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Fitness and Food for Professional Tennis Players

by Jonas Eriksson

Two keys to success on tour are fitness and food for professional players. Novak Djokovic is known for pushing the envelope here, but other players are taking note.

Fitness and Food for Professional Tennis Players

What should you eat, and how should you train to play better tennis? It’s not that simple and everyone has their own approach. But it’s interesting how players tackle it. Novak has recently been seen utilizing a nano-technology Taopatch during the French Open. This is from the above-linked Forbes article:

Tao Technologies, an Italian company that sells the “TaoPatch” Djokovic used, claimed on Twitter the tiny disc is “activated by sunlight and body heat” and its “nanocrystals emit photons towards the body providing several health benefits.”

On its website, the company claims the TaoPatch “nourishes the body with wavelengths of therapeutic light, without side effects or the release of any chemicals.”

The company points to a study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Minerva Medica to back its claims, although the cited abstract only mentions preliminary findings.

In an interview with the BBC in 2022, Djokovic said as an “elite professional athlete,” he closely reviews anything he consumes—including food and supplements. This can seem excessive, but if you want to be the most successful player of all time, you need to make sacrifices and put a lot of dedication towards your body.

Sebastian Korda’s new body

Korda has started working with famous fitness coach Jez Green, who used to work with Andy Murray. Korda was out for three months with a wrist injury but is now back on the courts again.

“It was a long period of time out, but in some ways it was good and in some ways it was bad. I couldn’t play for a long time, but I had a really good opportunity to kind of work on my body with my new fitness trainer Jez Green and I am just very excited to be on grass,” Korda told ATPTour.com “I am still kind of getting the legs and the body used to playing tennis again, but I am slowly and surely getting there.”

“He has been with a bunch of super top-level players, so he was one of the best additions to my team recently. We have been building a body that will handle major and big-time tennis,” said Korda, who recently said he gained seven kgs during his time out. “It takes a big toll on the body, so having that belief in the body that you can last gives you a lot of confidence.

“We have worked up a whole new program that I’m getting used to. I never went to tournaments with a fitness trainer and now we are kind of just doing the warmups, doing the gym work together. He has a really good system around everything.”

The Diet Behind Echeverry’s Success

Fitness is one thing, but you need the right diet to ensure your body stays healthy and strong. Thomas Etcheverry has made significant steps in his career lately and he talked about the importance of food to the ATP Tour website.

Etcheverry avoids foods like ice cream, pizza, and pancakes as long as he is in the tournament. He sticks to a diet devised by nutritionist Luciano Spena. I found some answers from this interview illuminating.

How different is your diet on tour and when you’re not competing?
It’s pretty similar. Several Argentine players have the same nutritionist (Luciano Spena). He gives you several things to choose from. And you use that list as a guide. When you’re playing at ATP Tour level, it’s very easy because you have everything at the tournament. You go to the canteen and everything is there. It’s most difficult at [ATP] Challenger Tour tournaments, for example. There will definitely not be restaurants at the club with so much variety, and you have to go out. Then you have preprepared meals, and it’s more difficult to change them. But you do what you can.

What is your diet based on?
There’s always a protein and a little salad. We try to avoid dark meat, especially in competition. We eat pasta occasionally, around midday. It’s quite helpful. I also eat a lot of fruit and snack on protein bars mid-morning and in the afternoon. Supplements are another very important aspect.

Apart from desserts, which other foods do you avoid when you’re competing?
I can’t eat anything fried, nothing with fat. I have to avoid anything that could be too rich. Pizza for example.

What do you eat the night before a match?
Some meat with vegetables. That’s it. Something light. Maybe I can eat a dessert of just fruit, and I’m done.

What about on the day of the match?
It depends a lot on the time. If I play in the morning, I eat more than the previous night. If I’m playing in the afternoon, I eat less the night before, and I have a big breakfast in the morning. It depends on the plan. If I’m playing in the afternoon, for example, I’ll have something light at midday. Rice, maybe. It’s important to have a decent breakfast.

What do you consume during matches?
I eat bananas and nuts. That keeps me going. Regarding hydration, a lot of water, sports drinks, and salts.

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