Tennis / Djokovic a Glutton for Titles After Dropping the Gluten

A change of diet has played a major role in Novak Djokovic's unbeaten run this year, the world number two said yesterday after receiving a hero's welcome from fans in his home town of Belgrade.

The Serb, 24 next month, has won 24 straight matches to land the Australian Open and Dubai Championship titles, plus Masters Series events in Miami and Indian Wells. Djokovic credits a doctor who joined his team eight months ago for improving his fitness.

"His name is Igor Cetojevic, he is a nutritionist and he's done a great job in changing my diet after we established I am allergic to some food ingredients like gluten," Djokovic told reporters on the opening day of the Serbia Open.

"It means I can't eat stuff like pizza, pasta and bread. I have lost some weight but it's only helped me because my movement is much sharper now and I feel great physically.

"A lot of people have been guessing and speculating what the secret formula of my good form was but there is no secret, it's just that all the pieces have fallen into place after years of hard work and we are now reaping the rewards," added Djokovic.

The Serb paid tribute to his entire support staff, saying it was their hard work that had made him the player he is.

"I have a great team of people around me," he said. "I have unreserved faith in their instructions and trust them completely. I have also matured as a player and a person.

"I feel more confident and more consistent than ever because I am capable of holding my own against the world's best players under any circumstances.

"That wasn't the case earlier... whenever I needed to be consistent against [Roger] Federer and [Rafa] Nadal in the latter stages of grand slam events I was unable to stay psychologically balanced and confident."

Djokovic is back in Belgrade for the first time since he steered Serbia to their first Davis Cup title in December. He was greeted by hundreds of fans as he made a trip to nearby Mount Avala to pose with the massive Serbia Open trophy. He had photos taken and signed dozens of autographs as the crowd greeted one of Serbia's most popular public figures.