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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Novak Djokovic proud of decision to play at Eastbourne after winning title

Former world No 1 gets better of Gael Monfils in men's final after Karolina Pliskova becomes first Czech since Jana Novotna to lift women's trophy.

Novak Djokovic arrives in Abu Dhabi for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship having not played since Wimbledon in July. Matthew Childs / Reuters
Novak Djokovic arrives in Abu Dhabi for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship having not played since Wimbledon in July. Matthew Childs / Reuters

Novak Djokovic clinched his first title since January with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Gael Monfils in Saturday'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 great decision to come here," Djokovic, whose form has dramatically tailed off since completing the career Grand Slam at last year's French Open, told Eurosport. "Coming to Eastbourne I obviously haven't had as much success as in previous seasons during the first six months."

The world No 4 will face Slovakia's Martin Klizan in the first round at Wimbledon where he is a three-time former champion.

Meanwhile, the Serb confirmed on court that his friend, former Croatian player Mario Ancic, would be a new part of his coaching team, along with Andre Agassi, at Wimbledon next week.

"Mario's my very good friend," said Djokovic. "Once he was No 7 in the world and he beat [Roger] Federer at Wimbledon. He was very talented but was very unfortunate with injuries and illnesses that ended his career early.

"But we always stayed in touch and he's one of the closest friends I ever had on the tour. He took a different direction in life, in the financial business, but I've dragged him back over to the sport.

"Now I'm really glad to spend time with him, and Agassi as well, in London."

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.

Pliskova needed 90 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 No 3 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.

* Agence France-Presse

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