Novak Djokovic couldn’t have asked for a better tournament debut in Tokyo. Playing in the Japanese capital for the first time, Djokovic beat Australian qualifier John Millman 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Japan Open on Sunday, marking the 10th time the Serbian has lifted a trophy on his main draw debut at a tour-level event.
The top-ranked Serb did not drop a set in his five matches at Ariake Colosseum with the closest set, 7-5, coming against home favorite Go Soeda in the second round. In his final three matches, against fifth-seeded Lucas Pouille, third-seeded David Goffin and Millman all of whom have made a Grand Slam quarterfinal Djokovic lost a total of 15 games.
“I didn’t drop a set all week so I played fantastic tennis,” said Djokovic who will next play in Shanghai. “There are not many negatives here that I can point out so I’m going to Shanghai with great confidence and hope I can finish the year in style.”
Sunday’s final followed a familiar pattern to his previous matches here with Djokovic breaking Millman to go up 3-1 in the first set with a perfectly placed forehand volley to the corner.
“Obviously the key was to try to fight off the resistance early in the match because he didn’t have much to lose playing finals from qualifications,” Djokovic said. “He came out and played pretty well but I made that crucial break and I was serving very well which allowed me to get a set advantage.”
The second set was even more dominant as Djokovic broke his opponent twice to go up 3-0 then held serve the rest of the way.
Djokovic lost only four first-serve points and hit six aces.
Djokovic retired with a left-shoulder injury during his fourth-round match against Stan Wawrinka at the U.S. Open but has shown no lingering effects in Tokyo.
“I didn’t know until one week before the start of this tournament that I would be here,” Djokovic said. “That’s when I made a decision with my team that I was ready to play.”
The 32-year-old Serb is making a push to finish as year-end No. 1 for the sixth time, which would tie the mark held by Pete Sampras.
Djokovic now stands alone in third place on the ATP Tour this year with 46 tour-level wins, breaking a tie with Roger Federer. The only players ahead of him are Daniil Medvedev (54) and Rafael Nadal (48).