Novak Djokovic said a "flawless" straight-sets demolition of Lucas Pouille was one of his best performances of the year after coasting into the semi-finals of the Japan Open.

Djokovic took just 50 minutes to beat fifth seed Pouille for the third time this season, easing to a 6-1 6-2 victory on Friday.

The world number one crushed the Frenchman in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January and it was an all-too-familiar story for Pouille in Tokyo.

Djokovic, eyeing a fourth title of the season after recovering from a shoulder injury which forced him to retire from the US Open, produced a masterclass of returning and served superbly to set up an encounter with David Goffin.

The top seed said: "It was definitely one of the best matches I've played this year. Best one of this week and came at the right time.

"I thought Lucas was playing really well the first couple of matches in this tournament. I took the time away from him."

Serbian Djokovic added on the ATP website: "I served well, served many aces, returned a lot of his serves back and just used every opportunity to come in. Just overall, a really flawless performance."

Goffin also made light work of reaching the last four, the Belgian not facing a break point as he brushed aside Hyeon Chung 6-2 6-2.

Australian qualifier John Millman moved into his first ATP 500 semi-final with a 6-4 6-0 defeat of Japan's Taro Daniel, and he will face American Reilly Opelka, a 6-3 6-3 winner over Yasutaka Uchiyama.

Novak Djokovic dominated Lucas Pouille in a one-sided quarter-final at the Japan Open Tennis Championships on Friday.

The world number one crushed Pouille 6-1 6-2 in just 50 minutes in a superb display at the ATP 500 tournament in Tokyo.

Djokovic had won his previous two meetings with the Frenchman in straight sets – including in the Australian Open semi-finals this year – and was in complete control from the outset in windy conditions.

The 16-time grand slam champion won eight of the first nine points, breaking when Pouille netted a volley in the second game.

Pouille could win only two of the first 14 points of the match, losing the opening set in just over 20 minutes.

Djokovic – playing his first tournament since retiring in the US Open fourth round due to a shoulder injury – was flawless and Pouille had no answers as the Serbian rolled out to a 4-0 lead in the second set.

After his third straight-sets win of the week, Djokovic will face either David Goffin or Hyeon Chung in the semi-finals.

Novak Djokovic said there were "not too many negatives" from a second-round victory over Go Soeda in the Japan Open on Wednesday.

The world number one, playing in his first tournament since retiring from the US Open with a shoulder injury, moved into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 7-5 defeat of wildcard Soeda.

Veteran outsider Soeda put up a fight in his homeland, but Djokovic broke four times and won 81 per cent of points behind his first serve to set up an encounter with Lucas Pouille in Tokyo.

Djokovic was broken when serving for the match with a 5-3 lead and Soeda saved three match points before being consigned to defeat.

The top seed said: "I think I played a pretty good tennis match. From the baseline, I was solid, aggressive when I needed to be and taking the ball early.

"I served very well until that game when I was serving for the match at 5-3. I made some double faults, I missed all my first serves, so I didn't serve that well that game, allowing him to break back and come back to the match,

"But there were not too many negatives today, because I had chances constantly. I had match points at 5-4, but he just came up with some very good shots and fought hard and that's why we give him credit. But from my side, I'm really pleased."

Pouille eased to a 6-1 6-2 victory over another Japanese contender in the form of Yoshihito Nishioka.

Reilly Opelka saw the back of Gilles Simon 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-2), while Yasutaka Uchiyama also progressed to the last eight in his homeland. 

David Goffin, John Millman and Lloyd Harris were first-round winners on day three.

Novak Djokovic was pleased to report his shoulder was feeling fine as he returned to action with a win at the Japan Open on Tuesday.

World number one Djokovic had not played since retiring against Stan Wawrinka in the last 16 at the US Open last month, with his Flushing Meadows title defence ended by pain in his shoulder.

But the Serbian was back on the court in Tokyo this week and eased past qualifier Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-2 in the first round.

"The shoulder is good. I have not felt anything in the previous days, including today in the match," said Djokovic, who faces veteran home favourite Go Soeda next.

"So I am very pleased to say that and to feel healthy."

He added: "I thought from really the beginning to the end, I played really well and on a consistent, high level and good intensity."

But while Djokovic was comfortable, he was the only seed to progress at the ATP 500 tournament on Tuesday.

Japanese stars Taro Daniel and Yasutaka Uchiyama upset Borna Coric and 2015 finalist Benoit Paire respectively, while American Taylor Fritz lost to compatriot Reilly Opelka.

