Novak Djokovic comes back to compete after a three week-break, and he does it for the first time in Eastbourne, where he never played. The World No. 4 approaches the grass-court season being willing to play well and fresh, as after the loss to Dominic Thiem at the Roland Garros he spent more than a week in Serbia with his family before returning in Monte Carlo to practice again. Last Wednesday the decision to play a grass-court event before Wimbledon for the first time since 2010, and especially do it a week before the Grand Slam event, came. Just about this choice, in press conference on Monday Nole said: 'This year I knew I wanted to play one, but I thought Queen's and Halle would be too early for me. I haven't had too many matches this year all in all. That's the reason why I came to Eastbourne. For me it's great to visit a new place, be part of a new event. I don't get to experience that too often. We have more or less the same schedule each year over and over again.'
Nole should hire a new second coach soon, but in the meantime he confirmed Andre Agassi will work with him in Wimbledon from the start of the event (instead of Roland Garros where he left at the end of the first week), as long as Nole stays in the tournament. 'That's great news', Djokovic said. 'Obviously Roland Garros, the eight or nine days that we spent together, were very valuable for me to get to know him, to learn from him. We shared a lot of experiences on and off the court, things that he has been through that I can relate to. So having him around is not only great for myself but also for tennis. He's supposed to arrive for the weekend. So he's going to be there before the tournament starts. For now, we're going with the flow in a way. Andre has a very busy life. He has a big family, he lives on the west coast of America, he's got his foundation, his businesses - he has many, many things in his life that are consuming a lot of time. First of all, I appreciate all his consideration to work with me and to be with me, so we don't have anything formal. We don't have anything signed. It's just as much as he can or he feels to be with me that I embrace that, I accept that, and I'm grateful for it.'
Nole also added he aims to have more consistency in the next few months: 'It does feel different than 12 months ago when I had the four grand slams under my belt, and coming into Wimbledon, completely different than I mentally am today. I still have to trust myself, my abilities to play well, and to win against anybody on any surface. I will just try to reach that consistency level that I need, because I felt like that's something that I was lacking.'
'I've been struggling with the level of tennis', admitted Novak, who won two titles in the last year: Toronto and Doha. 'I've never experienced this particular situation since I started playing professional tennis. I was very fortunate to experience upwards direction in terms of results and improving the game. It's the first time now in a stretch of seven or eight months that I haven't won any big tournament. I'm not playing at my best and I'm aware of that. But I've got to stay positive about myself and my game. It had to happen sooner or later and I'm really glad it did - it made me start asking myself certain questions. I know that things change: I'm 30, not 20 and I have to adjust to that. Things evolve each year and you have to adjust and get the best out of yourself.'