(Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic beat Japanese wildcard Go Soeda 6-3 7-5 to move into the quarter-finals of the Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Djokovic, who returned to the tour after nursing a shoulder injury that led to his U.S. Open fourth round withdrawal, was on point with his serve, firing 10 aces and winning a remarkable 81% of his first service points.
Soeda is ranked 133rd in the world and did manage to break Djokovic once in the second set when the top seeded Serb served for the match at 5-3 before displaying his resilience once again by saving three match points in the following game.
But despite the home crowd’s support, he was no match for Djokovic who broke the 35-year-old veteran for the fourth time in the one hour, 34 minute contest before serving out the match.
Djokovic next plays fifth seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille who breezed past the other home favourite Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1 6-2, breaking the 24-year-old four times in a 49-minute encounter.
Japan had a reason to cheer, however, after Yasutaka Uchiyama beat Moldova’s Radu Albot who is ranked 91 places above the Japanese in the ATP rankings.
The 27-year-old Uchiyama battled back from a set down to win 6-7(2) 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 25 minutes to move into the quarters where he will face American Reilly Opelka.
Opelka held his nerve in two tiebreaks to beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6(4) 7-6(2).
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)