Novak Djokovic reacts to making final at inaugural Tel Aviv Open

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Novak Djokovic reacts to making final at inaugural Tel Aviv Open

First-seeded Novak Djokovic admitted that 104th-ranked Roman Safiullin definitely wasn't an easy opponent and gave credit to the Russian for fighting until the last point during their Tel Aviv Open semifinal match. On Saturday, Djokovic defeated Safiullin 6-1 7-6 (3) to progress into the final at the inaugural Tel Aviv Open.

“I think it was a very competitive match, especially in the second set,” Djokovic said after his win. “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”.

How Djokovic beat Safiullin

Djokovic got off to a perfect start to the match, claiming back-to-back breaks and winning the first five games of the match. In the sixth game, Safiullin served out his game and finally got on the board to cut the deficit to 5-1.

However, it didn't change much as Djokovic routinely served out for the first set in the seventh game. After losing the first set, Safiullin had his first break points of the match in the sixth game of the second set, but didn't convert.

Then in the ninth game, Djokovic earned the first break of the set to open a 5-4 lead and to give himself a chance to serve out for the match. Just when it seemed the match was over, Safiullin broke back Djokovic and managed to force a tie-break.

Failing to serve out for the match didn't impact Djokovic, who opened an early 4-1 lead in the tie-break before realizing his second match point to complete a two-set win. Djokovic plays in the Tel Aviv final the winner of the match between Marin Cilic and Constant Lestienne.