By Ros Satar, in Eastbourne
- Novak Djokovic [WC/1] def. Gael Monfils [WC/2] 6-3 6-4
EASTBOURNE, UK – Novak Djokovic’s wildcard paid off as he sailed to the Aegon International title, beating Gael Monfils in straight sets.
Novak Djokovic [WC/1] def. Gael Monfils [WC/2] 6-3 6-4
Where there were maybe a few eyebrows raised when Novak Djokovic opted to take a wildcard into the sea-side town of Eastbourne. There was even concern when the combined event took a clobbering at the hands of the elements with three less courts than normal resulting in two bumper-stacked days of play to catch up the schedule.
But despite the elements…and the seagulls, Djokovic prevailed. The first set looked like it would be routine, with a break to the Serbian in the first game and no sign of a sniff of a chance for Gael Monfils to get into Djokovic’s service games.
Although the No. 1 seed had three chances to take the lead over the Frenchman, Monfils held him off, only to capitulate as Djokovic broke for the first set. Monfils, who had struggled with a niggling knee injury during his semi-final against Richard Gasquet was actually the one putting the pressure on the former World No. 1 in the second set.
The first three break points were all for Monfils, but he was unable to convert on any of them, leaving Djokovic to put paid to his one chance to break for the match.
Much has been made of the fact that he has not played a warm-up event since 2010, but it will have been a gamble that paid off. He had four matches on grass, and while at times he may not have played his best tennis, at the end of the day he comes in a little sharper than his Big Four peers.
He told reporters after the match: “It was a great week. Obviously it feels right to, looking back on the decision-making process and whether or not I should come here, now it feels like it was a good decision. But also, a few days ago it felt right, because I had a lot of time spent on the court, some good match play.
“It was just a great build-up, and hopefully I’ll be able to take the confidence from here, good level of performance, into London.”
‘You can’t have it all’
While Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer arguably come into Wimbledon as the favourites above a struggling Andy Murray, Djokovic has come some way to catch up his contemporaries. After all – none of them really amassed many match wins on their way to the Aorangi practice courts, while Djokovic arrives with matches and a shiny trophy.
This time last year he held all four Slam titles at the same time, this time he is back to zero, but with a surge of confidence which is required to get through the next marathon.
He explained: “That’s kind of my approach, my mind-set. I don’t try to, you know, pity myself or life or anything like that. You can’t always have it all. In order to, in a way, reach the next peak, you need to have a little drop, because, you know, that’s how life kind of circulates around, as waves going up and down.”
Fitting, as he leaves the sea-side and heads to a seagull-less London.
Novak Djokovic will start his campaign in Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Featured Image © Jane Stokes (DJ Stotty Images)
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