July 1, 2017
(Reuters) – Novak Djokovic looked to have regained his confidence and form just in time for another concerted Wimbledon assault as he carved out an emphatic win over Gael Monfils in the Aegon International grasscourt final at Eastbourne on Saturday.
Djokovic once again wrapped up a 6-3 6-4 victory over the Frenchman he consistently gets the better of, lifting the title in his first visit to Devonshire Park without dropping a single set.
The Serb then confirmed on court that his friend, former Croatian player Mario Ancic, would be a new part of his coaching team, along with Andre Agassi, at Wimbledon next week.
“It was my first time at Eastbourne and I hope I can see you guys in the years to come,” Djokovic told the crowd. “This is the best possible preparation for next week, so hopefully I can go on from here.”
The ever-popular Monfils could only congratulate his conqueror and note ruefully: “Well done, Novak. We played for the 14th time and it’s 14-0. Well done again!”
It was only Djokovic’s second title of a difficult year in which he has struggled for form, faced injuries and split with his long-standing coaching team.
However, on Saturday just as throughout the week at a tournament whose organizers were delighted to offer him a wild card to compete, the 30-year-old seemed rejuvenated by the bracing English seaside air.
Monfils put up a decent challenge but Djokovic controlled affairs, breaking in the opening game and also to close out the first set before again striking at the end of a closely-contested second to seal victory in 76 minutes.
Djokovic, who lifted his 68th career title and his first grasscourt title outside Wimbledon, now heads for the grand slam in good heart as he seeks a fourth title there, where he will enjoy having 33-year-old Ancic in his coaching corner.
“Mario’s my very good friend,” said Djokovic. “Once he was number seven in the world and he beat (Roger) Federer at Wimbledon. He was very talented but was very unfortunate with injuries and illnesses that ended his career early.
“But we always stayed in touch and he’s one of the closest friends I ever had on the tour. He took a different direction in life, in the finiancial business, but I’ve dragged him back over to the sport.
“Now I’m really glad to spend time with him, and Agassi as well, in London.”
At Wimbledon, Djokovic will seek to become the first player to win an ATP World Tour title and a grand slam in consecutive weeks since Patrick Rafter won Long Island and the US Open in 1998.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar, Neville Dalton)