Djokovic eyes pre-Wimbledon outing on grass

LONDON • Novak Djokovic is considering playing at the Aegon International in Eastbourne as part of his preparations for Wimbledon.

The Serb, who won the last of his three Wimbledon titles in 2015, has not competed in a grass-court tennis tournament ahead of the Championships since appearing at Queen's Club in 2010, preferring instead to play an exhibition match in the Boodles event at Stoke Park in recent years.

However, the chance to play competitive matches in the week before Wimbledon is one that the 12-time Grand Slam champion, who recently dropped to world No. 4 for the first time since October 2009, is mulling over this year.

"Novak didn't decide yet, but (it) is true that he is taking in consideration to go to play this tournament," a spokesperson for Djokovic told The Times. "He will decide in the next 48 hours."

The spokesperson added that there was no prospect of Djokovic turning up next week at the Aegon Championships at London's Queen's Club or the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.

If Djokovic does play at Eastbourne, it would only be the third time that the 30-year-old has participated in a tournament immediately preceding a Grand Slam event.

The Aegon International, organised by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), has reverted to a combined men's and women's tournament after the separate ATP event held in Nottingham over the past two years did not prove a success.

As the six-week entry deadline for the tournament passed on May 15, Djokovic would need a wild card, which the LTA would not hesitate in awarding to such a star attraction. The men's entry list is not strong, with no players in the top 20 signing up in advance.

The grass courts at Eastbourne are highly regarded and would offer a satisfactory form of preparation for Djokovic in the build-up to Wimbledon.

There is still no indication as to whether Andre Agassi will coach Djokovic during the grass-court season. Agassi left the French Open midway through the tournament .

In Germany, Tomas Berdych became the latest seeded player to crash out of the Stuttgart Open as Spaniard Feliciano Lopez beat the Czech third seed 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the last four yesterday.

The Czech world No. 14, who has reached only one final this year, now joins already-eliminated top seeds Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov on the sidelines.

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2017, with the headline 'Djokovic eyes pre-Wimbledon outing on grass'. Print Edition | Subscribe