Novak Djoković seems to be back at his absolute best, after sprinting into the semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Lucas Pouille in the quarter-finals of the Japan Open. Djoković added to earlier season hard-court wins over Pouille at Cincinnati and Australian Open, without dropping a set in those matches.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion hit five aces in storming to a one-set lead after only 20 minutes of play, as he broke Pouille twice. The Frenchmen continued to play nervy as he double-faulted to hand Djoković break to start the second set. The Serb went on to earn 70% of the total points.
Djoković played an ultimate match – almost perfect. His rival simply didn’t stand a chance today against the motivated Serb who demonstrated class in both sets.
This was one of the best matches I played this year. Certainly the best this week and it came at the right time. This was a perfect game. Lucas was good in previous tournament matches. I watched him a few days ago against Nishioka; he was great. I didn’t give him time to position himself for punches. I served well, had a lot of aces, returned well, and basically used every opportunity,” said the world’s best player after the match.
The 32-year old Serb is aiming to lift the fourth trophy of the season (after Australian Open, Madrid, and Wimbledon), and his 76th overall. He previously posted a 29-0 record at the China Open in Beijing, before deciding to change his Asian swing schedule. Djoković will either face his Australian Open nemesis Hyeon Chung or the 2017 champion David Goffin for a place in the final.