In each of his last two runs for the Wimbledon trophy, Novak Djokovic's first match on grass in London was his first grass-court match of the season. As he seeks a fourth consecutive title at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the Serb's preparations have not changed.
His last competitive match was an epic quarter-final against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. By the time top seed Djokovic hits center court on Monday against Soonwoo Kwon, nearly a month will have passed between appearances.
"I didn't have any tournaments before Wimbledon, but I've had success at Wimbledon in the past without having any official matches or tournaments," Djokovic said. "Over the years, I've been successful at quickly adapting to the surface, so there's no reason not to believe I can do it again."
Djokovic spoke about the delicate balance between rest and grass matches before Wimbledon, explaining how, later in his career, his priorities have shifted to the former. "Over the years, I've also learned to play more efficiently on the surface," he continued.
"At the beginning of my career, I was still struggling a bit with movement and gliding etcetera. I think movement is really the biggest issue, the biggest adaptation that needs to be done on grass after clay, where players like me slide quite a bit.
On grass that's not always possible. It's possible to slide, but you can't do it as often or as often or maybe as freely as you do on powder." "You have to be more careful with the movements, the tactics, a different form of training.
A different position on the court. You have to be lower; everything slips on the court. It's very fast and bounces low, unlike powder that bounces high." In the event he called his "childhood dream tournament," Djokovic has a chance to match Pete Sampras in winning his seventh Wimbledon title.
Djokovic returns to the Wimbledon Championships
"Some wonderful memories for me for the last three editions of Wimbledon and hopefully I can continue that run. I didn't have any lead-up tournaments to Wimbledon but I have had success at Wimbledon in the past without having any official matches and tournaments.
I just had one exhibition match a few days ago in Hurlingham," Novak Djokovic said. "But over the years, as I said, I have had success with adapting quickly to the surface so there is no reason not to believe that I cannot do it again and I am of course very pleased and happy to be back at the tournament that was always my childhood dream tournament and the one that I always wanted to win," he added.