Novak Djokovic completes dream debut in Tokyo with 76th career title

Novak Djokovic completes dream debut in Tokyo with 76th career title

The top-seeded Serbian did not drop a set all week, and he was never even pushed to a tiebreak.

Novak Djokovic completed a dream debut at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships on Sunday, beating John Millman, 6-3, 6-2, for his fourth ATP title of the year and the 76th of his career.

The World No. 1 didn’t drop a set all week—he was never even pushed to a tie-break.

“It was a fantastic week in every sense,” Djokovic said. “I felt great on the court, and I felt really welcomed by the Japanese people off the court as well. They really made me feel at home. I didn’t drop a set, I served well and felt great - it was just a great overall experience here in Tokyo.

“For me, this was a level higher than the last couple of months. Hopefully I can maintain that.”

Though Millman stayed toe-to-toe with Djokovic from the baseline throughout Sunday’s final, the Serb opened up early leads in both sets that the Australian just couldn’t recover from. He won 12 of 14 points from 1-all in the first set to build a 4-1 lead, and he won five games in a row at one point to go from 5-3 in the first set to a 6-3, 4-0 lead. He eventually served it out after 69 minutes on court.

“John had a great tournament,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview after the match. “Considering he was close to losing in the first round of qualies, to get this far, I think he’ll take it. He really deserved to be in the final. And he started off really solid today. It was a tough battle in the first set.

“But in the second set I stepped it up and really started swinging through the ball more.”


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Djokovic finished the match with three more unforced errors than Millman, 19 to 16, but more than twice as many winners, 23 to 11 - he also didn’t face a single break point in nine service games.

This is the 10th time Djokovic has won the title in his first appearance at an ATP tournament, and just the third time he’s done it without losing a set, after Amersfoort in 2006 and Eastbourne in 2017.

It was already an historic week for Djokovic, who was spending his 271st career week at No. 1, passing Ivan Lendl for third-most weeks at No. 1 in ATP history. He now only trails longtime rival Roger Federer, who’s had 310 weeks at No. 1, and childhood idol Pete Sampras, who had 286.

The Serb will now take his winning streak from Tokyo to Shanghai, where he’s a four-time champion in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018. He’s never lost before the semifinals in eight previous trips to the Masters 1000 event. After a first round bye, he’ll open against Denis Shapovalov or Frances Tiafoe.

And despite Sunday’s loss, it was still one of the best weeks of Millman’s career. Having fought off three match points against American Bradley Klahn in the first round of qualifying, the Australian made it all the way to the biggest final of his career at the 500-level event, and he’s now projected to rise from No. 80 to No. 58 on the ATP rankings. He’s been as high as No. 33 in the world previously.