Djokovic hits form, wins title at Eastbourne

EASTBOURNE: 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.”

Monfils congratulated his conqueror: “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 longstanding coaching team.

However, on Saturday just as throughout the week at a tournament, 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 win in 76 minutes.

PLISKOVA TRIUMPHS

Karolina Pliskova gave herself the perfect pre-Wimbledon tonic by lifting the Aegon International title on the grass at Eastbourne, defeating Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4.

The Czech world number three demonstrated once again just why, with her big serves and crushing groundstrokes, she could be the one to beat at Wimbledon over the next fortnight as she annexed her third title of the season.

Denmark’s Wozniacki, the world No 6 who had hoped to regain the title she last won in 2009, held on in game fashion but succumbed to a break of serve in each set and, despite a second set push, could not dent Pliskova’s formidable delivery.

“This feels better,” said the 25-year-old , comparing her feeling to the defeat in the final last year. Reminded that Jana Novotna had been the last Czech woman to win at Eastbourne before going to triumph at Wimbledon in the same year, she added: “My service is definitely my biggest weapon and if it’s working it causes the other player a lot of problems.

“I’m going to go step-by-step and hopefully I can go far at Wimbledon.”

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