FILE PHOTO: Aug 13, 2019; Mason, OH, USA; Novak Djokovic (SRB) returns a shot against Sam Querrey (USA) during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Lindner Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
(Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic blasted past qualifier Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-2 on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
Playing in his first singles match since retiring from his U.S. Open fourth-round match with Stan Wawrinka due to a left shoulder issue, the Serb showed he was fighting fit as he fired seven aces and won 84% of points on his first serve.
Djokovic, now into his 271st week at number one having passed Ivan Lendl (270) for third place in the all-time list, takes on local favorite Go Soeda in the next round.
Japanese wildcard Taro Daniel stunned second seed Borna Coric 6-4 4-6 7-6(5), while compatriot Yasutaka Uchiyama took down French fourth seed Benoit Paire 6-2 6-2.
Seventh seed Taylor Fritz fell 6-3 6-4 to fellow American Reilly Opelka, while Radu Albot and Gilles Simon advanced.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson