During dinner with Jacob's Creek in Melbourne we found out what the world number 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic eats and the role food plays in his sporting and family life. Have you ever wondered what an elite athlete eats before a tournament? Or what is a Djokovic family Christmas is like? And does he ever eat fish and chips?
About their first date
The evening also unveiled a short film made for Jacobs Creek featuring Novak and his wife Jelena Ristic recreating their first date. Novak explains, "She came for a weekend. I think it was our second date and she wanted to order. I took the menu and said 'Please allow me'." In the film Jelena describes the moment as an "Awkward moment, he wants to order for me."
Novak says, "I saw a steak out of everything and I said there's no going wrong with a steak. I know she would like it because she grew up eating meat so I ordered. Then they brought tartare steak and it was the first time I actually found out what tartare steak is, I never knew. We don't eat raw meat in Serbia." He adds later, "Jelena always wanted to be backstage in the shadow. She never liked to be in front to expose herself too much throughout the years of our relationship and my success on the tour."
From their Made by Moments short film
What Novak's diet is like now
The elite athlete also discussed how he is also a pescatarian. "Now I don't eat meat but back then I was eating (meat). (Pre game meals) mostly consists of grains carbohydrates, vegetables. Eventually some light source of protein mostly seeds and nuts and sometimes fish, I occasionally eat fish," he explains.
Does he ever have something like fish and chips?
"Never" he says shaking his head. "If I do that I'm not doing good to myself and I don't want to harm my body so why would I do that? (Diet is) a huge part absolutely. The kind of mindset and philosophy that I have today wasn't the same as 10 years ago and as everyone else I evolved. Today I have this approach to life to learn and find out more and to be generally in tune with myself and my body. It's a holistic approach and I believe that everything I do off the court and the things that you eat and the things that you deal with relationships problems and emotions, it all reflects later on, on the high performance level. When you are on the court and the finals of the grand slam and you're playing fifth set, that surfaces and that comes out of you. You know deeply suppressed stuff. I deal with that and I mean obviously there are times when you go up and down but I believe it has worked for me."
His pre match rituals
He told host Andy Allen, "Exactly two hours before the match I have to tap my left knee three times and then my head. I'm kidding... I think it's a fine line between ritual and superstition. You know some players take showers only in one shower for three weeks because that's the shower, the water of life for that shower but again I believe in routines and I believe that every single person whether you are a professional athlete or not, you're body is like clock mechanism so you need to feel comfortable. When you're in your comfort zone you are able to feel confident, you are able to feel self belief and all these positive emotions that encourages you to do well. Once you get out of that comfort zone, everyone reacts differently...but that's why routines and rituals are there to keep you in tune and to keep your mind in the trajectory to get you in the final stage of getting you to your best and winning. I do have the routines that I expect from my team warming up at a certain hour before a match and eating certain things and tactically preparing..but nothing fixed.
His family Christmas is probably not too different from yours...
"Family values and life values...we were brought up to be close to family. I have two younger brothers because of my lifestyle and I started to travel early on my life. Around 14 or 15 I was already on the road because of tennis. On Christmas day we celebrate...because we don't see each other often we have a lot to chat about. The first hour is a lot of laughs, chatter and remembering things and then we start arguing and then it's a conflict. Family is there in good and bad. Family can always be honest with you."
"That's something in my life that I respect and value very much because you know I came from the country and circumstances that were different from most of the people in my generation and athletes. Those circumstances helped me to appreciate things in life more...Always your ego grows. People come to compliment you all the time and they praise you and give you all the beautiful words and explanations of your game or who you are. It's good when every once in a while someone tells you 'Hey I know who you are, I changed your diapers'".
So tell me Dear Reader, do you think you could follow the diet of an elite athlete? And how would you feel if someone ordered for you? Would you mind or would you object? And yay or nay to steak tartare?
NQN and Mr NQN attended the event as guests of Jacob's Creek