World number one Novak Djokovic showed no signs of discomfort as he banished Frenchman Lucas Pouille in straight sets in the Japan Open 2019 quarterfinal on Friday.
Djokovic ran off to 6-1, 6-2 win over Pouille to seal his semi-final berth and send a strong signal to his opponents for the rest of the season including the Shanghai Masters that begins soon. The Serb is the defending champion in Shanghai and is playing at the Japan Open for the first time in a bid to get used to the conditions in preparation for next year’s Olympics that will he hosted in Tokyo.
Despite having beaten Pouille twice this year, and both times in straight sets, this was expected to be a test for the world number one who was returning to tennis following a shoulder injury that caused him to withdraw from his match at the US Open. However, in a performance similar to the Australian Open, where he had crushed Pouille 6-0, 6-2, 6-2, Djokovic came through with much ease.
Djokovic broke Pouille in the very second game of the opening set and then again in the sixth game to scythe past his opponent in the first set. And before he knew it, Pouille was a break down in the second set as well, before Djokovic made it two in a row to take a 4-0 lead.
The Frenchman won his first game of the set off his own serve before stunningly getting better of Djokovic on his serve to push the match a tad further. However, Djokovic wrapped up the next two games to win the match with ease.
He will take on the winner of the match between David Goffin and Hyeon Chung in his semifinal tomorrow.
In the other quarter-finals, Reilly Opelka was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over surprise entrant and Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama while Aussie qualifier John Millman defeated Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-0 to enter the semi-finals. Opelka will now face Millman for a place in the final.