LONDON, United Kingdom, Jun 21 – Three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is to play at the ATP tournament in Eastbourne, southern England, in preparation for the grasscourt Grand Slam, it was announced Wednesday.
It will be the first time the struggling Djokovic has played a grass-court event between the French Open and Wimbledon since 2010.
The 30-year-old Serb saw his French Open title defence come to a surprise halt with a straight sets quarter-final loss to the up-and-coming Dominic Thiem on the clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris earlier this month.
Now, following what was his quickest exit from the French Open in seven years, 12-time Grand Slam champion is to play Eastbourne, which runs from June 23-July 1 after accepting a main draw wildcard.
“This will be my first trip to Eastbourne, I have heard great things about the tournament,” said 12-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic in a statement. “I am looking forward to fine tuning my grass court game there ahead of Wimbledon.”
World number four Djokovic comes into the event will be the tournament’s top seed ahead of number two Gael Monfils and number three John Isner.
Originally a women’s only event, Eastbourne has been expanded to include men’s tennis as well and tournament director Gavin Fletcher said: “The quality of the men’s and women’s entries is already incredibly high, and the addition of Novak will take the event to an even higher level.”
The WTA side of the tournament features seven of the world’s top 10 female players including world number one Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova (number three), 2016 champion Dominika Cibulkova (number six), 2009 champion Caroline Wozniacki (number eight), and Britain’s world number seven Johanna Konta.