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Is pickle juice an Australian Open miracle potion? Taste issues aside, results may vary
Though the sodium-filled tonic was credited with beefing up Paula Badosa’s forehand at the inaugural United Cup, it couldn’t carry Daniil Medvedev over the finish line last year in Melbourne.
Published Jan 02, 2023
WATCH: Badosa avenged a Billie Jean King Cup defeat to Dart from the end of 2022 at the United Cup this week.
To compete through Australia’s brutal summer heat, tennis players have taken to imbibing pickle juice in the hopes of warding off cramps and hastening recovery.
Paula Badosa was the latest to credit the briny brew after she rallied to defeat Harriet Dart, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-1 at the United Cup by all accounts emerged a better player after a few sips—at least if a now-viral graphic is meant to be believed.
“I think that as well helped me play a little bit more loose and more aggressive,” Badosa explained after the match, having sipped some during a medical timeout. “But, yeah, it was a little bit surprising for me, because I don't usually cramp.”
Frances Tiafoe was among the first to gain notoriety for riding the pickled wave to victory at the 2019 Australian Open; it turns out reaching a first Grand Slam quarterfinal was worth the subsequent upset stomach.
“I was downing pickle juice, having that like Kool-Aid, just trying to get that done,” the American said after defeating Grigor Dimitrov in four tight sets.
“I'm talking straight up: just downing it. It tasted terrible. I'm feeling terrible right now, man.”
What’s the secret to pickle-flavored success? The sodium, of course.
"Pickle juice contains sodium, potassium and vinegar and the obvious conclusion would be that it replaces sodium and salts lost when playing sport in a hot and humid environment like the Australian Open thus prevent cramping," Dr. Mayur Ranchordas, a senior lecturer in sport nutrition and exercise metabolism at Sheffield Hallam University, told the BBC.
Despite its increasing popularity across all sports, can a swig of pickle juice guarantee victory? Daniil Medvedev learned the hard way that results may vary when he aimed to defeat Rafael Nadal at the 2022 Australian Open final in January.
Medvedev led Nadal by two sets to start but his thirst for victory ultimately went unquenched—even as the Russian kept the pickle juice flowing.
“I’m worried what you just heard was, ‘Bring me a lot of pickle juice,’” Medvedev reportedly said during a changeover. “What I said was, ‘Bring me all the pickle juice you have.’”
Despite the defeat, expect Medvedev—and many others—to arrive in Melbourne stocked with a barrel or better if historic heat trends hold.