Mastering Health and Performance: A Practical Summary of ‘Serve to Win’ By Novak Djokovic

“All you have to do is try. And to me, the worst kind of defeat is not failure per se. It’s the decision not to try.”

Novak Djokovic

Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence is a book written by professional tennis player Novak Djokovic, with a foreword by William Davis M.D.

In this book, Djokovic reveals the gluten-free diet and fitness plan that transformed his health and pushed him to the pinnacle of his sport. He recounts how he survived the bombing of Belgrade, Serbia, rising from a war-torn childhood to the top tier of his sport. Djokovic loved and craved bread and pasta, especially the pizza at his family’s restaurant, but his body simply couldn’t process wheat. Eliminating gluten—the protein found in wheat—made him feel instantly better, lighter, clearer, and quicker.

As he continued to research and refine his diet, his health issues disappeared, extra pounds dropped away, and his improved physical health and mental focus allowed him to achieve his two childhood dreams: to win Wimbledon, and to become the #1 ranked tennis player in the world.

Now, Djokovic has created a blueprint for remaking your body and your life in just fourteen days. With weekly menus, mindful eating tips for optimal digestion, and delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes, you’ll be well on your way to shedding extra weight and finding your way to a better you. Djokovic also offers tips for eliminating stress and simple exercises to get you revved up and moving, the very same ones he does before each match. The book was first published on August 20, 2013. It is available in Kindle, Hardcover, and Paperback editions.

The aim of this blog post is to offer a comprehensive and practical summary of Novak Djokovic’s “Serve to Win”. It will distill the book’s main ideas and advice into a format that’s easy to understand and apply in daily life. The goal is to help readers gain a clear understanding of Djokovic’s dietary and fitness strategies without having to read the entire book.

1-Minute Summary

Novak Djokovic’s book “Serve to Win,” promotes a gluten-free diet and exercise for peak performance.

Key takeaways:

Diet impacts health and mental well-being: Eating balanced with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains provides energy and improves mood.
Listen to your body: Notice how food affects you and adjust your diet accordingly.
Exercise and mindfulness: Both are crucial for physical and mental health. Exercise boosts energy and mood, while mindfulness reduces stress and improves focus.

Steps to apply these principles:

Go gluten-free (eliminate wheat, barley, rye).
Exercise regularly (even simple activities like walking help).
Practice mindfulness (meditation, deep breathing, etc.).

In this blog post, we will discuss:

  • About the Author
  • The Core Idea
  • Key Takeaways
  • Practical Application
  • Success Stories
  • Final Remark

If you want to save Serve to Win summary for later, download the free PDF and read it whenever you want.

About the Author

Novak Djokovic, hailing from Serbia, is one of the most successful tennis players in history. However, his journey to the top was not without challenges. In his early career, Djokovic struggled with frequent health issues, including difficulty breathing and a lack of stamina. These issues often affected his performance and hindered his progress in the sport. After years of searching for answers, Djokovic discovered that he had a gluten intolerance. This revelation led him to make a significant change in his diet – he decided to go gluten-free. The impact was immediate and profound. His health issues subsided, his energy levels increased, and his performance on the court improved dramatically. This dietary change, along with his relentless determination and skill, propelled Djokovic to the top of the tennis world, where he continues to dominate.

The Core Idea

The central premise of “Serve to Win” is the transformative power of a gluten-free diet coupled with a disciplined fitness regimen. Djokovic discovered that eliminating gluten – a protein found in wheat – from his diet had a profound impact on his health. He felt lighter, his thinking became clearer, and his energy levels soared. In addition to the diet, Djokovic emphasizes the importance of a consistent fitness plan. Regular exercise, according to him, not only strengthens the body but also enhances mental toughness – a critical aspect of high-level sports. Together, the gluten-free diet and the fitness plan create a holistic approach to health and performance, as demonstrated by Djokovic’s own remarkable career.

Novak Djokovic’s switch to a gluten-free diet marked a turning point in his career. Prior to the dietary change, he often felt sluggish and drained. However, once he eliminated gluten from his diet, he experienced a significant improvement in his health. He felt lighter, more energetic, and more focused. His stamina increased, allowing him to endure long and grueling matches without fatigue. His recovery time after matches improved as well. This newfound energy and vitality translated into his performance on the court. He was able to move faster, react quicker, and maintain a high level of play throughout his matches. The improvement in his health and performance played a crucial role in his rise to the top of the tennis world.

Key Takeaways

Your Diet = Your Mental Health

The food you eat has a direct impact on your physical and mental health. A balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, can provide your body with the necessary nutrients for optimal function. It can boost your immune system, improve your energy levels, and enhance your physical performance. On the other hand, a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can lead to various health issues like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Moreover, your diet can also influence your mental health. Certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, are essential for brain health. They can improve brain function, enhance memory, and even help prevent mental disorders. Conversely, a poor diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can affect mood, increase stress levels, and contribute to conditions like depression and anxiety.

Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial not only for your physical well-being but also for your mental and emotional health.

Listen To Your Body

One of the most important aspects of maintaining good health is learning to listen to your body. Our bodies have a way of communicating with us. They give us signals when something is not right. For instance, if a certain type of food consistently makes you feel sluggish or causes digestive issues, it’s your body’s way of telling you that it’s not responding well to that food. Similarly, if a particular exercise routine leaves you feeling energized and rejuvenated, it’s a sign that your body benefits from that activity.

