Djokovic sets up final clash with Millman; Osaka ousts Wozniacki - GulfToday

Djokovic sets up final clash with Millman; Osaka ousts Wozniacki


Novak Djokovic hits a return shot against David Goffin during their Japan Open semi-final match. Agence France-Presse

World number one Novak Djokovic on Saturday cruised into the Japan Open final, thrashing David Goffin 6-3, 6-4. In the final, Djokovic will face Australian qualifier John Millman, who squeezed past American opponent Reilly Opelka 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

The Serbian star dominated his semi-final, starting strong by winning the first three games, picking up an early break while fending off fierce attempts by the Belgian to fight back.

Djokovic again picked up an early break in the second set, and survived all the four break points through the match.

“I think we both served extremely well and precise, not too much chance for returners,” he said in a press conference. “Even though it was a two-set win, the quality of tennis was quite high.” Djokovic won points on 87 percent of his successful first serves and never committed a double fault in the roughly 90-minute contest.

Goffin fought bravely, but Djokovic kept up the pressure with deep shots and quick footwork to fend off any threat.

“I trained with ninjas before this tournament,” Djokovic quipped, when asked about his apparent omnipresence on the court, during a post-match interview in front of cheering Japanese fans.

In the final, he will face the 80th-ranked Millman, who is making his first career appearance in the final of an ATP 500 event.

Millman predicted “a lot of baseline exchanges” with “one of the greatest players” of all time.

Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka will face world number one Ashleigh Barty in Sunday’s final of the China Open after powering to a convincing win over title-holder Caroline Wozniacki.

The Australian Open winner threw off some initial frustrations to emphatically end Wozniacki’s reign in Beijing with a 6-4, 6-2 victory in 84 minutes.

The 21-year-old Japanese, who on Friday ended Bianca Andreescu’s run of 17 wins in a row, took time to settle against Denmark’s Wozniacki.

World number four Osaka showed flashes of irritation as she let Wozniacki off the hook at 3-3 in the first set, tossing her racquet on the floor.

But in the ninth game, the pressure on the 19th-ranked Wozniacki told, Osaka grabbing the all-important break of service with an arrowing forehand.

Top seed Dominic Thiem fought back from a set down to reach the final of the China Open on Saturday -- and also book his place at the season-ending ATP Finals.