Daniel clinched a dramatic win over Coric in a final-set tie-break and said: "I knew the opponent was going to be more nervous than me. Obviously he's like, 'I have to win, he's a wild card'.

"I was just like, 'Keep going, try to not be passive, not be too aggressive, but just try and find that balance, not make any mistakes'. He ended up making more mistakes than I did."

Gilles Simon advanced to set up a clash with Opelka, while Radu Albot also went through and will play Uchiyama next.

Denis Shapovalov defeated Miomir Kecmanovic, as Jordan Thompson saw off Juan Ignacio Londero.

Novak Djokovic won on his first outing since the US Open as he cruised past Alexei Popyrin in straight sets in Tokyo.

The world number one had to retire from his fourth-round clash against Stan Wawrinka in New York due to a shoulder injury but encountered few problems as he launched his Japan Open campaign with a 6-4 6-2 triumph.

Djokovic took the fifth break point on offer in the ninth game of the first set before closing out the opener.

Popyrin was never allowed a look at breaking the Djokovic serve and found himself increasingly over-matched as he subsided in an hour and 25 minutes.

Djokovic, 32, will face veteran Japanese wildcard Go Soeda in round two.

Novak Djokovic believes he has a "good chance" of playing at the Japan Open Tennis Championships after recovering from a shoulder injury.

The world number one retired from his fourth-round clash against Stan Wawrinka at the US Open at the start of the month due to the injury.

But Djokovic has returned to training and believes he will be fit to take his place at the ATP 500 tournament in Tokyo starting on Monday.

"Yesterday I trained for the first time after America and there was no shoulder pain which is an encouraging circumstance," the Serbian told Sportski zurnal on Tuesday.

"For now it seems like I have a good chance of playing Tokyo. That's my intention. The next two days will be crucial to assessing shoulder recovery."

Djokovic has points to defend in Asia after winning the Shanghai Masters last year.

The 16-time grand slam champion said he would "almost certainly" play in Shanghai if he missed Tokyo.

"Tokyo and Shanghai first. My team and I believe that in the past two to three weeks we have put the shoulder in the position of being able to withstand multiple tournaments in a row," Djokovic said.

"Tokyo and Shanghai are both goals and purposes but everything is still in God's hands, the whole scenario.

"I don't know what it will be but everything is working great for now."

Novak Djokovic remains unsure when he will return from a shoulder injury, but the world number one is eyeing a comeback in Tokyo.

Djokovic retired during a last-16 clash against Stan Wawrinka at the US Open at the start of the month and reports suggested he may need surgery.

The Serbian star is still uncertain as to when he will return, but said he would ideally play at the Japan Open Tennis Championships, an ATP 500 tournament that starts on September 30, as scheduled.

"I would like to tell you when I will be back, but I really do not know exactly. I monitor the results of rehabilitation every day. I monitor how the shoulder responds to recovery," Djokovic told RTS on Monday.

"Unfortunately, the injury was of a more serious nature. It prevented me from continuing the tournament in New York. I'm very sorry.

"It's one of the four biggest tournaments, especially important in the second part of the season."

Djokovic added: "I hope to be on the court in a week or two. For now, in an ideal scenario, the plan is to play Tokyo."

The 32-year-old said he expected to have greater clarity over his return in the next week.

Djokovic has enjoyed another fine season, winning two grand slam titles to take his tally to 16, trailing only Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).

Former world number one Andy Murray said he would love to play Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer before they retire, but only if he is capable of beating the 'Big Three'.

Murray looked set to retire following January's Australian Open, however, the three-time grand slam champion is on the comeback trail after hip resurfacing surgery.

The 32-year-old – who dropped down to ATP Challenger level to take part in the Rafael Nadal Open having skipped the US Open – is set to feature at the Shanghai Masters after accepting a wildcard.

Murray will spend a couple of weeks in the Far East, competing in the Zhuhai Championships and China Open as he eyes next year's Australian Open following a brief ATP Tour singles return in August.

Asked about renewing his battle with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, Murray – who has played doubles this year to build his fitness – said: "I look forward to doing it if, physically, I am capable of competing with them.

"I don't look forward to going on the court against one of those guys and not feeling like I have a chance of winning which, if I played them tomorrow, that's how I would feel.

"When I practised with Novak in Australia at the beginning of this year, I found that hard, even though it was just practice. I felt terrible and I found that quite hard.

"If I'm able to compete against them and feel like I can win, even if it's a really small chance, then I will enjoy that, for sure. But, not feeling like I can be competitive and getting pumped, I probably wouldn't enjoy that."

Murray – now ranked 415 in the world – added: "I need matches just now. My body needs to build up some level of robustness. That's the reason for entering the [four straight] tournaments.

