Djokovic overpowers Pouille to reach Japan Open semifinals
TOKYO -- Showing no lingering effects of a shoulder injury, Novak Djokovic coasted into the semifinals of the Japan Open on Friday with a straight-sets win over Lucas Pouille.
Top-ranked Djokovic, who is attempting to win a title on his tournament debut for the 10th time, needed just 50 minutes at Ariake Colosseum to dispatch the fifth-seeded Pouille 6-1, 6-2 and set up a semifinal with either Hyeon Chung or David Goffin, who won here in 2017.
Djokovic got off to a strong start, winning the first game with a powerful ace, one of five in the first set.
He broke Pouille in the next game to take a 2-0 lead and went up 5-1 after another break before serving to win the first set in just 20 minutes.
The second set was more of the same with Djokovic breaking Pouille in the first game and taking a 4-1 lead before Pouille won his first game of the set.
Pouille showed a brief sign of life by breaking Djokovic to make it 4-2 but that was as close as he would get. Djokovic broke in the next game and then served out to win with a powerful forehand to the corner.
Djokovic retired with a left-shoulder injury during his fourth-round match against Stan Wawrinka at the U.S. Open.
In his first competitive match since facing Wawrinka, Djokovic was knocked out of the doubles with Filip Krajinovic on Monday but beat Alexei Popyrin in the first round and Japanese wild card entry Go Soeda in the second round.
In other matches, Reilly Opelka beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 6-3 and will face John Millman in the semifinals. Millman overpowered Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-0.