October 1, 2019 / 1:16 PM / 15 days ago

Djokovic cruises into second round in Tokyo

FILE PHOTO: Sep 1, 2019; Flushing, NY, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits to Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland in the fourth round on day seven of the 2019 US Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

(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

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