World No.3 Novak Djokovic believes not having a run on grass ahead of Wimbledon is going to hamper his chances of winning his fourth straight title at the All England Lawn Tennis Club when action commences on June 27.
In each of his past two Wimbledon title runs, the Serbian's opening match on SW19 was his first grass-court match of the season. Even this year, the winner of 20 majors has not played a tournament on grass coming into Wimbledon but it doesn't seem to affect Djokovic.
His last competitive match was a quarterfinal clash against Spanish stalwart Rafael Nadal at the French Open. By the time Djokovic takes the Centre Court on Monday against Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea, he will have spent nearly a month between appearances.
"I didn't have any lead-up tournaments to Wimbledon, but I've had success in Wimbledon in the past without having any official matches and tournaments," Djokovic was quoted as saying by atptour.com.
"Over the years, I had success with adapting quickly to the surface, so there is no reason not to believe I can do it again. Over the years I learned how to play more efficiently on the (grass) surface as well.
At the beginning of my career, I was still struggling a bit with movement and sliding, et cetera."I think movement is the biggest one really, the biggest adaptation that needs to be done on the grass coming from the clay, where players like myself slide quite a lot.
On grass that's not always possible. It is possible to slide, but you can't do it as frequently or as often or maybe as free as you do it on clay," opined Djokovic.
Djokovic said the key on grass is to adjust to the low bounce and skiddy returns."You have to be more careful with the movement, tactics, et cetera, different training regimen.
Different position on the court. You have to be lower; everything kind of skids through the court. It's very quick and bounces low, contrary to the clay, which bounces high."
Djokovic is standing on the threshold of matching American great Pete Sampras' feat of winning seven Wimbledon title, which would put him one shy of Swiss ace Roger Federer's record eight.
"I would like to be in the (final) to eventually make history," Djokovic said. "Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon was the first tennis match I've ever seen on the TV.
So of course there is a lot of connection to this tournament. Pete has won it seven times... Hopefully I can do the same this year."