WORLD number one Novak Djokovic headlined a stunning opening two days of action at Stoke Park as The Boodles returned for 2019 this week.

The defending Wimbledon champion defeat Chilian Cristian Garin 6-2 6-4 on Tuesday, before a 7-6 6-4 defeat to Denis Sapovalov on Wednesday.


said: “It’s a great environment and great tournament. I’ve been playing here since 2007 and I’m good friends with Patricio, the man in charge of organisation for this event.

“It’s a light-hearted environment, so to say. Fun, engaging and an interactive atmosphere, and people love their tennis. They love showing up and having fun, and lovely smiles in the crowd.

“It’s good preparation, good quality opponents, but at the same time, gives you a little bit less. It moves you away from the stressful, sort of pressure-like moments where you’re anticipating for one of the biggest tournaments in the world.”

Commenting on how his grass court preparations is going ahead of Wimbledon next week, the Serbian said: “It’s only four days that I’ve been training on grass and I put a lot of work into my tennis game.

“Last week, as well, on hard-courts back in my country, and here on grass the last three days.

“I Played a great match on Tuesday against someone that I’ve never faced. A young player, in-form and I thought we played a really good quality match.

“I look forward to having another match, that’s why I’m here, and then hopefully I can continue that kind of rhythm for next week.”

The world number one will be defending his Wimbledon crown next week, adding: “Wimbledon is for me, and probably many players, the greatest and most important tournament in the world.

“It was a huge turning point for me last year, coming off from surgery and dropping out of the top 20 to win Wimbledon. It meant a lot to my confidence and just the quality of my tennis.

“Things change, you know, when you win a Grand Slam. Regardless of your ranking, it just effects your whole life and your confidence and the way you feel on the court.

“Since that it was all upwards, right for me in the last 12 months, and I’ve been blessed to be number one and win three out of four Slams.

“I’m in form, I’m playing really good tennis. I feel really natural on the grass, and I look forward to participating in Wimbledon.”

Commenting on his win against Djokovic in midweek, Sapovalov said: “I’m going to speak to the tournament and hopefully they’re going to give me a few ATP points for the win.

“I’m enjoying my time, it’s been a great match and it’s honestly an honour to be out on court with a champion like Novak.”

Of facing Djokovic, he added: “It’s extremely tough. He comes out with almost any shot, he can hit anything, practically and he doesn’t give you much.

“It’s really challenging when you come out against him. you have to play your ‘A’ game. You have to go for your shots, and that’s pretty much what I did.”