Novak Djokovic to face qualifier John Millman in Tokyo final

Novak Djokovic to face qualifier John Millman in Tokyo final

The world No. 1 will look to complete his Japan Open debut with the trophy Sunday after advancing past David Goffin.

Novak Djokovic reached the 110th ATP final of his career—and first in Tokyo—with a 6-3, 6-4 win over David Goffin in the semifinals of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Djokovic, who’s playing the 500-level event for the first time, has a 75-34 career record in ATP finals and is 3-1 this year, having captured titles at the Australian Open, Madrid and Wimbledon.

“I’m very satisfied with the way I’ve been playing the whole week,” said the World No. 1, who hasn’t lost a set in four matches in the Japanese capital. “I hope to leave Tokyo tomorrow with the trophy.”

Djokovic had beaten Goffin in six of their seven previous meetings going into this one, including a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 rout in their last meeting in this year’s Wimbledon quarterfinals. He picked up right where he left off in London, hitting five winners in the first six minutes and racing out to a 3-0 lead. He would go up a set and a break, 6-3, 2-0, and the two held from there until it was over.

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Goffin's numbers were strong: he finished the match with more winners than unforced errors, 23 to 19, but Djokovic was stronger, finishing with a +6 differential of 24 winners to 18 unforced errors.

“I expected him to be in good form today. He played really well against Chung yesterday,” Djokovic said of Goffin. “The conditions are quick here and the ball doesn’t bounce much, so you’ve got to stay low, especially on the return - that wasn’t easy when both of us were serving well, especially in the second set. We both held quite comfortably in the second set after I broke him in the first game.”

Awaiting Djokovic in the final is Australian qualifier John Millman, who reached the biggest final of his career with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over American Reilly Opelka in the first semifinal.

Millman broke Opelka in his first service game, which turned out to be the only break of the match. He rallied from a mini-break down twice in the second set tiebreaker to defeat the 6’ 11” American.

“He’s got such a great serve and you’re not going to get too many opportunities to break him, so I’m happy I got one early on,” Millman said. “I’m happy how I returned in the tie-break. You never know when you’re going to close it out against such a big server, so I’m happy I got it done in straight sets.”

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The No. 80-ranked Australian, who saved three match points to beat American Bradley Klahn in the first round of qualifying last weekend, is now through to the second ATP final of his career. His first came at the 250-level clay-court event in Budapest last year, where he fell to Italian Marco Cecchinato.

He’s 0-2 against Djokovic, losing to him in straight sets at Queen’s Club and the US Open in 2018.

“I’m preparing myself for a really physical encounter, but that’s the type of match I like,” Millman said of Sunday’s final in his post-match press conference. “I like to engage in physical, baseline tennis. I probably feel a little bit more comfortable in that type of match than I do in a match like today.

“Novak is really tough. He’s obviously one of the greatest players ever to have played this sport. He’s racked up so many titles and so many victories, and he’s an incredibly tough player. But I’ve gone through qualies and played many matches to get here, and I’ll give it all for just one more match.”