World No.1 Novak Djokovic will begin his quest for a 76th career title at the Rakuten Japan Open where he will make his debut at the ATP 500 event when he plays Australia’s fast-rising star Alexei Popyrin in the opening round. This match will begin at 1.30 pm local time (5 am BST). You can find the Novak Djokovic v Alexei Popyrin live streaming options, preview and predictions here.
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Novak Djokovic v Alexei Popyrin Head to Head
This will be a first-ever meeting on tour between Djokovic and Popyrin.
Djokovic Fit Again And Raring To Go In Tokyo
Novak Djokovic’s unsuccessful title defense at the 2019 US Open could have serious repercussions in his bid to end the year as World No.1. The Serbian superstar was forced to retire in his fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka at Flushing Meadows due to a persistent left shoulder injury, and unsurprisingly it was Nadal – Djokovic’s closest challenger this year – who maximized on that opening.
Djokovic currently trails the Spaniard by 1,960 in the ATP Race To London, and unless the Serb can somehow go on a spree between now and the end of the season, it may not be in his hands to turn the tables.
However, the World No.1 will still have added motivation to excel in Tokyo this week where he will make his debut at the Rakuten Japan Open. Djokovic warmed up for his meeting against Popyrin with a visit to Japanese sumo wrestlers and some doubles action alongside fellow countryman Filip Krajinovic.
Popyrin Won Two Rounds Of Qualifying
At the age of 20, Alexei Popyrin is steadily establishing himself as one of the brightest talents in Australian tennis. Having broken inside the World’s Top 100 for the first time this year, Popyrin also headlined each of the four Grand Slam main draws.
At the Australian Open, he proved if you are good enough you are old enough as he earned a career Top 10 win against Dominic Thiem.
Despite his low ranking which often meant he played a ton of qualifiers at tour-level, he still managed to reach the second round of both French Open and Wimbledon, and a respectable third round showing at the US Open.
Having already garnered two matches under his belt in the qualifiers this week, can Popyrin thwart Novak Djokovic’s latest bid for a 76th career title?
Djokovic v Popyrin Predictions & Tips
This might be Djokovic’s first singles match since US Open, but he is still a heavy favorite to win here. Popyrin might look to test the Serb’s backhand with his explosive first serve and forehand at every opportunity, but I still fancy the World No.1 to prevail without much fuss.
Tip: Under 20.5 games: 4/5 (888Sport)