Eastbourne Tennis: Novak Djokovic and Karolina Pliskova triumph at Devonshire Park
Novak Djokovic said the warm welcome he received from the people of Eastbourne helped inspire him to win the Aegon International.
The 12-time Grand Slam winner was crowned champion at Devonshire Park after he beat Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3 6-4 in front of a capacity crowd on centre court.
“Most of all, I felt very welcomed here by the people,” said the 30-year-old. “On and off the court I was greeted. I was respected. It was just a phenomenal experience that I will definitely take with me to Wimbledon. I will not rule out coming back to Eastbourne next year or the following years. I think it’s different here in a way because I spent a lot of time every day interacting with people on the grounds. You’re in the midst of all the crowd.
“So that allowed me to be close to them. Every single person that I met in this eight, nine days that I spent here was warm and affectionate and kind. If you have that kind of energy that goes around the grounds, of course it gives you even more, I guess, inspiration to play your best and of course to finish up with a trophy. It’s the cherry on the cake.”
The three time Wimbledon champion will face Slovakia’s Martin Klizan in the first round at SW19 next week.
Czech player Karolina Pliskova will hope to follow in the footsteps of Jana Novotna after winning the Aegon International Eastbourne.
Novotna was the last Czech to lift the trophy at Eastbourne in 1998 and went on to win at Wimbledon that year.
Pliskova was ruthlessly efficient as she beat 2009 Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets 6-4 6-4 in 1hr21min. It was the world No 3’s third title of the year while Wozniacki has reached four finals in 2017 and lost them all.
It was always going to be tricky for Wozniacki who played a tough sem-final against Britain’s Heather Watson while Pliskova had the day off following the withdrawal of Johanna Konta.
The Pliskova serve is an almighty weapon and the 6ft 2” world No.3 banged down 10 aces to take her tournament tally to 37 and 276 for the year, the most on tour. Her long stride and deep, powerful shots along with a good touch a the net make her a formidable oponent on any surface - she’ll take some beating at Wimbledon.
Pliskova said, “I didn’t really expect this start of the grass court season, but it gave me a lot of confidence coming to London. But it’s the same last year. I was also in final. Didn’t get the trophy but I didn’t do well in Wimbledon, so hopefully, I believe it can change with this trophy this year.
“So far it’s my one final and one trophy in two years. Definitely I will try to come back every year. I have been enjoying this tournament so much.”
Wozniacki, a former world No 1, did her best in her 46th final of an excellent career. At a set down and 3-3 in the second she forced seven dueces in an attempt to break the Czech’s serve. Pliskova though held firm and the fight drained from Wozniacki.
The 26-year-old said, “It was definitely a good battle out there. I thought both of us played very well. I think it was pretty high level from both of us. I hit good forehands and backhands and I served well. I moved well, too. So I think there is a lot of positives to take with. It’s great. You know, the crowd is always amazing and coming out and supporting, and I feel like it’s the same faces you see year in and year out.”