Diets, skiing and subtlety

1 NOVAK’S parents, Srdan and Dijana, wanted their eldest son to become a skier but, despite playing on the slopes near their Belgrade pizza restaurant, he took to tennis from an early age and was spotted, aged eight.

2. Djokovic puts his incredible purple patch – he has won 50 of his last 51 matches, hoovering up two grand slams and six other titles en route – down to the galvanising effect of delivering Davis Cup success to his native Serbia in December.

3. His coach, former player Marian Vajda, insists the 24-year-old’s marked improvement is down to a more consistent serve, an ability to handle pressure and defeat better – and cutting out wheat. “We found he had a gluten allergy and since he’s cut that out, he is able to breathe better and take in more oxygen. His body is much healthier and this is the key,” says Vajda.

4. While he may lack the brute force of Rafael Nadal, Djokovic makes up for it in guile and spontaneity. Pundits say one of his best weapons is his subtlety: his shot selection is harder to read from body shape and he is able to flit between backhand and forehand with ease.

5. Novak may just be the start of a Djokovic tennis dynasty. The elder of his brothers, 19-year-old Marko, is a keen player and his practice partner at major tournaments, while 15-year-old Djordje is rated by some as even better than Novak was at that age.

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