Novak Djokovic back to tennis, and focused on Wimbledon
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 29, 2015 01:57 PM
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press
AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) — After losing in the French Open final, Novak Djokovic wanted nothing to do with tennis.
For about a week, anyway.
Now, with his opening match at Wimbledon coming Monday on Centre Court, the top-ranked Serb is firmly focused on defending his title.
"Took me some time really to recover and to rest after Paris. I didn't want to think about tennis too much," said Djokovic, who lost to Stan Wawrinka in four sets at Roland Garros. "Got myself on the court about 10 days ago, started practicing on grass.
"Right now I think I'm also 100 percent prepared."
Wimbledon starts this year a bit later than normal, with a three-week break since the French Open. That gave some players more opportunity to make the transition from the slow red clay to the faster grass surface, and gave others the chance to rest.
Roger Federer and Andy Murray, two of Djokovic's main rivals at the All England Club, both won grass-court tournaments in the buildup to Wimbledon. But Djokovic hasn't played a competitive match since facing Wawrinka in Paris.
"It's not of my concern, honestly. I just want to get myself in a best possible shape," Djokovic said Sunday. "I'm aware of the adjustment that is required movement-wise, game-wise, and also mentally for the grass courts coming from clay courts."
The defending women's champion, Petra Kvitova, won't start her tournament until Tuesday. The second-seeded Czech will play Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the first round.
Kvitova also hasn't played since the French Open, where she lost in the fourth round. And she took some time off earlier in the year to rest, skipping big tournaments in Paris and Florida.
"I feel much better than before. I'm really happy to be back on the court to play tennis, to really do what I love," Kvitova said. "It was really tough decision for me to miss the two big tournaments during March. I did do it. I'm glad that I did it."
If Kvitova makes it back to the final this year, she could end up facing Serena Williams. The top-seeded American, who is looking to win her third major title of the year and is on course for a true Grand Slam, will open Monday against Margarita Gasparyan of Russia on Court No. 1.
Kvitova beat Williams in the semifinals at the Madrid Open last month.
"For sure for me was great win. I never beat her before," Kvitova said. "I knew what I have to play. That's what I think is the key if I want to beat her. But it's still long way if I'm going to meet Serena here."
The other woman in the mix is Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion. Sharapova is seeded fourth and will face Johanna Konta of Britain in the first round, following Djokovic on court in the main stadium on Monday
The final match on Centre Court on the opening day will see Wawrinka face Joao Sousa of Portugal.
Wawrinka is heading into Wimbledon after winning his second major title at the French Open. He also won the 2014 Australian Open.
Grass, however, hasn't been the Swiss player's best surface
"Every year it's been better for me. I think since three years now, I feel really good," Wawrinka said Saturday. "I think I still feel grass is good for me. It's important to be ready, to feel good physically, to move well."
Despite Wawrinka's win over Djokovic this month, it's the 28-year-old Serb who remains the favorite at Wimbledon.
Djokovic is 41-3 this year and has twice won the title at the All England Club, including last year's five-set victory over Federer. But he'll have a tough opening match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, a 31-year-old German who has beaten Djokovic once in seven matches.
"Hopefully tomorrow when I get on the court I'll be able to perform my best because that's something that is going to be very much needed in order to win against Kohlschreiber," said Djokovic, the Australian Open champion. "It's one of the toughest first rounds I could get. But this is Grand Slam. This is what it takes."