Top tennis players are by definition the paragons of fitness and stamina. But have you ever wondered how they mix things up to build their strength? They don’t rely on picking up the racket and ball, hitting it out of the court.

As Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships kicks off with men’s matches, Gulf News tabloid! takes a look at the fitness habits of tennis players that go beyond their professional game ...

Kei Nishikori

When he is not playing tennis, you will see the Japanese tennis superstar enjoying a game of golf. According to an article in the Daily Mail, he trains a lot in the gym too.

“First of all, you have to be really strong. Especially if you are Asian, you have to do a lot of training in the gym... Physically, you have to be strong. Otherwise, like me, I got a lot of injuries in the past playing against those big guys with a lot of power. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the gym. Also mentally you have to be really strong, believe in yourself. It’s not easy for most Asian people, body wise,” said Nishikori in that interview.

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When it comes to food, he tries to have a “good balance”.

“I try to eat a good balance — a lot of carbs before the match, also vegetables, a lot of fruit. But I don’t really stress too much. Sometimes, I eat whatever I want. I try to eat simple and good,” Nishikori said in an interview with CNN.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer Image Credit: Instagram

His stamina is unrivalled on a tennis court and he has his rigorous fitness routine to thank for it. According to a report published on optimumtennis.net, Federer’s fitness routine involves a combination of core and footwork strengthening exercises. He alternates between rope skipping and core-strengthening workouts. He begins with a minute of skipping followed by a plank for 30 seconds and then mountain climbers which involve pulling each leg under and across your body while remaining in plank position.

He also does a string of lateral lunges, crunches and moves that engage his core. He is also good at medicinal ball shuffle along with cone drills which sees Federer do a zigzag motion around each cone while swinging his forehand and backhand strokes. He’s also a fan of hit and bounce where he has somebody throw balls to him and he has to try return them without a second bounce. He also enjoys High Intensity Interval training (HIIT). Before every match, Federer likes to eat a plate of pasta with light sauce.

Karen Khachanov

Karen Khachanov Image Credit: Instagram

When he isn’t slaying his opponents on the tennis court, he is exercising his mental muscles and memory. During his free time, he enjoys playing chess and reading classic Roman novels. He’s also studying long-distance for a degree in physical education at the University of Moscow.

“Education is always important and after I finished high school, I tried to be in the university as much as I can. Now, I study online. And I like to play chess. It’s one of my favourite hobbies. I also like to read classic Roman novels,” he was quoted as saying on www.atptour.com. According to a report published in telegraph.co.uk Kachanov likes to play chess with other tennis players during tournaments.

“I play with other players, sometimes with [fellow Russian Andrey] Rublev if we’re at tournaments together.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Away from the court, this Greek player’s hobbies include basketball, swimming in the sea and developing his game in Padel, a racket sport. He’s also very active away from the court on social media, with plenty of witty comments.

“I like posting as much as possible about my life and what’s going on around me,” states the tech-savvy Tsitsipas in an interview posted on nextgenatpfinals.com.

“I like sharing my thoughts on social media with loyal fans. I think it’s interesting the life of a sportsman, a tennis player.” He’s an ace at vlogging too. Since his sport involves a lot of travel, he loves to film his own video blogs that document his experiences in different cities during his games. Tsitsipas first got into vlogging during the US Open back in 2017.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic Image Credit: Instagram

He’s an advocate of the body being constantly on the move. Apart from doing dynamic stretches like jogging on the spot, he gravitates towards utilising a foam roller to loosen the connective tissues around his muscles and to decrease stiffness. His go-to moves include hamstring roll, glutes roll, calf roll and lower-back roll. He’s also a yoga enthusiast and is a fan of downward dog pose and cobra pose. He’s also known to do kettlebell swings as a part of his rigorous exercise routine filled with dynamic stretches. Djokovic also spent a majority of his down time in an egg-shaped pressure chamber. The pod, which doesn’t come cheap, simulates vigorous exercise which helps you to recover faster from intense workouts and adds oxygen-rich blood cells to the body while expelling lactic acid and other waste products naturally produced during workouts.

Djokovic is also the poster boy for a gluten-free diet and he takes his fitness so seriously that he even wrote a book, ‘Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence’. There’s weekly menus, eating tips for optimal digestion and recipes in there.

Don’t miss it!

Tickets to the DDFTC are available on dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com and from the Stadium Box Office which is open daily from 9am to 9pm.