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Refreshed Djokovic is leaving French woe in the past

By Tom Allnutt

Novak Djokovic admits he needed a complete break from tennis to get over his French Open heartbreak but has warned his rivals he is now refreshed and raring to go for a third Wimbledon title.

The World No 1 played his first grass-court game of the season on Thursday, beating Richard Gasquet in an exhibition match at The Boodles in Buckinghamshire, almost three weeks after his shock defeat to Stan Wawrinka in the Paris final.

While Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have all been winning grass-court titles in the build-up to Wimbledon next week, Djokovic has taken time off to relax and recuperate with his family.

It proved a winning formula 12 months ago when the Serb was crowned champion in SW19 and he admits the break has helped him overcome his disappointment at Roland Garros.

"I needed some time off, more mentally rather than physically," Djokovic said. "There are days when you really need to take some time off and even though I know it could have been useful to play a couple of matches on grass, it's not the first time I'm coming straight into Wimbledon.

"I've regrouped, spent some time with the family, got my thoughts off tennis for a little bit - now I'm back in my office and hopefully I'll be able to perform.

"I understand that I have privileges in life and am able to afford many beautiful things and we enjoy that, but at home I do a lot of ordinary things.

"Laundry, garbage, cleaning. But generally these things give me thankfulness and the peace and quiet that you need."

Djokovic was heavy favourite to clinch his first French Open title as he entered the final on the back of 28 consecutive victories, as well as success at the Australian Open in January.

Wawrinka's win was the shock of the tournament but Djokovic insists he has come to terms with the defeat.

"How long did it take to get over it? Not too long," Djokovic said.

"Honestly, not too long because it's happened a few times unfortunately for me, missing out at the final step in Paris.

"As a player you have to get used to these kinds of feelings.

"The tennis season is very particular, it's probably the longest season out of all the sports and you need to be able to accept the fact that's behind you and move on. It's easier said than done, it's a big tournament and it means a lot to me. I invested a lot of energy and of course it was disappointing.

"But I did experience a positive side in the closing ceremony with Stan and the way we showed respect to each other.

"I really appreciate him as a person, not just as a player. Those kinds of moments you remember forever and I was really fortunate to be part of that special moment.

"Now I'm going to get out on the virgin grass on Monday, I can't wait for that, and I need to gather all my thoughts and direct them towards winning Wimbledon."

Djokovic will play Phillip Kohlschreiber in round one and is in the opposite half to Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.

He is widely tipped to defend the title he won last year.

"I always have high expectations for myself," Djokovic said.

"I've won it a couple of times already in my career so I have to be honest and say I am going to Wimbledon with the intention and desire to win the title but I'm not the only one.

"There's 128 players competing to win this most precious trophy we have in sport."

Caroline Wozniacki faces a fitness battle to be ready for action at Wimbledon after withdrawing from her semi-final against Belinda Bencic at the Aegon International in Eastbourne.

Wozniacki withdrew with back trouble when 3-0 down to Bencic in the first set at Eastbourne yesterday, and will be aiming for a quick recovery in time for SW19.

Wozniacki lasted just 10 minutes against Bencic at Eastbourne, dropping serve twice before retiring.

Wimbledon's fifth seed is due to face China's Saisai Zheng in first round action on Tuesday in south west London.

Swiss teenager Bencic will now face ninth seed Agnieska Radwanska in the Eastbourne final.

Belfast Telegraph


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