World no. 1 Novak Djokovic is through to the quarter-final on Tokyo debut, beating Go Soeda 6-3, 7-5 in an hour and 34 minutes. Playing at home event for the 13th time, the veteran managed to score the first victory and set the clash against the best player in the world where he gave his best to stay competitive in set number two, coming back from 5-3 down and repelling three match points before Novak sealed the deal with a strong finish.
Competing for the first time since that shoulder injury at the US Open, Djokovic played on a decent level just like in the first match, hitting ten aces and dropping 14 points in ten service games, erasing three out of four break chances offered to Soeda and taking 47% of the return points to score four breaks from 12 opportunities.
Novak had 25 winners and 18 unforced errors while Go delivered 22 winners and 24 mistakes, pretty decent numbers considering his ranking and the rival on the other side of the net. The Japanese held at 15 in the first game and created three chances for a break in the next game that Novak repelled with three winners, gaining momentum and breaking Soeda on the fifth opportunity in game three with a backhand down the line winner.
The Serb hit another backhand winner in game nine to earn a break at love and grab the opener 6-3 after 41 minutes. They stayed neck and neck in the first seven games of the second set before Novak broke with a deep return that pushed him 5-3 in front, serving for the victory in the next game.
Out of sudden, Soeda broke back at 15 to prolong the set, saving three match points in the next game to level the score at 5-5. With no more rooms for errors, Djokovic grabbed the last eight points to seal the deal and advance into the last eight where he will face Yoshihito Nishioka or Lucas Pouille.