‘My game is going in the right direction,’ declares Novak Djokovic as he racks up another win
Novak Djokovic says he is confident his game is ‘going in the right direction’ after he continued his comeback from a shoulder injury by beating Go Soeda at the Japan Open.
The world number one arrived in Tokyo having not played since the US Open, where he retired during his fourth-round contest with Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic, though, maintained his momentum with a 6-3 7-5 win over Soeda to progress to the quarter-finals.
“(He) made me work for my win today and the atmosphere was really good on the court. I enjoyed it,” Djokovic said, quoted by the ATP Tour website.
“I probably played even on a higher level than the first round. So the game is going in the right direction, that’s for sure.”
Top seed Djokovic will go on to meet Lucas Pouille in the last eight after the French fifth seed defeated Japan number two Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1 6-2.
Amercian Reilly Opelka is also through to the quarter-finals after battling to a 7-6 (4) 7-6 (2) win over France’s Gilles Simon.
Qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama came from behind to beat Radu Albot 6-7 (2) 6-3 6-4 and make sure of home representation in the last eight.
Elsewhere in Wednesday’s first-round matches, third seed David Goffin recovered to defeat Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 1-6 7-6 (8) 6-0.
Number eight seed Alex De Minaur, though, is out after the Australian was beaten 6-3 6-7 (6) 7-6 (8) by South Africa’s Lloyd George.
At the China Open, Andy Murray claimed his first back-to-back Tour singles wins since undergoing hip surgery in January with a 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 6-1 victory over fellow Briton Cameron Norrie, the match lasting almost three hours.
Murray, the two-time former Wimbledon champion, will next play top seed Dominic Thiem.
The Austrian world number five defeated Chinese wild card Zhizhen Zhang 6-3 6-3.
World number nine Karen Khachanov fought past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy to secure his quarter-final place with a 7-6 (0) 7-6 (5) victory.
Italy’s Fabio Fognini defeated Russian Andrey Rublev 6-3 6-4, saving 10 of the 12 break points he faced.
‘I have great faith in Rafael Nadal and believe he won’t disappoint in hardest comeback yet’
Rafael Nadal has been backed to deliver in his ‘hardest comeback yet’
‘Novak Djokovic can win the Golden Slam but there are reasons not to do it’, assesses top coach
Novak Djokovic’s 2024 Golden Slam prospects have been analysed.
Rafael Nadal makes honest confession as he discusses comeback expectations
Rafael Nadal has openly discussed his expectations ahead of his 2024 comeback.
Novak Djokovic facing a double threat to his status as world No 1 – but not from Jannik Sinner
Novak Djokovic will need to maintain his remarkable levels of brilliance to hang onto top spot in the rankings.
‘Carlos Alcaraz cannot achieve great results in a diesel mode like Novak Djokovic’, says former ATP star
A former world No 12 has spoken of a “diesel mode” he feels Novak Djokovic possesses.
The 10 biggest ATP Rankings rises in 2023: American star makes stunning 500-place surge
A look at the top 10 biggest movers in the 2023 ATP Rankings.
Toni Nadal makes admission about 2024 French Open belief Rafael Nadal holds
Toni Nadal has spoken about his nephew Rafael Nadal ahead of his comeback.
When will Emma Raducanu make her comeback and where will she be ranked?
Emma Raducanu has been training at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre recently, but her comeback date is unclear.
Cameron Norrie gives five reasons why Carlos Alcaraz is a better player than Jannik Sinner in feisty interview
British No 1 Cameron Norrie gave a compelling insight into the best two young players.
Novak Djokovic heads final UTR rankings of 2023 as two big names miss out on top 10 spot
While the official ATP rankings will always carry plenty of weight, the UTR rankings offers an alternative list.