Novak Djokovic is back in action and will be the big favorite in a weak Tokyo field.
The World No. 1 will play his first match since retiring at the US Open to Stan Wawrinka with a shoulder injury.
“I wanted to see how [my shoulder] feels during the matchplay. Obviously doubles is quite different from singles. But you’re still playing an official match, so you still feel the nerves and you battle on the court,” Djokovic said of also playing in doubles. “It’s quite different from playing a practice set or anything in practice, really.
“It seems like my shoulder is fine,” said Djokovic, who faces Aussie qualifier Alexei Popyrin in his opener. “I’m hoping that that’s going to be the case this week as well for singles.”
It’s also his first time at the Tokyo event.
“Very happy to play for the first time at a new tournament,” Djokovic said to the crowd during a practice session. “I’ve watched this tournament over the years on the TV, it’s always had the best players in the field. Hopefully this can be one of my many appearances in this tournament.”
After doubles, The Serb will test shoulder in his opener against the young Australian Alexei Popyrin.
The second seed is Borna Coric followed by David Goffin and Benoit Paire.
Djokovic is the lone Top 10 in the field. He could meet Struff in the second round, Pouille in the quarters and Goffin or Marin Cilic in the semifinals.
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