Dialled-In Djokovic Seals Tel Aviv Final Spot
Novak Djokovic maintained his perfect week at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open in style on Saturday, when the top-seeded Serbian produced a high-class semi-final showing to see off Roman Safiullin 6-1, 7-6(3) and reach his fourth tour-level final of 2022.
A near-flawless first-set performance saw Djokovic drop just three points behind serve as he stamped his authority early in his maiden ATP Head2Head meeting with the World No. 104. Safiullin raised his level in the second set, finding his range with his powerful groundstrokes to break Djokovic as the top seed served for the match at 5-4, but Djokovic showed trademark composure in the tie-break to complete his third straight-sets victory of the week in Israel in 95 minutes.
“I think it was a very competitive match, especially in the second set,” said Djokovic. “I must say I was quite emotional on the court today in the second set, there was a lot of tension, and that was also due to his aggressive style of tennis. Big serves, and when he has time, he’s so solid from the forehand and backhand corner.
“I knew that I had to stay very strong, and that he was definitely going to raise his level in the second set, which happened. I was serving for the match and played a couple of loose points, but credit to him for fighting back. It was an enjoyable evening on the court for sure.”
Djokovic’s win takes him to his first tour-level hard-court final since his triumph at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters last November. The 35-year-old will now take on second seed Marin Cilic or Constant Lestienne in Sunday’s championship match as he chases his third tour-level crown of the year.
More to follow…