- Associated Press - Sunday, September 4, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Janko Tipsarevic is still eating gluten. Some other ingredients _ on the plate and on the court _ have been cut out of his life as he’s ascended to his highest ranking.

The 20th-seeded Serb matched his best Grand Slam result by reaching the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Saturday. Tipsarevic was leading 6-4, 5-0 when ninth-seeded Tomas Berdych retired.

At 27, Tipsarevic is three years older than top-ranked Novak Djokovic, but he considers his countryman a bit of a role model. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that both are having career years.

“I am extremely grateful for having Novak as a part of my life, because I have a chance to look from a front row seat what the world’s best tennis player is doing,” Tipsarevic said.

Tipsarevic took a food intolerance test and found he didn’t have to go gluten-free like Djokovic. But he learned he was sensitive to other ingredients and has dropped milk, eggs and juices from his diet.

There were also some other, bigger changes.

“Maybe just at the time I didn’t want to sacrifice my free time in my life,” Tipsarevic said. “I’m doing things differently this year. I’m completely dedicated to tennis, which was not the situation a couple years back. I was choosing to do some other things before going to bed on time or doing stretching after every practice or hitting the gym every time that I need to.”

Before, he said, “I was always playing the sport just to enjoy the time being on tour, winning points, winning money and all that.” This year, he set a goal to be in the top 20 at end of the season.

“I guess I was kind of sick being all the time around 30 or 40,” Tipsarevic said. “I am not getting any younger. I’m not old but I’m not young. I see guys from my generation like (Robin) Soderling or (Gilles) Simon had their, if I can say, dreams come true, winning tournaments, being top 10. I feel that I have the quality. It’s just the thing is that my head was not there in the previous years.”

Djokovic said he’s noticed a transformation in Tipsarevic.

“I noticed the difference in his mental approach,” Djokovic said. “He always had the game. I just think now he believes he can win against top guys, that he can go far in tournaments, in the Grand Slams.”

Tipsarevic next faces unseeded Juan Carlos Ferrero, who also advanced when his opponent retired while trailing. Tipsarevic upset Andy Roddick in the second round at last year’s U.S. Open, but was knocked out by Gael Monfils in his next match.

He’s twice lost in the fourth round at major tournaments, both at Wimbledon.

“I’m not a fan of giving big statements. I don’t like to say, ‘This is my time to shine,’ or whatever,” Tipsarevic said. “I know it’s overrated and it’s a cliche to say, because you guys heard it so many times before, but I really, really want to focus just on the next match, because I had chances before twice playing fourth round in Wimbledon against really beatable opponents, and I just screwed it up at the end because I was thinking too big, that I have a chance to play semis or something.”

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