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A Tennis Player’s Guide to Jet Lag: Eurasia Edition

Photo: Christopher Levy.

Photo: Christopher Levy.

The global nature of the sport makes for a near-constant cycle of traveling, jets and the lag they cause. At the end of the season, when players hop continents quicker than you can say ‘Foot fault!’ while looking towards a deserved vacation, the match against jet lag seems unwinnable. During the week at the BGL BNP Paribas Open in Luxembourg, René Denfeld sat down with a few players and asked them how they deal with jet lag and changing timezones.

“Oh my goooooooooooodness! Tips to overcome jet lag?”

“I’m not really an expert, you know — I’m always struggling with it,” Jelena Jankovic joked, when asked to provide some insight on one of the biggest struggles for a tennis player.

“It’s good to come back from Asia,” Sara Errani said, prior to the start of the tournament. “The jet lag is okay, [but] the worst is to go over there — from the USA this year was tough.”

After already triumphing in Guangzhou to begin the Asian swing, the 30-year-old Serb captured the Hong Kong title over Angelique Kerber on Sunday and arrived on site in Luxembourg late Monday evening tired, but happy to return with two trophies in her bag.

“I’m not sure I’m the adequate person to ask that question [laughter],” Jankovic said. “You know, for example, if you come with an early flight and you arrive somewhere — I try to stay awake the whole day and kind of tire myself out so that I’m exhausted. Then I can sleep the whole night when it’s night, you know. That’s one thing.

“Another thing is…when you cannot sleep or something, it’s not your time where you are, you can take something — you know, melatonin or some kind of sleeping pill if you cannot fall asleep,” Jankovic said, eliciting more laughter.

Unlike Jankovic, Watson arrived a bit earlier in Luxembourg — despite also spending several weeks in Asia — without feeling any jet lag whatsoever.

“I was booking my flight back and I thought to myself, ‘This is my last long flight of the year — I cannot go economy or I’ll just die, so I thought, I’ll just spend my miles and upgrade myself.’ So I clicked business and thought, “Oh my god, I’m gonna be able to use this many miles and it’s still be well above 500 pounds,” the Brit sighed.

Upon revealing how much it actually was, Watson broke into a bright smile.

“It was £19.10!”

“So, I booked that flight and I was in business class and oh, it was so comfortable. I think that’s why I’ve been completely fine so far. I slept like six, seven hours on the plane on a 13-hour flight. I got into London and there wasn’t a flight into Luxembourg the next morning, so I went home, slept through the night and took a plane here the next day.”

Although Watson fell to No. 2 seed Ana Ivanovic in the first round of the singles event, she and partner Tatjana Maria reached the quarterfinals in doubles — giving No. 3 seeds Mona Barthel and Laura Siegemund all they could handle in a 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 match.

(Not for the sleepy or jet-lagged, mind you.)

Photo: Christopher Levy.

Photo: Christopher Levy.

Jankovic was all too happy to agree with Watson on the need for sleep.

“For us, sleep is very important,” she said. “If you don’t sleep, you feel awful the next day. You cannot focus, you cannot perform and it’s very important to get at least eight hours of sleep in — at least for me!”

“[Do] some activity during the day, tire yourself out, stay in the sunlight, drink lots of water, try to stay active. As soon you sit down and just stay in your room, you’re just going to fall asleep.”

Ever the entertainer, the Serb said slumped into her chair and pretended to crash out — for added effect?

“You just got to keep moving and keep doing whatever you want to do, then you can stay awake at the nighttime and try to sleep on your own.”

And if none of that works?

“Or, take a sleeping pill and knock yourself out!”

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About René Denfeld (202 Articles)
Weather is my business. Tennis is my playground. Born in the year of the Golden Slam. Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have.

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