The greatest tennis players have one thing in common – they believe that they have mastered their body and mind to emerge as the superior animal in a contest, even when the scoreboard (and unforced errors) suggests otherwise. 

To warrant such a lion’s ego, these are some of the areas they focus on. Constantly. Just to avoid the shame (the world may clap, but it hurts like hell) of falling short, and having this illusion broken.

Rafael Nadal (Endurance)

 

#Repost @rafanadalacademy ・・・ Shooting a video with @RafaelNadal! Here’s a pic behind the scenes 😉

A photo posted by Rafa Nadal (@rafaelnadal) on

One of the things that makes Rafael Nadal so intimidating for his opponents, is his hummingbird-like quick-feet movement that can withstand hours of intense tennis.

“As for running, we would do sequences that developed my ability to change direction fast, to move sideways back and forth at speed. Everything we did simulated the special stresses tennis exacts on the body and conditioned me to adapt the best I could for the urgent, stop-start nature of the game,” says nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, in his autobiography Rafa: My Story.

Pete Sampras (Skill)

Pete Sampras

“Hands and wrists play a role in almost all of your shots, but they shouldn’t be doing work intended for your arms, feet and torso when it comes to hitting a firm, penetrating shot,” says Pete Sampras, in his autobiography A Champion’s Mind.

Long hours of boring, repetitive action is what all tennis players do in order to bring their bodies in control to hit that unreturnable serve, that aggressive forehand winner or that exquisite dropshot with ease during a competitive match situation.

Novak Djokovic (Flexibility)

 

i discovered anti gravity stretching. My hips and lower back love it 👌

A photo posted by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on

“It’s not about being a contortionist. It’s about whether my body can execute the movements I need to win. Dynamic stretching helps me get there because “dynamic,” or movement-based stretching is all about real-world actions,” Novak Djokovic (whose flexibility is unmatched) wrote in his book Serve To Win.

Along with dynamic stretching exercises (jumping jacks, high knees, squat thrusts, etc.) Djokovic also practices yoga asanas based on these four animals – rabbit, cat, dog and cobra.

Andy Murray (Recovery)

 

Holding this bad boy makes the ice bath that little bit more bearable 🏆😉

A photo posted by Andy Murray (@andymurray) on

Since tennis players push their muscles to perform inhumane things on a daily basis, extremely painful recovery methods like ice baths and deep tissue massages becomes routine.

“I do an ice bath after every single match throughout the year, whether it has lasted one hour or four hours, because I just feel like it helps me,” Andy Murray wrote in his BBC Wimbledon column.

Travelling around the world, also leaves the players jet lagged and many of them use melatonin supplements to make sure they get their requisite amount of shut-eye.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (Diet)

 

Have a healthy and #eqvitastic day 👏🏼😀 @eqvita

A photo posted by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on

“When I eat carbs with very little protein, I am telling my body, “I need energy. Proceed as necessary.” I feed my body gluten-free pasta, rice, oatmeal, and other gluten-free, carb-rich foods for daily energy. At night, I don’t need energy. I’m exhausted, and I want a good night’s sleep. So at dinner, I will tell my body, “I need you to repair the mess I made. Please take this protein and do what needs to be done.” This is when meat, chicken, and fish come heavily into play,” said Novak Djokovic in his book Serve to Win.

Not all tennis players are fans of gluten-free food though, and the current World No. 1 Andy Murray does not follow any specific diet as such. “Last night I had red meat, the night before chicken and the night before that, fish. I’m just trying to make sure I am not eating the same things a few days in a row,” Murray revealed in an interview.

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