Novak Djokovic was victorious back on British grass as he defeated Frances Tiafoe at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at Hurlingham.
The 36-year-old will bid to equal Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles over the next fortnight, and he looked fully at ease in a light-hearted clash at the exhibition event.
As he has routinely done in recent years, Djokovic did not enter an official warm-up tournament, instead prioritising rest and recuperation after winning his 23rd grand slam title at the French Open.
The Serbian practised on Centre Court with Italian Jannik Sinner on Thursday afternoon before making the short trip across the river to Hurlingham, where he struck the ball crisply in a 6-3 3-6 (10/7) victory over Tiafoe.
“It’s always fun playing with Frances,” said Djokovic. “We get along really well. Obviously Wimbledon’s round the corner so we try to get some match play. It’s a beautiful club.”
Of his hit with Sinner, Djokovic added: “It was a little bit strange I must say that they’re allowing us to hit on Centre Court before the tournament starts. It was the first time last year.
“This year I had the privilege again, to go out on fresh grass, feel the court. It’s the best court in the world. Every year feels like the first time. It’s going to be another great year hopefully for all of us.”
Earlier in the afternoon, British number one Cameron Norrie claimed his second victory of the week at Hurlingham, defeating Serbia’s Laslo Djere 6-3 6-2.
Norrie, who was knocked out in the quarter-finals at Queen’s Club by Sebastian Korda last week, again wore strapping under his left knee.
He played down any injury concerns, though, saying: “I’m able to practise as usual. Having some bigger days earlier in the week and then to get these matches has been great. I’m doing everything that I can to manage it.
“I think the most important thing is just to go out there and just to put it aside. I’m going to have some discomfort at some points and that’s how it’s going to be.
“I felt really good today and I had a great performance. I’m exactly where I want to be. It’s good preparation having the matches at Queen’s and here. It’s my favourite time of year. I’m really enjoying my tennis and I’m hitting the ball I think as well as ever.”