Novak Djokovic solidified his perfect week at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open on Saturday, beating Roman Safiullin 6-1, 7-6(3) in his semi-final matchup to reach his fourth final of the season. Djokovic dropped just three points on serve in a flawless first set, in which he asserted his authority in the opening matchup of the ATP Head2Head record against the World No.
104. Safiullin raised the bar in the second set, showing why he had come this far in Tel Aviv, this time pushing the Serb to a tie break. But the Balkan decided in the most important moments to chain his third victory in two sets of the week in 95 minutes.
"I think it was a very close match, especially in the second set," Djokovic said. “I must say that it was quite emotional on court today in the second set, there was a lot of tension, and that was also due to his aggressive style of tennis.
Great serves, and when he was in his moment, he was very solid from the forehand and backhand. I knew that I had to stay strong, and that he was going to raise his level in the second set, as it happened. I served for the match and played a couple of bad points, but credit to him for fighting.
It was a nice afternoon on the track”, added the Serb. Djokovic's win gives him the chance to play in his first indoor hard court final since last November, when he did so at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters. The top seed in Tel Aviv awaits second seed Marin Cilic in the last round.
The Croatian won 7-5, 6-3 against Frenchman Constant Lestienne, No. 68 in the world and who led 5-2 in the first set.
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Novak Djokovic is known for his extraordinary mental strength, something that has helped establish him as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
"I think it has a lot to do with the environment I grew up in. As I have told before, I grew up in the 90's in Serbia, with wars, sanctions and difficult times to live. My parents suffered a lot just to be able to eat.
I have been lucky to belong to this sport, which is not cheap. I fell in love with tennis and my parents helped me, even though it was extremely difficult for them," Djokovic was quoted as saying by Punto de Break. "It comes from appreciating life and these kinds of circumstances, knowing what it feels like to have nothing and then have so much in life.
That gives you perspective to respect everything that comes with a more positive and humble attitude. It's not always something that helps me, but it makes it prevail when I use it," he added.