Djokovic, Pliskova claim East­bourne ti­tles

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

No­vak Djokovic clinched his first ti­tle since Jan­uary with a 6-3, 6-4 vic­tory over Gael Mon­fils in yes­ter­day’s East­bourne fi­nal, while Karolina Pliskova lifted the women’s tro­phy af­ter de­feat­ing Caro­line Woz­ni­acki. Djokovic, play­ing the week be­fore Wim­ble­don for the first time since 2010, cap­tured his 68th ca­reer ti­tle-but just the se­cond this year-af­ter down­ing Mon­fils for the 14th time in as many meet­ings. “It’s been a while now that I have been try­ing to find my best game and kind of con­sis­tency with the per­for­mance level of ten­nis,” the Serb, whose form has dra­mat­i­cally tailed off since com­plet­ing the ca­reer Grand Slam at last year’s French Open, said.

“It hasn’t been the case for me in the last 12 months to win many big tour­na­ments. “But not to get into too deep, it’s the way it is, and life throws cer­tain chal­lenges at us when we ex­pect the least. You’ve got to go out and face the ad­ver­si­ties and learn from these ex­pe­ri­ences and try to evolve, try to grow.” The world num­ber four will face Slo­vakia’s Martin Kl­izan in the first round at Wim­ble­don, where he is a three-time for­mer cham­pion. “It (his East­bourne cam­paign) was just a phe­nom­e­nal ex­pe­ri­ence that I will def­i­nitely take with me to Wim­ble­don,” Djokovic added. “I will not rule out com­ing back to East­bourne next year or the fol­low­ing years.

“It was a great buildup, and hope­fully I’ll be able to take the con­fi­dence from here, good level of per­for­mance, into London.” The Serb, who will have for­mer play­ers An­dre Agassi and Mario Ancic on his Wim­ble­don coach­ing team, spent only an hour and a quar­ter in taming the French se­cond seed. Djokovic has now won 19 con­sec­u­tive matches against French play­ers and 56 of 57 dat­ing back to the 2010 Davis Cup fi­nal. He didn’t drop serve, while break­ing Mon­fils three times en route to his first grass-court ti­tle out­side of Wim­ble­don.

PLISKOVA UN­DER­LINES WIM­BLE­DON CRE­DEN­TIALS

Ear­lier, third seed Pliskova beat Dan­ish sixth seed Woz­ni­acki 6-4, 6-4 to un­der­line her sta­tus as a Wim­ble­don ti­tle con­tender. The Czech se­cured her third ti­tle of the sea­son af­ter break­ing Woz­ni­acki once in both sets, leav­ing the Dane still search­ing for a first tro­phy since her win in Hong Kong last Oc­to­ber.

“I just wanted to play some matches and to see how it goes and to have some hits on grass, es­pe­cially when I came from Czech (Repub­lic), I didn’t prac­tise much on grass,” Pliskova said.

“That’s what hap­pened, and it came out that I got the ti­tle. I didn’t re­ally ex­pect this start of the grass­court sea­son, but it gave me a lot of con­fi­dence com­ing to London.” Pliskova needed 80 min­utes to win the tro­phy and be­come the first top-10 player to win the event since for­mer Wim­ble­don cham­pion Mar­ion Bar­toli in 2011. The world num­ber three was clin­i­cal in go­ing one bet­ter than when she lost to Do­minika Cibulkova in last year’s fi­nal, becoming the first Czech to win the East­bourne ti­tle since Jana Novotna in 1998.

The 25-year-old fired ten aces in an im­pres­sive serv­ing dis­play, as Woz­ni­acki was un­suc­cess­ful on four break-point chances.

Pliskova will go into Wim­ble­don as one of the favourites for the ti­tle, hav­ing also reached the French Open semi-fi­nals at Roland Garros last month. — AFP

— AP

EASBOURNE: Czech Repub­lic’s Karolina Pliskova, left, holds the tro­phy af­ter win­ning against Den­mark’s Caro­line Woz­ni­acki, right, in the Women’s Sin­gles Fi­nal at the AE­GON In­ter­na­tional ten­nis tour­na­ment at Devon­shire Park, East­bourne, (in­set) Ser­bia’s No­vak Djokovic kisses the tro­phy af­ter vic­tory over France’s Gael Mon­fils at the ATP Ae­gon In­ter­na­tional ten­nis tour­na­ment in East­bourne.

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