LONDON—As rain sprinkled down at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, defending Wimbledon champions Petra Kvitova and Novak Djokovic brightened the rooms with huge smiles as they addressed the press on Sunday. Both expressed excitement and motivation to defend their titles at tennis’s most prestigious event.
Neither player entered a warm-up tournament before Wimbledon, even with the extra week between it and the French Open. Kvitova explained an illness hampered her preparations, but hopes to be 100% by Tuesday when she takes the court.
“I’m getting better,” she said. “Unfortunately I get sick in Eastbourne. Every day is better. So I hope on Tuesday will be good form. Of course, the preparation, because I got sick, wasn’t perfect. But I’m trying to find a good form.”
It is not the first time Djokovic skipped the buildup tournaments before a Grand Slam, but the loss at the French Open forced him to take a much deserved break.
“But I needed some time to just mentally recover, rest—more than physical rest, I needed that emotional, mental rest to recharge my batteries and get myself in a proper state of mind so I can start all over again,” he claimed.
Took me some time really to recover and to rest after Paris. I didn’t want to think about tennis too much. I spent time with my family, just done other things. Got myself on the court about 10 days ago, started practicing on grass. Right now I think I’m also 100% prepared. Hopefully tomorrow when I get on the court I’ll be able to perform my best because that’s something that is going to be very much needed in order to win against [Philipp] Kohlschreiber who, as you said, is a very tricky, very good opponent on any surface, but especially on grass.
Two of his biggest rivals, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, competed in two tournaments. Federer soared to an eighth victory at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle while Murray won the Queen’s Club. Murray even exclaimed he is playing and feeling better than he did in 2013 when he won Wimbledon. However, Djokovic does not feel any regret skipping the tournaments or feels threatened about their preparation on grass.
“It’s not of my concern, honestly,” he said. “I just want to get myself in a best possible shape. I’m aware of the adjustment that is required movement‑wise, game‑wise, and also mentally for the grass courts coming from clay courts, playing for three months on the slowest surface where you can slide, where you have a completely different balance, different tactical approach.”
Djokovic is the obvious favorite at Wimbledon, but Kvitova is in the shadows as Serena Williams is once again the favorite to win. However, Williams only lost one match this year and the woman who beat her is none other than Kvitova. She defeated Williams in straight sets in Madrid, 6-2, 6-3. Does Kvitova think she can do it again?
“For sure for me was great win,” she exclaimed. “I never beat her before. So for me was a good match. I really played well. I knew what I have to play. That’s what I think is the key if I want to beat her. But it’s still long way if I going to meet Serena here.”
As defending male champion, Djokivic plays the first match on Centre Court of the tournament on Monday. But the draw handed him Philipp Kohlschreiber, who, as he mentioned above, is not an easy opponent. Kohlschreiber barely defeated Federer at the Gerry Weber Open in mid-June, forcing the great one into a tie break in the third set. Djokovic told the media this determines if he looks at the draw or takes it one match at a time.
“Well, if you see Kohlschreiber in the first round, I think you have to stay where it is, take one match at a time,” he laughed. “Considering the fact, again, I haven’t played any official grass court matches, I don’t allow myself to look more than that.”
Kvitova should enjoy an easier first round against Kiki Bertens from The Netherlands.
“I know that she’s kind of player who she likes to play aggressive serve, really aggressive game from the baseline,” she said. “That’s I think how she going to play. That’s going to be tough to be ready for each point, be ready for the service game and return game. We’ll see.”
Wimbledon begins on Monday, June 29 at 6:30 a.m. Eastern with Nick Kyrgios on the second court and Marin Cilic on the third court. Djokovic plays against Kohlschreiber at 8 a.m. Eastern on Centre Court. Serena Williams begins her tournament against Margarita Gasparyan on First Court at 8 a.m. Eastern.