TEL AVIV/STARNBERG, October 1, 2022
Novak Djokovic will play for the singles title of the inaugural Tel Aviv Watergen Open. The top seed of the ATP 250 hard-court event defeated Roman Safiullin of Russia 6-1, 7-6(3) on Saturday afternoon.
In the pair’s first meeting, Djokovic withstood eight aces and broke his rival’s serve three times to prevail after one hour and 34 minutes.
Through in style 🕺
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) October 1, 2022
“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 Serbian will now take on Marin Cilic of Croatia, who defeated Frenchman Constant Lestienne 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 46 minutes.
Djokovic, who has reached at least one tour-level championship match in 21 different countries, and Cilic will meet for the 21st time. The World No. 7 and 21-time Grand-Slam winner leads their head-to-head record 18-2.