Plant-based tennis star Novak Djokovic secured his fifth Men’s Singles Wimbledon victory after a grueling match against Roger Federer lasting nearly five hours.
The Serbian athlete won the men’s final with a score of 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12 in what many have described as one of the most entertaining matches in history. The Guardian reports that the match lasted a total of five sets where it was anybody’s game.
“Most of the match I was on the back foot, actually,” Djokovic, 32, told reporters after the matdh. “I was defending; [Federer] was dictating the play. I just tried to fight and find a way when it mattered the most.”
Novak Djokovic secured a place in the Wimbledon finals last year after a victory against old rival Rafael Nadal.
In what was described as a “sensationally high-quality match,” Djokovic edged past Nadal after an intense five-hour, 14-minute match that took place over a two-day period due to Wimbledon curfews. Both athletes impressed officials and the crowd by hitting 73 winners and making 42 unforced errors.
Djokovic was overcome with emotion following his victory: “It’s hard to pick the words [for how this feels]. I’m just going through things, having flashbacks of the last 15 months, everything I’ve been through to get here, to get to the finals and beat the best player in the world in one of the longest matches I’ve ever played.”
The 16-time Grand Slam champion went on to win against South African Kevin Anderson with a score of 6–2, 6–2, 7–6.
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Djokovic revealed in a recent interview that he stays away from labels, but has been enjoying vegan food for a number of years now: “I don’t like the labels, to be honest. I do eat plant-based (food), for quite a few years already. But because of the misinterpretations of labels and misuse of labels, I just don’t like that kind of name. I do eat plant-based. I think that’s one of the reasons why I recover well. I don’t have allergies that I used to have any more.”
He is also an executive producer in filmmaker James Cameron’s upcoming documentary, “The Game Changers,” which dives deep into elite athletes who forgo animal products. The filmmakers shared support for Djokovic in an Instagram post.
Many athletes, such as Wimbledon women’s competitors Venus and Serena Williams have credited a vegan diet for improved health, higher energy levels, and faster recovery time. Djokovic also revealed on Instagram last year that he has been relying on healthy, gluten-free and plant-based foods like green juice to power him through Wimbledon.
Although Djokovic is not vegan, he has a passion for healthy food. In 2016, he opened the restaurant “Eqvita” in Monte Carlo. The plant-based restaurant serves colorful Mediterranean fare that caters to locals and tourists.
In an interview with Forbes, Djokovic admitted that his diet includes the occasional fish, but credited plant-based eating for helping him be a top athlete: “Eating vegan makes me more aware of my body on the court… more alert. I removed toxins from my body, and with them went all the inflammation and other things that were messing with my energy levels. As an athlete, the most important thing is to keep your energy levels consistent—especially as a tennis player, where you’re alone on the court for a best of five match. When playing for 3, 4, 5 hours straight, you need the right fuel… and for me, the right fuel is plant-based.”