Tennis

Novak Djokovic takes Japan Open with eye on Tokyo Olympics

AFP-JIJI

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic clinched the Japan Open on Sunday, dispelling concerns about the shoulder injury that forced him out of the U.S. Open.

The Serbian star crushed Australian qualifier John Millman 6-3, 6-2 to mark his 10th win in a tournament main draw debut.

Djokovic, playing in his first Japanese competition, dominated throughout the week, never losing a single set on the way to claiming the trophy at Ariake Colosseum, a venue for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Beaming Djokovic, the winner of 16 Grand Slams, now goes to the Shanghai Masters, where he is the top seed.

“I didn’t drop a set, so I played a fantastic tournament. Everything is positive in my experience on and off the court, the way I feel and motivated for Shanghai, going there with great confidence,” he said.

“I am hoping I can finish the season in this style,” added Djokovic, who was competing for the first time since pulling out of the US Open due to a left shoulder injury.

The triumph in Tokyo has boosted his confidence going into the Olympics too.

“Considering that Olympic Games are high always on my list of goals and priorities and wishes, I wanted to feel the surface and see and experience how it feels playing on this court,” Djokovic said.

“I am very glad now, seeing and experiencing how I play (in Ariake) because I feel comfortable. It feels great playing on this court… I am hoping that can also be the case in the Olympics.”

Djokovic started the Japan Open by taking part in a doubles game and switched to higher gears as the week progressed, never allowing his opponents, including world No. 15 David Goffin, to pose a serious threat.

In the final, Djokovic grabbed an early break in the first set to take a 3-1 lead with a series of sizzling serves and precision returns that had Millman scrambling across the baseline.

The Serb kept sending sharp returns to deep corners, mixing them with elegant drop shots.

Djokovic fired six aces, never committed a double fault, and scored points on 26 of his 30 successful first serves.

He never faced a break point, while Millman managed to survive only one of four break points during the match.

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