Top seed Novak Djokovic battled into the final of the Tel Aviv Open with a straight-sets win over Roman Safiullin on Saturday.
The Serbian, who is competing in his first individual ATP tournament since winning Wimbledon in July, claimed a 6-1 7-6(3) victory over the world No. 104.
He will meet Marin Cilic for the crown on Sunday after the veteran defeated Constant Lestienne in the other semi-final.
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“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.”
Djokovic was unable to compete at the US Open in September due to his vaccination status, and his only competitive appearance since Wimbledon was for Team Europe in the Laver Cup last week, when he beat Francis Tiafoe but lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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The 35-year-old, who is aiming to win his third tour-level title of 2022, got off to a perfect start as he blew away Safiullin in the first set, dropping just three points on serve and losing one game.
But the Russian improved in the second and managed to break Djokovic when the world No. 7 was serving for the match at 5-4.
However, the 21-time Grand Slam champion triumphed in the tie-break to win the match in 95 minutes and take a big step towards landing the 89th tour-level title of his career.
“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,” Djokovic added.
“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.”
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24/11/2022 AT 11:09