"And if I'm not getting matches [because of early defeats in each event] I'm at least around, practising with top players, getting my body more used to the speed and things."

It has been a long road back to the top of men's tennis for Novak Djokovic, which will have made another betrayal by his body sting all the more on Sunday.

What may be even more painful for the world number one, however, is the realisation he could be about to lose ground in the race for his ultimate goal: the all-time record for men's grand slam singles titles.

Djokovic has made no secret of his desire to beat Roger Federer's leading tally, which stands at 20. However, his retirement due to a left shoulder injury after being thoroughly dismantled by Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round of the US Open has made that challenge even harder.

Through his struggles with an elbow problem, Djokovic saw eight slams go by without him lifting any of them, with six shared between Federer and Nadal.

That set him back significantly in his quest to take Federer's crown as the greatest of all time, and he will know his withdrawal makes it highly likely the Swiss star or Nadal will be collecting the US Open trophy come the end of the second week of proceedings at Flushing Meadows.

Federer and Nadal will be the heavy favourites to contest the final, with the former having the chance to move onto 21 and Nadal the opportunity to pull to within one of him on 19.

Djokovic does not believe this latest setback to be a long-term issue - he plans to play in Tokyo in four weeks' time - and was defiant when asked in his post-match media conference about his dream of catching Federer and Nadal.

"It's a long road ahead hopefully for me," Djokovic said. "I hope I can play for many more years. I'm planning to. I mean, I don't see an end behind the corner at all.

"Now it's a matter of keeping my body and mind in shape and trying to still peak at these kind of events that are majors and that are the most significant in our sport."

However, keeping his body in shape has proven easier said than done for Djokovic. This was his sixth retirement at a slam, albeit his first at the US Open, and at 32 it is easy to question just how long he will be able to remain at the highest level given that record of durability problems in majors.

Barring a breakthrough for Daniil Medvedev or perhaps a continuation of the Wawrinka resurgence in New York this week, Djokovic's task of claiming the slam record will be a more difficult one going into the 2020 season.

Having seen the career of Andy Murray – who is just seven days younger than Djokovic – completely derailed by injury, the Serbian should have an understanding that his time as one of the best in the world can be brought to an end at any moment.

By contrast, he will also be encouraged by the manner in which the now 38-year-old Federer has been able to extend his time as a grand slam champion well beyond the expected twilight of his career.

Federer, though, has been able to achieve that by reducing his playing schedule. The 2019 season was the first in which Federer has played the French Open since 2015 and he has only featured in 10 tournaments all year. 

Djokovic's insistence that he plans to play in Tokyo despite saying he has been in "constant pain" for weeks indicates he believes he can continue to have a very busy schedule and compete in grand slams.

His body is telling him otherwise.

The 16-time major winner is not one for giving up, which is what made his retirement against Wawrinka all the more surprising.

However, unless he accepts shifting to a lighter schedule is the best policy as he moves into his mid-30s, Djokovic may have to resign himself to the prospect of his moving to the top of the major pile never coming to pass.

Stan Wawrinka could see Novak Djokovic was struggling with his shoulder but was still surprised the world number one retired from their fourth-round match at the US Open.

Wawrinka produced a superb performance at Arthur Ashe Stadium, taking the first two sets 6-4 7-5 and leading 2-1 in the third before Djokovic succumbed to his shoulder problem on Sunday.

Djokovic double-faulted to gift Wawrinka a break early in the third set, before which the Serb had received treatment on the shoulder that hindered him in a second-round clash with Juan Ignacio Londero.

That prompted defending champion Djokovic to concede the match, giving Wawrinka a place in the quarter-finals, where he will face Daniil Medvedev.

Asked if he could sense something wrong with Djokovic in a rematch of the 2016 final won by the Swiss, Wawrinka told a media conference: "For me, my sense, I was feeling good on the court. I was playing well.

"The more the match was going, better I was playing, I was hitting really hard the ball. I was feeling great on the court. That's the most important.

"For sure I could see some little thing that he was in trouble. But I was most likely, most of the time, focused on myself because I know how well he can fight.

"I know how well he can come back. Doesn't matter how he's feeling on the court, and that's what I was focusing on."

"Yeah, it was," Wawrinka said when asked if the retirement was a shock. "It's always a surprise, for sure, when you play a champion like him.

"You always expect to play against the best of Novak. I saw he wasn't feeling great, but again, it was a surprise, for sure."

Djokovic was booed by large sections of the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd as he left the court, a turn of events that also had Wawrinka taken aback in New York.

