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What it takes to get to No 1

Justin Setterfield/Getty

When I had lunch with Novak Djokovic at his organic restaurant in Monaco, just after he won the 2016 French Open, says Matthew Syed in The Times, “four bottles of liquid were placed in front of me: red, yellow, green and orange”. The tennis ace told me he liked the green juices best, because they were “very rich in minerals, vitamins and enzymes. They improve your energy and digestion and have a good impact on your organs. They are also rich in iron.” As well as an obsessive interest in what he eats, Djokovic is a master of self-discipline. After defeating Nadal in a gruelling six-hour battle to win the 2012 Australian Open, the Serb craved chocolate, “which he hadn’t tasted in two years”. After dispatching his coach to buy a bar, Djokovic “broke off a tiny corner and let it melt on his tongue”, then tossed the rest. “That is what it has taken to get to No 1,” he said.

Chatting with Djokovic is a “rollercoaster”. One moment he’s talking about the scientific achievements of Nikola Tesla, the next about how “water molecules can be influenced by human feelings”. But why not? “If he wants to believe that stretching before breakfast channels the karma of the universe, that’s his business.” And as he points out, his idiosyncratic beliefs have worked out rather well, helping him morph from a “fragile teenager to a sporting colossus”.