Keen to share souvlaki with Djokovic? Sushi with Federer? What about dumplings with Li Na? Like everyone else, tennis players have their favourite spots and are not shy about visiting them over and over again. Here’s an insider’s guide to finding your favourite star.
Former Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic visits the casual Greek spot every year and counts it as part of his good luck ritual.
“Since the first year he came to Australia he’s been coming to the restaurant,” says owner Jim Pothitos. “He’s not superstitious but he likes to stick to a routine so every night before a quarter final they come and have a good night before a big match the next day.”
According to Mr Pothitos, Djokovic brings his whole team and his dish of choice is the chicken skewer souvlaki. Djokovic has already visited the restaurant a couple of times during this tournament and appears to have started a trend — Pothitos also reports that Serena Williams stopped by, as did Indian doubles player Leander Paes, who brought along his parents.
“We treat them [the players] as part of our family,” says Pothitos. “We welcome them to Australia.”
583 Chapel St South Yarra (03) 9827 3734
Venus and Serena Williams have stayed at the Olsen, part of the Art Series hotels group, every year during the Open since 2011. In a 2011 interview, Venus told reporters: “It’s one of the art hotels and I enjoy art. I design my dresses on the court and I have an interior design company … so I’ve been very interested in staying here.” While there, the sisters cook in their in-room kitchen, drink pressed juices and explore Chapel Street.
Serena also can be regularly spotted exploring shops and restaurants on Chapel Street, including The Cupcake Bakery, where she chose the carrot cupcake.
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) January 12, 2014
637-641 Chapel St, South Yarra, (03) 9040 1222
On a warm day, you may find world number two Novak Djokovic on the lake in a kayak. The area also has a great scenic running track, ideal for visiting players who want to take in the sights while keeping fit.
Li Na and Maria Sharapova both stay at Crown, favouring the rooftop tennis courts, spa and gymnasium. Rafael Nadal is also regularly spotted around the property. Chinese world number four Li Na is an ambassador for the company and returns to stay there every year, regularly enjoying their many Asian restaurants, especially Man Tong.
8 Whiteman St, Southbank, (03) 9292 8888
Tennis players are creatures of habit and prefer to eat at places they know and trust. As Nobu is an international chain dishing up healthy Japanese food, it’s the perfect spot for an after-match meal for players like Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych. If you’re there, make sure you order the Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki favourite: yellowtail sashimi.
8 Whiteman St, Southbank (03) 9292 7879
Li Na told The New Daily that she “really, really likes” the Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. Other stars like Bernard Tomic, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic have also been spotted there.
Crown Entertainment Complex/8 Whiteman St, Southbank (03) 9292 6886
Maria Sharapova visited the famed market, known for its fresh fruit and vegetables, ahead of the Australian Open and struggled with the crowds.
Is there a fast track lane on a Wednesday night at the Victoria Market? Is everyone really that hungry? #foodmadness
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) January 8, 2014
Corner of Victoria St and Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, (03) 9320 5822
Chinese player Li Na told The New Daily that Melbourne has “the best Chinese food” outside of China. She and the rest of the Chinese team like to head to Little Bourke Street’s bustling strip of dumpling spots for group dinners.
Little Bourke Street, Melbourne