LONDON (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic said rediscovering the winning feeling on Saturday when he scored his first tournament success since January had provided the perfect preparation for the Wimbledon Championships.
The Serbian broke his normal pre-Wimbledon practice regime to accept a wild card at the Aegon International event in Eastbourne, where he claimed his 68th tour title by beating Gael Monfils 6-3 6-4.
It was his first tournament win since January and has left the world number four confident of mounting a challenge at Wimbledon, where he has been drawn against Slovakia’s Martin Klizan in the first round.
“A lot of time spent on the practice courts, four quality matches. Just overall very happy with the way it went, and where my form is,” said Djokovic who did not drop a set in winning at Eastbourne.
“Obviously I was not playing too many of the events in the week prior to the beginning of the Grand Slam in my career, but I decided to do so this time because I felt like I needed more matches in general, but especially on the grass,” he told a news conference on Sunday.
“That is very unique surface that requires time for adaptation and adjustment, especially for the movement.”
The three-times Wimbledon champion has faced an unexpectedly rocky few months, losing his number one ranking to Andy Murray and failing to make a mark at either the Australian or French Open.
That poor form led him to bring in eight-times grand slam champion Andre Agassi as coach ahead of the French Open, where he lost to Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals, a defeat that meant he dropped out of the world’s top two for the first time since 2011.
Djokovic, who last won Wimbledon in 2015, has made another personnel change for the grasscourt event which starts on Monday, adding his friend and former player Mario Ancic to his coaching team alongside Agassi.
“He (Ancic) said he was anyway coming to London. He would be happy to spend some time with Andre and myself during Wimbledon,” said Djokovic, who added that he did not know how permanent the arrangement would be.
The 12-times Grand Slam winner has not won one of tennis’s glittering prizes since the 2016 French Open, leading to speculation that he has lost the desire to compete at the highest level.
Djokovic said it was more a case of gaining a new perspective. “I used to base all my happiness on winning a tennis match. I think many athletes today are doing that. So I try not to do that any more,” he said.
“Of course, I would love to win every single tennis match I play in but I don’t try to take that as a very essential, you know, moment in my life which determines my happiness.”
(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Clare Fallon)