Understanding these signals and responding to them appropriately is crucial. It allows you to tailor your diet and lifestyle according to your body’s unique needs. Remember, what works well for one person may not necessarily work for another. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what works for you personally. This understanding can guide you towards healthier choices and contribute to your overall well-being.

Exercise and Mindfulness

Exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining physical health. Regular physical activity strengthens the heart and muscles, improves circulation, boosts energy levels, and helps maintain a healthy weight. It also releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters, which can help reduce stress and improve mood.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is a powerful tool for mental well-being. It involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve focus, enhance emotional regulation, and increase self-awareness. It can also help us develop a more compassionate and accepting relationship with ourselves.

Together, exercise and mindfulness form a holistic approach to well-being, promoting both physical and mental health. By incorporating both into our daily routines, we can improve our overall quality of life.

Practical Application

If you want to apply these principles in your life, here are some steps you can take. First, transition to a gluten-free diet. This involves eliminating foods that contain wheat, barley, and rye from your diet. Instead, focus on eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa. Remember, it’s important to read food labels as gluten can be hidden in unexpected places.

Next, incorporate regular exercise into your routine. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hit the gym every day. Even simple activities like walking, cycling, or doing yoga at home can make a big difference. The key is to find an activity you enjoy and stick with it.

Finally, practice mindfulness. This involves focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. You can do this through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even just by taking a few moments each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

Success Stories

There are countless examples of athletes and individuals who have seen significant improvements in their performance and well-being by adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, and mindfulness practices. Two such examples are Cristiano Ronaldo and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s top footballers, is known for his strict diet and rigorous training routine. His diet is rich in lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables, providing him with the energy and nutrients he needs to perform at his best. His training routine, tailored to his sport, enhances his physical performance and contributes to his mental well-being.

Similarly, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a renowned actor and former professional wrestler, follows a disciplined diet and exercise regimen. His high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet fuels his intense workouts and helps him maintain his muscular physique. His regular exercise routine not only improves his physical strength but also helps him manage stress and maintain focus.

Both Ronaldo and Johnson also understand the importance of mental well-being in their professions. They incorporate mindfulness practices into their routines, helping them stay focused during high-pressure situations, manage stress, and maintain a positive mindset.

While Ronaldo and Johnson’s specific routines may not work for everyone, they serve as powerful examples of how a balanced diet, regular exercise, and mindfulness can contribute to overall well-being and performance. It’s important to remember that everyone is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. It’s crucial to listen to your body, understand your needs, and find a routine that works best for you.

Final Remark

In this blog post, we delved into the key principles outlined in Novak Djokovic’s book “Serve to Win”. We discussed Djokovic’s personal journey towards health and excellence, the transformative power of a gluten-free diet, the importance of regular exercise, and the role of mindfulness in overall well-being. We also provided practical tips on how you can incorporate these principles into your own life. This post is just a summary, and there’s a lot more valuable information in the book. So, if you’re interested in enhancing your physical and mental health, I highly recommend reading “Serve to Win” for a more comprehensive understanding.

Actionable Summary

Novak Djokovic’s “Serve to Win” offers a blueprint for achieving peak physical and mental performance. Here’s how you can take action and experience the benefits yourself:

Step 1: Listen to Your Body (Food Detective)

Track your diet: For a week, record everything you eat and how you feel after each meal. Identify any foods that consistently cause sluggishness, bloating, or other issues.

Consider gluten-free: If you suspect gluten sensitivity, try a gluten-free diet for a few weeks and see if you notice improvements. There are plenty of delicious gluten-free options available.

Focus on whole foods: Prioritize fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains (if gluten-free). These foods provide essential nutrients for optimal health.

Step 2: Fuel Your Body (The Power of Nutrition)

Plan your meals: Create a weekly meal plan to ensure you’re getting a balanced intake of nutrients. This reduces unhealthy impulse decisions.

Read food labels: Be aware of hidden gluten and other ingredients that might not agree with you.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body functioning at its best.

Step 3: Move Your Body (Exercise for Everyone)

Find activities you enjoy: Explore options like walking, running, swimming, dancing, or team sports. Choose something you’ll stick with long-term.

Start small and gradually increase intensity: Don’t overwhelm yourself. Begin with manageable workouts and gradually increase duration or difficulty.

Aim for consistency: Regular exercise is key. Even 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week can make a big difference.

Step 4: Train Your Mind (The Mindfulness Advantage)

Start a meditation practice: Even a few minutes of daily meditation can reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance self-awareness. There are many guided meditation apps available.

Practice mindful breathing: Take a few minutes throughout the day to focus on your breath. This simple exercise can help you relax and stay present in the moment.

Develop a positive mindset: Focus on gratitude and self-compassion. Challenge negative thoughts and cultivate a belief in your ability to achieve your goals.


Everyone is unique: What works for Djokovic or other athletes may not be your perfect fit. Experiment and find what works best for your body and preferences.

It’s a journey: Building a healthy lifestyle takes time and commitment. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Celebrate your progress and keep moving forward.

Listen to your body: Pay attention to how you feel and adjust your approach as needed. This is your journey to a healthier, happier you!

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