Novak Djokovic made amends for his doubles exit at the Japan Open by progressing to the second round of the singles on Tuesday.
The top-ranked Serb – attempting to win a title on his tournament debut for the 10th time – beat Australian Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-2 and next faces local wildcard entry Go Soeda.
Holding to love in four of his nine service games, Djokovic did not give any break-point opportunities to 94th ranked Popyrin in the match.
Popyrin held solid until the ninth game of the first set where he was broken for the first time.
It was downhill from there for the former French Open junior champion, however, Popyrin winning only two more games in the match.
Djokovic, alongside Filip Krajinovic, had been knocked out of the doubles by the fourth-seeded Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares on Monday. That was Djokovic’s first competitive match since retiring during his fourth-round clash with Stan Wawrinka at the US Open.
“My shoulder is good, I didn’t feel any pain in today’s match,” Djokovic said of his injury.
“I thought from beginning to end that I played very well, very consistent, high level, good intensity, and plenty of chances on his serve. I was able to step it up in the second set and finished the match well.”
Japanese wildcard Taro Daniel caused the biggest upset of the day by beating second-seeded Borna Coric 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-5) after a grueling 2 hours, 39 minutes in 30-degree heat on the Colosseum show court.
Lying in wait for Daniel is Jordan Thompson after the Australian got the better of Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Daniel’s victory means four of the five Japanese in the main draw made it through to the second round, as qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama needed only 54 minutes to dismantle fourth-seeded Benoit Paire 6-2 6-2. He next meets Radu Albot, who beat Krajinovic 6-3 7-5.
Soeda and Yoshihito Nishioka complete the home quartet in the last 16.
Reilly Opelka won an all-American duel with seventh-seeded Taylor Fritz, 6-3 6-4, to set up a second-round match against Frenchman Gilles Simon, who beat Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-0.
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov won the last match of the evening, 6-4 6-4 against Miomir Kecmanovic. His next opponent is to be determined, with three first-round matches on Wednesday.