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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Djokovic happy with Wimbledon prep

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Novak Djokovic has insisted he has no concerns that big rivals Andy Murray and Roger Federer will arrive at Wimbledon both rested and in title-winning form.

Djokovic again shunned the big Wimbledon warm-up tournaments, instead enjoying exhibition fare at The Boodles, claiming he needed “emotional, mental rest” after losing the French Open final to Stan Wawrinka.

Murray swept to his fourth Queen’s Club crown while seven-time Wimbledon winner Federer landed an eighth title at Halle in the SW19 build-up, before both capitalised on the extra week’s gap after the French Open to mix rest with training.

Djokovic will face Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in this year’s first action on Centre Court on Monday, adamant he is fully prepared to defend his 2014 Wimbledon title.

“In the last couple of years I haven’t been playing any lead-up tournament to Wimbledon and I still managed to play finals two years ago and to win the title last year,” said Djokovic.

“Even though my rivals like Murray, Federer, Nadal, have been winning grass court tournaments in the previous years as well leading up to Wimbledon, it’s not of my concern, honestly.

“I just want to get myself in the best possible shape.”

Djokovic remains bullish in his Wimbledon preparations, after shaking off his Roland Garros disappointment.

“I needed some time to just mentally recover, rest,” said Djokovic of his reaction to French Open defeat to Wawrinka.

“More than physical rest, I needed that emotional, mental rest to recharge my batteries and get myself in a proper state of mind so I can start all over again.

“I lost to a better player that day.

“You need to be able to reset very rapidly and get yourself a new motivation and inspire yourself to keep on going.

“This motivation and faith has to be even stronger than it was three weeks ago.”

Wawrinka will take on Portugal’s Joao Sousa in Centre Court’s final match on Monday, while 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt will start his last Wimbledon run against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.

Serena Williams will continue her quest for the calendar grand slam by starting her Wimbledon battle against Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan on Monday.

Defending champion Petra Kvitova has offered a realistic assessment of her bid for a third Wimbledon title by conceding Williams “has a really great chance” to complete the grand slam this season.

“I think that Serena has a really great chance to do it,” said 2014 Wimbledon champion Kvitova of Williams’ grand slam bid.

“I think she is a really great champion. We’ll see, but I think she’s really in a good way.”

Among the British stars in action are Johanna Konta, who will face former champion Maria Sharapova, with Heather Watson facing France’s Caroline Garcia.

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