Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is two wins away from a record 23rd men's Grand Slam singles title AFP / Emmanuel DUNAND

Marvel fans let their imaginations run loose after tennis superstar Novak Djokovic was spotted with a coin-shaped disc taped to his chest during the ongoing 2023 French Open at Roland Garros. Even more surprisingly, the Serbian star said that he was trying to impersonate the famous comic and movie character "Iron Man" when he was asked about the disc during a press conference.

Djokovic has been causing a number of minor controversies since the start of this year's French Open. His first round victory celebration was criticised after he wrote "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia" on the camera lens. It was labelled a "militant, political" statement by the French Sports minister, and he was reprimanded by tournament director Amelie Mauresmo.

Then in the second round, he defeated Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in straight sets, 7-6 6-0 6-3. The match itself was pretty much uneventful except for a slight struggle by the Serb to get over the line in the first set. He created a buzz when he powered through the remaining two sets after showing off the mysterious disc on his chest.

Djokovic needed an hour and 27 minutes to win the first set, and during the break, he decided to change his shirt while sitting in his chair at Court Philippe Chatrier. As he sat topless in full view of the audience and TV cameras, the disc could be seen taped right in the middle of his chest. It is located pretty much in the same spot where Tony Stark, played by actor Robert Downey Jr. in the Marvel films, has his Arc Reactor embedded in his chest.

Match commentator and former world number one Jim Courier was surprised to see that something is taped on the defending champion's chest. On live TV, he said: "Have you ever seen Robert Downey Jr. in the same room as Djokovic? Maybe Novak is Iron Man?"

A similar disc made another appearance later in the match, with one of the ball girls handing one to the Serb. He was seen replacing the one that he already had taped on his chest with the new one that was handed to him.

According to some observers, the device could be a "Q Magnet" which is described as a "therapeutic pain-relief tool that claims to help with chronic pain or fatigue."

The 22-time Grand Slam winner, who is gunning for a record 23rd major, did not provide a straightforward answer when asked bout the disc during his post-match press conference. Instead, he also made a reference to the famous superhero.

"When I was a kid I liked Iron Man a lot, so I try to impersonate Iron Man," he said. However, he confirmed that the disc is a tool that uses nanotechnology to help improve his performance. "You know, my team delivers an incredibly efficient nanotechnology to help me deliver my best on the court, so that's the biggest secret of my career. If it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't be sitting here."

Upon closer inspection of high resolution photos taken during the match, the brand name "Taopatch" could be read from the disc on the Serb's chest.

According to the company's website, "Taopatch is a patented wearable nanotechnology device that combines acupuncture with light therapy. It contains layers of nanocrystals, which capture your body heat and convert it into impulses of very weak light, which is then emitted onto the specific points on your body. This light stimulates your Central Nervous System and enhances its communication with the rest of your body."

Djokovic has since progressed to the semi-finals after beating Karen Khachanov in the quarters on Tuesday. He will next face world number one Carlos Alcaraz in the most anticipated clash of the tournament.