2019 Japan Open: Novak Djokovic Vs Lucas Pouille, Quarter-final, Preview and Prediction
Novak Djokovic’s reaction at the end of his Round of 16 match against home hope Go Soeda said it all as the Serb was made to work hard at Tokyo in a clash at the 2019 Japan Open.
The World No.1 Djokovic, who made his debut this year at the Japan Open is aiming for some consistency, momentum and fitness as he makes a comeback after a brief shoulder injury that forced the 16-time Grand Slam champion to retire in his 4th round clash at the US Open against Stan Wawrinka earlier this September.
After recording twin wins over Alexei Popyrin and Soeda, Djokovic finds himself in the quarter-finals at Tokyo in his debut attempt and will take on the Frenchman Lucas Pouille in a battle of last 8 at the Japanese capital.
While Djokovic scrambled in his win over Soeda, his quarter-final opponent Pouille reached the last 8 with an emphatic and majestic 6-1, 6-2 win over Yoshihito Nishioka in just 50 minutes and would draw a huge amount of confidence from his supreme victory as he prepares himself to embrace the stern Djokovic test that lies ahead of him.
On the ATP tour, Djokovic and Pouille have faced each other just twice so far and interestingly, both of those meetings have occurred in 2019. While Djokovic made a mockery of Pouille’s challenge 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in their first meeting when the duo squared off in the semi-finals of the Australian Open at the start of the season, the 25-year old Frenchman was much more competitive later in the year at Cincinnati Masters when he lost 6-7(2-7), 1-6 against the Serb.
Even though Djokovic has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and Madrid Masters 1000 so far in 2019, the Serb hasn’t been able to gather the momentum this year that he so often does when he wins the tournaments.
With Shanghai Masters, Paris Masters and Nitto ATP finals still lined up for the rest of the season, the World No.1 will not settle for anything less than a title win at Tokyo as he aims to stay clear of Rafael Nadal in an attempt of achieving the year end World No.1 ranking for the 6th time in his career.
On the contrary, Lucas Pouille would hope to push circumspect Djokovic to his limits in a bid to achieve a surprising win over the 16-time Grand slam champion. Pouille, who stunned Nadal at the US Open 2016, can bring an element of surprise to the table when he faces Djokovic in the quarter-final and the Serb can’t afford to be complacent against the talented 25-year old Frenchman.
Can Djokovic cruise to a routine win over Pouille in the quarter-final or will the 25-year old Frenchman stun the World No.1 to advance to his second semi-final in three weeks?
It would be intriguing to witness how the Djokovic-Pouille clash unfolds in the capital city of Japan.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets.