Sampras-Chasing Djokovic Confident Of Smooth Transition To Grass At Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jun 25, 2022

Sampras-Chasing Djokovic Confident Of Smooth Transition To Grass At Wimbledon

Serbian seeking fourth straight Wimbledon title

In each of his past two Wimbledon trophy runs, Novak Djokovic’s opening match on the London lawns was his first grass-court match of the season. Now seeking a fourth straight title at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the Serbian’s preparations have not changed.

His last competitive match was a quarter-final epic against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. By the time the top-seeded Djokovic takes to Centre Court on Monday against Soonwoo Kwon, he will have spent nearly a month between appearances.

“I didn’t have any lead-up tournaments to Wimbledon, but I’ve had success in Wimbledon in the past without having any official matches and tournaments,” said Djokovic.

“Over the years, I had success with adapting quickly to the surface, so there is no reason not to believe I can do it again.”

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Djokovic discussed the delicate balance between rest and grass-court match play leading up to Wimbledon, explaining how later in his career, his priorities have shifted to the former.

“Over the years I learned how to play more efficiently on the surface as well”, he continued. “At the beginning of my career, I was still struggling a bit with movement and sliding, et cetera.

“I think movement is the biggest one really, the biggest adaptation that needs to be done on the grass coming from the clay, where players like myself slide quite a lot. On grass that’s not always possible. It is possible to slide, but you can’t do it as frequently or as often or maybe as free as you do it on clay.

“You have to be more careful with the movement, tactics, et cetera, different training regimen. Different position on the court. You have to be lower; everything kind of skids through the court. It’s very quick and bounces low, contrary to the clay, which bounces high.”

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At the event he called his “childhood dream tournament”, Djokovic has an opportunity to match Pete Sampras by winning his seventh Wimbledon title. That would put him one shy of Roger Federer’s record eight.

“I would like to be in the [final] to eventually make history,” Djokovic said. “Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon was the first tennis match I’ve ever seen on the TV. So of course there is a lot of connection to this tournament. Pete has won it seven times… Hopefully I can do the same this year.”

Leading the draw as the top seed, Djokovic could face countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the third round, with Carlos Alcaraz a potential quarter-final opponent.

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