Novak Djokovic’s Gluten-Free Diet Crucial to Historic Chase of Open Era Winning Streak


Novak Djokovic has been unstoppable this season. Literally. The Serbian has won 43 straight matches, including 41 in 2011, something that hasn't been done since 1984.

So how has Djokovic taken the tennis world by storm? A gluten-free diet has been credited for the recent success, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The removal of the daily essentials for most — such as pizza, bread, pretzels and other foods containing high amounts of gluten — has improved Djokovic's on-court presence.

As recent as last year, Djokovic's on-court struggles were evident when closing out matches. His serve became sloppy and his movement lacked the energy to hit closing shots.

Now, the changing diet has left Djokovic feeling energized throughout entire matches. He is sharper physically and, more importantly, mentally. In an indiviual sport such as tennis, there is no one to blame but yourself when things go wrong.

"It's mostly mental energy you're talking about, not energy supplied to muscle tissues," said David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University.

"The other part of the story is, if you believe in a cause of your disorder, it becomes the cause," he told the WSJ. "We see this in many different studies. If you believe it, you change your behavior in the direction of being cured."

Now playing in the French Open, Djokovic has won his first four matches by scores of 3-0, 3-0, 3-1, 3-0.

With quarterfinal opponent Albert Montanes forced to retire due to injury, Djokovic now waits for his semifinal matchup, likely against Roger Federer. With two more wins, along with a French Open title, Djokovic's 2011 streak will improve to 43-0, which would break the single-year streak of 42-0 set by John McEnroe in 1984.

The overall streak of 46 wins, held by Guillermo Vilas, will have to be broken at the Queen's Club in London next week.

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