A strict vegetarian diet, spiritual guru and family hugging-sessions are among the unusual methods that have helped Novak Djokovic to take his place among the immortals of tennis.

The Serb will look to further his legacy by dethroning his long-time rival Rafael Nadal as the French Open champion, with the duo gearing up to lock horns for the 58th time in their careers to vie for a place in the final.

Also read: Nadal in his kingdom, Djoko charging ahead; chapter 58 loading...

Djokovic secured his ninth Australian Open victory in February, his 18th Grand Slam crown overall, and is snapping at the heels of Nadal and Roger Federe, who share the record of 20 major titles. The 34-year-old has nine Australian Open, five Wimbledon, three US Open and a solitary French Open title among his collection.

The trio are by far the most successful men in the history of the game and Djokovic's 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Medvedev at Melbourne Park was the latest emphatic endorsement of his prodigious talent and athletic ability.

Also read: Salisbury, Krawczyk win French Open mixed doubles crown

Djokovic's willingness to turn to the unusual -- from hyperbaric chambers to meditation with Spanish guru Pepe Imaz, a former journeyman player who extols a "love and peace" philosophy -- makes him stand out from his peers, who enjoy a more straightforward lifestyle.

He grew up in war-torn Belgrade and says he "came from nothing", having to practise in a disused swimming pool.

The boy from the ruins of conflict has now banked more than $145 million in prize money and lives in the millionaire's playground of Monte Carlo.

There were lingering doubts in the past about the size of his heart after a series of big-tournament retirements.

But he has surely laid those to rest after recovering from a severe abdominal injury to lift the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, the men’s singles trophy, for a ninth time.

He could barely walk at times as he beat Taylor Fritz in five painful sets in the third round, and then grimaced in pain through matches against Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev.

Also read: Pavlyuchenkova reaches first Grand Slam final at French Open on 52nd attempt

By the time he beat Aslan Karatsev in the semi-final he proclaimed his fitness was better than it had been all tournament.

True to his word, he was back to his imperious best in the final.

It banished memories of retiring from six previous Slams with injury, the most recent examples in the 2017 Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych and at the 2019 US Open when two sets down to Stan Wawrinka.

It also allows Djokovic firmly to consign a torrid 12 months since his 2020 success against Dominic Thiem to the rear-view mirror.

The coronavirus pandemic meant the world's tennis tours were suspended in March and three months later, Djokovic took it upon himself to launch his ill-fated Adria Tour.

The tournament in Belgrade had 4,000 spectators packed in while players shook hands and took selfies with fans, and ballkids handled sweaty towels -- all during a global shutdown.

Also read: Krejcikova ousts Sakkari in marathon semifinal to reach her maiden final

Djokovic and players including Thiem and Zverev were heavily criticised for partying shirtless at a heaving Belgrade night club.

The inevitable happened. Djokovic, his wife Jelena and players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all caught COVID.

Djokovic was then branded "tone deaf" for launching a breakaway Professional Tennis Players Association in August just as the sport was attempting to stagger back to its feet.

Days later, Djokovic was kicked out of the US Open after hitting a line judge in the throat unintentionally with a ball he slapped away in anger during the fourth round.

The distressed female official needed treatment on court and Djokovic apologised. "I'm extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended, so wrong," he said.

The COVID-delayed French Open rolled around and Djokovic reached the final.

But his shot at becoming the first man to win all four Grand Slams twice since Rod Laver in 1969 ended with a whimper when he suffered a 6-0 "bagel" to Rafael Nadal on his way to a straights-sets defeat.

He will now look to avenge that defeat, but by his own admittance, defeating Nadal in Paris is “a long shot”.