This time last year, the former world number one Novak Djokovic was the holder of all four Grand Slam singles title. A year later, he is the holder of none. Nevertheless, the Serb is playing a pre-warm-up event between the French Open and Wimbledon for the first time since 2010.
Djokovic is making his debut at the Aegon International in Eastbourne, as he is looking for some matches ahead of Wimbledon. The three-time Wimbledon champion had to endure a rain delay yesterday after playing a game and a half and resumed his campaign on Wednesday. Djokovic defeated the 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Vasek Pospisil, 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 25 minutes. The Serb will play an American in either Donald Young or Jared Donaldson in the quarterfinals tomorrow.
The men's singles seedings for Wimbledon came out today, and despite being ranked at number four in the world, Djokovic will be the second seed due to his past performances on grass in the past few years, where he has won Wimbledon three times in the last five years.
Rain halted play but Djokovic returned the following day to claim the opening set
The top seed in Eastbourne served first serve, and he was immediately under pressure. The 12-time Grand Slam champion had to stave off two break points at 15-40. He stayed mentally strong in a 24-shot rally, which inevitably was going to come out on top as Pospisil got impatient and committed an unforced error. Djokovic went on to save the next one with a good serve out wide.
Djokovic held onto his serve to lead 1-0, and it looked as though that he was going to break Pospisil in the next game. The world number 75 trailed at 15-30 on his serve, when the Heavens opened. The play was suspended for the rest of the day on Tuesday and players
returned today. The 27-year-old started off well with a good serve, followed by a volley winner. Moreover, the three-time Wimbledon created a break point with a super return and a backhand winner down the line. Pospisil saved it with an ace out wide, and he held serve to level proceedings at 1-1.
Both players held onto their next service games with relative ease, and the former world number one nudged ahead in the scoreboard with a 3-2 lead. Pospisil's serve continued to be under pressure as Djokovic created another break point as he was unable to deal with
the Serb's return, who was starting to figure out Pospisil's serve and volley rhythm. He found his first serve at a crucial time by saving the break point with an ace out wide. He held onto his serve to restore parity at 3-3.
The former world number one continued to hold onto his serve with ease stretching out to a 4-3 lead. The pressure was mounting on the Canadian as Djokovic continued to return well and Pospisil was at 15-30 on his serve. Nevertheless, Pospisil held onto his serve by winning three remarkable points in succession by producing some good serves down the middle, followed by forehand winners and he sealed off the game with an ace down the T to level the match at 4-4.
The business end of the set proved to be tricky for the former world number 25 as Djokovic created his first set point with a stunning return out wide. Pospisil saved the first set point but he was unable to save the second one with a tame forehand unforced error in the net.
Djokovic completes a winning return by becoming the first player to reach the quarterfinals
Both players continued to serve well in the second set as Djokovic breaking first in the second set was crucial as he could apply scoreboard pressure on Pospisil who was always playing catch up. The Serb raced out to a 2-1 in the second set, however, the former world number 25 created a break point by virtue of the top seed committing a backhand unforced error.
The former world number one saved it in style by producing a devastating forehand winner down the line, and he sealed the game with an ace out wide to lead 3-2. Arguably, Djokovic played his best returning game of the match as he produced stunning forehand winners down the line to create two break points. The top seed broke Pospisil with another good return with Pospisil handing Djokovic the break.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion was composed in all aspects of his game as the serving, returning and volleying skills all worked well in the match. Djokovic stretched out to a commanding 5-2 with an easy service hold to consolidate the break.
Pospisil asked Djokovic the serve out for the match question with an easy hold but it was game over for the former Wimbledon doubles champion as the three-time Wimbledon won the match on his second match point by producing a good serve out wide to clinch victory in his first match since losing to Dominic Thiem at the French Open, 6-4, 6-3.