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Timing key for Eastbourne wildcard Djokovic

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Novak Djokovic on Monday credited perfect timing on his decision to seek a wild card at Eastbourne for the struggling Serb’s first Wimbledon warm-up event in seven years.

“Because of the old schedule (two weeks between Paris and Wimbledon as opposed to the current three) we had a week less,” the three-time Wimbledon champion said on Monday.

“Usually the Queen’s and Halle tournaments were starting the week after Roland Garros, which was a bit challenging obviously coming from the slowest to the fastest surface in sport. It’s a big shift, only few days.

“That’s one of the reasons why I haven’t participated over the years in any lead-up events to Wimbledon.

“This year I knew I wanted to play one, but I thought Queen’s and Halle would be too early for me. I wanted to get some rest and get time to properly prepare.

“I wanted to play some matches coming into Wimbledon, because I haven’t had too many matches this year all in all.”

The former number one added that due to his exceptional success in previous seasons, he never felt the need to participate in a tournament prior to the grass-court major, which begins next Monday.

“I was fortunate to have lots of matches and lots of success in the first part of the year over the years, especially on the clay courts and always reaching the final stages of Roland Garros,” Djokovic said after several days of practise on the grass of seaside Devonshire Park.

The 30-year-old saw his French Open title defence come to a surprise halt with a straight sets quarter-final loss to the up-and-coming Dominic, his quickest exit from the French Open since 2010.

Now down to fourth in the world behind Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, Djokovic knows he must lift his game if he wants to eventually challenge for the points lead

Djokovic also confirmed the Wimbledon presence of his French Open VIP coaching advisor Andre Agassi.

“He will be in London for Wimbledon and will stay as long as I stay in the tournament, so that’s great,” Djokovic said.

“The eight or nine days that we spent together at Roland Garros were very valuable for me to get to know him, to learn from him.

“We shared a lot of experiences on and off the court, things that he has been through that I can relate to and vice versa.

“Having him around is not only great for myself but also for tennis. I can see how much he cares about the game, how much he knows the game.

“It was very interesting to hear his perspective on tennis before and now, current tennis, how he analyses my game and what he sees with things moving forward to improve and try to get back on the level desired.”

Djokovic begins his grass season in the second round against qualifier Vasek Pospisil, who beat Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-4.


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Novak Djokovic

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