(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.
“Shoulder is good. I have not felt anything in the previous days, including today, in the match,” Djokovic said. “So I am very pleased to say that and to feel healthy.
“I thought from the beginning to the end, I played really well and on a consistent, high level and (with) good intensity.”
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 favourite Go Soeda in the next round.
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov fired 16 aces in a straight sets victory over Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic, winning 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 21 minutes.
The 20-year-old did not drop serve and needed only two break points to move into the last 16.
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 and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)