"[I'm] always surprised when you play the number one and you hear the fans booing him when he had to retire, that's for sure," he added.

"He's a good friend. I know him really well. He's [an] amazing champion, and if he has to retire, it's not the best for a tennis player to have to leave the court like that."

Wawrinka will likely have the crowd on his side against Medvedev, who has revelled in boos during his last two matches after being seen to direct a middle-finger gesture to the crowd in his third-round meeting with Feliciano Lopez.

Three-time grand slam champion Wawrinka understands how Medvedev can feed off negative energy, saying: "For sure I understand how you can get from any atmosphere. That's why you play.

"I understand the enjoyment of that, not only in positive but also in negative. You always look for something, and that's going to be interesting."

Novak Djokovic revealed he had been in constant pain for weeks after he retired from his US Open fourth-round match with Stan Wawrinka due to a shoulder injury.

Djokovic received massages on his shoulder at several junctures during his second-round meeting with Juan Ignacio Londero at Flushing Meadows.

However, the world number one appeared in much-improved condition in a third-round win over Denis Kudla on Friday, only for the issue to resurface as Wawrinka dictated Sunday's last-16 clash.

Wawrinka claimed the first two sets 6-4 7-5, with Djokovic receiving treatment prior to the third before conceding defeat following a double-fault that gave the Swiss another break of serve for a 2-1 lead.

After his title defence came to an end, Djokovic told a media conference: "The pain was constant for weeks now. Some days higher; some days with less intensity and obviously taking different stuff to kill the pain instantly. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.

"[It's] very frustrating. Obviously not the first, not the last player to get injured and to, you know, withdraw from one of the biggest events in sport.

"But obviously I just came off the court, so of course it hurts."

Djokovic was booed off by large sections of the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd upon leaving the court but refused to blame them for doing so.

"Look, I'm not being offended by, you know, [being] mistreated by anybody," he added. "I don't really pay too much attention on that.

"I like to respect others. I hope that others can respect me and my decision.

"I'm sorry for the crowd. Obviously they came to see a full match, and just wasn't to be. That's all it is.

"A lot of people didn't know what's happening, so you cannot blame them. It is what it is."

Novak Djokovic bowed out of the US Open against Stan Wawrinka, while Roger Federer cruised into the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Wawrinka looked in fine form and was two-sets-to-love up when Djokovic, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury, retired on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The world number one and defending champion's exit has opened up the top half of the draw, although Federer is starting to find some better form in New York.

 

DJOKOVIC DEPARTS AMID SHOULDER STRUGGLES

Wawrinka was leading Djokovic 6-4 7-5 2-1 when the Serbian retired, having earlier again received treatment on his left shoulder.

In a rematch of the 2016 final, Wawrinka – then the champion in four sets – looked in good form as he took control of the fourth-round clash.

The Swiss three-time grand slam champion has struggled with injuries in recent years, but seems to be getting close to his best form again.

The quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows add to his run to the last eight at the French Open.

 

FEDERER IN A RUSH

Federer, the five-time champion, needed just 79 minutes to thrash Belgian 15th seed David Goffin 6-2 6-2 6-0.

The 20-time major champion mixed 35 winners with 17 unforced errors in a ruthless victory.

Federer dropped the opening set in the first two rounds, but has now lost just nine games in his past two wins.

MEDVEDEV RUN CONTINUES, DIMITROV RESURGENT

Next up for Wawrinka is Daniil Medvedev, who continued his run with a 3-6 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-2) win over qualifier Dominik Koepfer.

No player has more wins than the Russian on the ATP Tour this year and Medvedev is still embracing his villain status with the crowd in New York.

His win saw him move into the quarter-finals at a grand slam for the first time, with a tough clash against Wawrinka awaiting him.

Grigor Dimitrov moved into his first US Open quarter-final by beating Alex de Minaur 7-5 6-3 6-4.

The Bulgarian has reached the last eight at majors four times previously, but his clash against Federer will be his first grand slam quarter-final since the 2018 Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic is out of the US Open after retiring from his fourth-round match with Stan Wawrinka.

The Serbian battled a shoulder injury in his second-round win over Juan Ignacio Londero but appeared to suggest his condition had improved after a third-round defeat of Denis Kudla.

However, the world number one was second best throughout against the 2016 champion and called it quits after he dropped his serve to give Wawrinka a 6-4 7-5 2-1 lead in the third.

Wawrinka, who is in pursuit of his fourth major title, will play Daniil Medvedev for a place in the semi-finals.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer remain on a collision course to meet in the US Open semi-finals after they each claimed straight-sets wins to reach the last 16.

