Novak Djoković came in Tokyo with a goal to test himself after a shoulder injury that made him drop out of the US Open early. The Serb is also in need of some easy ATP points if he wants to keep Nadal off his back in the fight for the year-end World No. 1 spot.
For now, it seems that Nole is doing fine, as he just booked his place in the quarterfinals of ATP Tokyo (500 series), a tournament which he has never played before.
Djoković beat Alexei Popyrin in the first round, while his second round opponent was the Japanese player Go Soeda. As expected, the best-ranked player in the world didn’t have too many issues moving past the 133rd on the ATP list.
Djoković was forced to save some breakpoints in his first service game of the match, but soon took control and made a break of his own. He broke Soeda once again in the final game of the set which lasted 42 minutes.
Both players held on to their serves in the second set, until Djoković made what seemed like a crucial break in the eighth game. The Serb served for the match, but Soeda fought back and made it 5–5 after saving three match points.
However, Novak quickly put his foot back on the gas pedal, winning the last two games of the match to make it 6–3, 7–5.
Djoković is now in the last eight, and his next opponent will be the 24th player in the world and the fifth seed in Tokyo – Lucas Pouille. The two meet only twice before, both times in 2019. Djoković was victorious in both matches, winning in straight sets on the Australian Open and Cincinnati Masters.
If Novak wins against the Frenchman, he will likely play against either Goffin or Čilić in the semis, the only other two seeded players left in the draw.