(Reuters) – Former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic mowed down local favorite Yuichi Sugita 6-4 6-4 on Monday to reach the second round of the Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
The 31-year-old, beaten in the first round last year, made no mistakes this time winning 88% of points on his booming first serve and saved the only break point he faced in the 74-minute contest to advance.
Up next for the Croat, who has slipped to 30th in the world rankings as he chases his first title this year, will be the winner of the clash between Chung Hyeon and Italian Lorenzo Sonego.
Fifth-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille made short work of Hubert Hurkacz winning 6-4 6-3 to book a spot in the next round where he will face Yoshihito Nishioka, who defeated Joao Sousa 7-5 6-3.
Wildcard Go Soeda set up a potential second round meeting with top seed Novak Djokovic by getting past Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6 7-6(4) 6-3.
World number one Djokovic, beaten in the doubles competition partnering fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic on Monday, begins his singles campaign against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin.
David Goffin, the lone former champion in the draw, takes on Pablo Carreno Busta in the first round.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)