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Dr. Djokovic? World No. 1 On Alternate Career Path

A master of dissection on court, Novak Djokovic may well have become a healer if not for tennis.

In the aftermath of Djokovic's 6-2, 6-1 sweep of Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Rome on Thursday, the top seed was asked what he would have studied had he not left school for the pro circuit.

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The world No. 1 said he likely would have pursued a career in health care if he hadn't committed to achieving his dream of becoming the world's top tennis player. 

"Health. Anything that is related to health," Djokovic said. "I mean, such a wide area of life obviously. That attracts me a lot. The nutrition, the wellness, well-being, mental well-being, emotional well-being. I don't know particularly what at the moment, but anything that is really related to health and well-being of a person."

Skeptics might point to the criticism Djokovic absorbed for the minimal safety protocol at his Adria Tour last summer that saw several players, including Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki, test positive for Coronavirus.

However, Djokovic has pursued a career-long interest in education and health. The Novak Djokovic Foundation, founded by Djokovic and wife Jelena, has long funded early education programs for thousands of children.

The 33-year-old Djokovic, who famously adopted a gluten-free diet he credits with for strengthening his fitness, wrote a book on the topic: Serve to Win. The book details how Djokovic's gluten-free diet dramatically improved his health helping him reach peak performance. 

"I had the skills, the talent, the drive," Djokovic said. "I had access to the finest doctors in the world. What was really holding me back was something I'd never suspected. I was training and practicing right. But I was eating all wrong." 


A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole)

Given his deep interest in nutrition, fitness and the mind-body connection, the 18-time Grand Slam champion believes he would have studied health care.  

"I probably would stick with health because that's something that I as a professional athlete had to really learn well," Djokovic said. "I'm obviously still learning a lot about myself. I like to implement things in my own life, everyday life, test it on my own body, whether it's food, supplements, recovery techniques, stuff like this that would help my performance, recovery, well-being in general. I think it would probably be in that area."

Photo credit: Western & Southern Open Facebook