World of Sport

The £50,000 pod that helped Djokovic conquer the world

World of Sport

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Novak
Djokovic has revealed the bizarre, space-age recovery pod that helped him
become the world's best tennis player.

The Serbian,
who has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this season, used an egg-shaped
machine designed by CVAC Systems that simulates being in high altitude conditions.

Makers
claim that the £50,000 chamber alters air pressure and oxygen levels, compressing the
muscles of the body at rhythmic intervals. The intention is to boost the body's
ability to absorb oxygen into the bloodstream, helping it become more efficient.

Djokovic
admitted before the US Open - for which he is hot favourite - that he has used
the machine, saying that "it really helps - not with muscle but more with
recovery after an exhausting set.

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"It's
like a spaceship," he added. "It's very interesting technology."

Djokovic apparently used a pod owner by tennis coach Gordon Uehling at his academy in New Jersey, and though the three-times Grand Slam champion later played down his initial endorsement for its miraculous powers (joking that it would be "great if that machine had wnigs so it can fly"), his sessions with the machine last summer did coincide with the beginning of his remarkable impovement.

Sadly for
the world number one the technology might soon be deemed a little too
interesting: a report in the Wall Street Journal quotes CVAC chief executive
Allen Ruskowski as claiming that the machine is twice as effective as blood
doping when it comes to boosting oxygen absorption in athletes.

For the
moment, however, WADA have not banned such equipment, though they did issue a
statement in 2006 saying that oxygen tents and the like violate the
"spirit of sport".

Former
tennis star Vince Spadea, a friend of Djokovic's, told the newspaper that he believed
the machine had helped the Serbian to achieve his remarkable improvement over
the last 18 months - and that it wasn't the only wacky gadget Djokovic had
tried.

"He
loves to explore the future of athletic edges-and he has the resources to do
it," said the 37-year-old.

"He
was looking to improve some of the challenges he was having -- breathing
capacity, allergies -- and definitely something clicked there."

 

 

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