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Easy to forget, perhaps, given his utter dominance of late, but there was a time when Djokovic was not nearly as strong of body and mind as he is now.
He quit during his second-round match at the 2005 French Open. He stopped after losing the first two sets of his 2006 French Open quarterfinal against Nadal, citing a bad back. An infected blister on a toe was the reason given when Djokovic pulled out of his 2007 Wimbledon semifinal while trailing Nadal again. While losing a match against Federer at the Monte Carlo tournament in 2008, Djokovic stopped again, complaining of dizziness and a sore throat.
But a new dedication to fitness and a gluten-free diet have helped Djokovic. So has a self-belief that he says stems from leading Serbia to the Davis Cup title in December 2010.
"I feel different nowadays. I believe I’m at the peak of my career," Djokovic said. "I’m playing the best tennis of my life in last year and a half."
Now, for Grand Slam history, all he needs to do is win once more.
Won’t be easy, though.
"Going to be a difficult match for me," Nadal said. "Hopefully, for him, too."
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