Novak Djokovic handed kind Japan Open draw as he makes comeback from shoulder injury

Novak Djokovic in practice at US Open

Novak Djokovic will begin his debut Japan Open campaign against a qualifier as he looks to ease himself back into action following injury.

The world number one was forced to retire from the US Open in the last 16 with a shoulder injury, later admitting it had been causing him pain for ‘weeks,’ with him even reportedly using an oxygen chamber in New York to manage it.

Djokovic only returned to practice last week, and the draw for Tokyo has certainly been kind to him.

Marin Cilic is in half of the draw, as are fellow seeds David Goffin and Lucas Pouille, with Denis Shapovalov also a menacing presence.

Second-seed Borna Coric headlines the bottom half of the draw, and he could face recent Laver Cup star Taylor Fritz in the semi-final.

Coric must first come through a tricky match against hometown hero Taro Daniel, though and Fritz faces an intriguing opening clash against fellow-American Reilly Opelka.

Benoit Paire and Alex de Minaur are the other seeds in Coric’s half of the draw.

Japanese star Kei Nishikori is not in this year’s lineup due to an elbow injury that will also keep him out of the Shanghai Masters.

“The good news is that there is great progress,” he recently said. “It’s healing, and I am finally close to being pain free. Structurally my arm and elbow look good.

“The bad news is that we are not 100 percent there yet. There is still swelling and fluid in the arm/elbow and the doctors feel it’s in my best interest to take 3-4 more weeks off without tennis.”

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