Djokovic declared himself "almost pain-free" after coming through a decent test from Denis Kudla and sealing a meeting with Stan Wawrinka, the defending champion having faced questions about his troublesome left shoulder going into his 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory.

Federer has had no such fitness issues and breezed through against Daniel Evans, though the Swiss was forced to respond to suggestions he had influenced the decision to have him play first on Arthur Ashe against the Briton, who had come through a four-set encounter on Thursday.

Next for Federer is David Goffin after the Belgian overcame Pablo Carreno Busta in three sets.

Daniil Medvedev provided late drama in the last match on Louis Armstrong, with his victory over Feliciano Lopez booed by fans after he was seen to aim a middle finger at them.

 

MEDVEDEV WINS DESPITE MELTDOWN

World number five Medvedev needed three hours and 19 minutes to see off Lopez 7-6 (7-1) 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4, the Russian progressing despite a first-set meltdown.

Medvedev lost all support from the crowd after he was seen to direct an insulting gesture at them, this after he had been assessed a code violation for snatching a towel from a ball boy, which he reacted to by tossing a racquet in the direction of the umpire's chair.

The Russian revelled in the boos that came after he clinched victory, seemingly enjoying playing the role of villain, telling the crowd their energy will be "enough for the next five matches".

He later described his actions as "heat of the moment" and expressed hope he will deal with such situations better next time. Whether he will have the crowd on side in his match with qualifier Dominik Koepfer, who is set to break into the top 100 after beating 17th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in four sets, is debatable at best.

WAWRINKA EXPECTS TO BRING HIS BEST

Wawrinka has beaten Djokovic twice in grand slam finals, at the French Open and in New York, and anticipates producing his best tennis against the world number one in round four.

The Swiss saw off Paolo Lorenzi in three sets, a day after the Italian completed a second-round match that lasted nearly five hours.

Speaking in a media conference, Wawrinka said of his meeting with Djokovic: "There's something with him that when I get into my best game, I know that it's going to have some big rally, I'm going to play good tennis."

DEMON DE MINAUR SET FOR DIMITROV DUEL

Alex de Minaur claimed his first top-10 win as he shocked seventh seed Kei Nishikori 6-2 6-4 2-6 6-3. 

The Australian was afterwards asked if he had a nickname he likes and replied: "Demon. That's something that's sort of caught on in Australia. And, yeah, I don't mind it.

"I like to think it's got something to do with sort of my fiery attitude on court. Just, you know, I get pretty fired up and pumped up. I'd like to think it's something to do with that."

Grigor Dimitrov will be the next man faced with De Minaur's fire, after the Bulgarian saw off Kamil Majchrzak in three sets.

Novak Djokovic indicated a spectator he was seen arguing with during a practice session helped motivate him for his US Open third-round victory over Denis Kudla.

Djokovic brushed off concerns over his left shoulder, on which he required treatment in his second-round match against Juan Ignacio Londero, to claim a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory in Arthur Ashe Stadium and book a meeting with Stan Wawrinka.

The world number one and defending champion delayed his practice by two hours ahead of the contest, and that session was marked by a confrontation with a fan in which the Serbian appeared to say "I'll come find you".

Noticeably fired up during the match, Djokovic also took issue with members of the crowd who cheered a double fault, firing back at them after he saved a break point.

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Djokovic was reticent to give too much away about the practice incident, which he initially described as "just a little chat".

Asked about the "come find you" remarks, Djokovic replied: "To have a drink. I liked the guy. I'm going to buy him a drink."

Pressed on what was said to him, he added: "We'll keep it between us. But he definitely helped me. He doesn't even know, but he did help me.

"As I said, I'm not going to talk about it. I think he did me a favour. Even maybe he didn't want to do me a favour, he did me a favour, big favour."

Djokovic conceded to being fired up by the behaviour of some of the crowd during the match, saying: "Night sessions, New York, crowd gets into it. A couple guys that had a couple of drinks more than I guess they were supposed to. But it was all good after."

Despite declaring himself "almost pain free", Djokovic was reluctant to give details on what treatments he has had since the Londero match.

"As I said, I would appreciate if you respect me not talking about it in details," he responded when asked if he had been given a pain-killing injection.

"I mean, I understand you guys want to know. I made a decision not to get into details, not to speak about it. Please understand me.

"I'm very glad with the way it went. I am able to play. That for me is a huge blessing today because it was probably the complete opposite two days ago.

"I did not practice yesterday, that's true. I did a lot of things in the last few days to be able to play."

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