattered. In any case, watch for yourself :


Pulsating Veins & Angst - Roy Keane confronts the referee yet again

The outburst is nothing new in competitive tennis (old-timers will remember John McEnroe in the early 80s) or for that matter in most other high-pressure sports, especially the English Premier League football competition. Largely due to intense rivalry and the necessity to perform consistently at one’s best, participating is always like being in a pressure-cooker, just waiting to explode.

Controlled aggression, like fist-clenching, shouting (to oneself!) and short outbursts of anger, are commonplace, indeed  beneficial, because it makes the sportsman hyper-sharp mentally and may raise their performance level. However, when it goes out of control, then it becomes destructive. Football and tennis coaches spend a great deal of training time in controlling emotion and anger management, as these are now regarded as part and parcel of being professional.

What is anger management? When the response to anger becomes excessively inappropriate, manifested as violence,recklessness and abusiveness – it becomes a harmful emotion. Anger management are strategies to help control anger which has become self-destructive. One effective strategy (by Dr. Tony Fiore and Dr. Ari Novick) outlines the following steps:

  1. Recognise stress – as stress causes anger, reduce stress before it turns to anger.
  2. Develop empathy – see things from the other person’s perspective.
  3. Respond, don’t react – choose how you respond to anger.
  4. Converse with yourself – recognize and modify your inner self-talk.
  5. Be assertive – communicate effectively how you feel without being emotional.
  6. Be realistic about expectations – minimising the gap between what you expect & what you get.
  7. Forgive & accept – the decision to “let go”prevents resentment (self-damaging).
  8. Retreat & Think Things Over – taking “time-out” and removing from the stress situation.

Back to Serena Williams -why did she fail to control her anger?

For one thing, tennis is an individual sport. There are no team-mates to pull her away or to help absorb the pressure, unlike football. Then there’s the element of human error by the umpire adding on to unnecessary stress; not to mention the close proximity of the sell-out crowd egging her on. All in all, the fact remains that she did not acquit herself well as a professional and will probably need more training in this area!

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