After 81 days away from the major circuit -with only a fleeting participation in the Laver Cup on the occasion of Roger Federer's moving farewell to tennis-, Novak Djokovic returned to Tel Aviv (where he had obviously never played) and won the 250 security points heading into the Finals on the eve of the last '500' and the last '1000' of the season.
It will be enough for the Serbian to stay between ninth and twentieth in the race to secure a place in the final in Turin. A task that, given his non-participation in the Australian Open and the Us Open - including a quarter-final loss at Roland Garros, beaten by Nadal in the quarter-finals - could have been more complicated than expected.
Especially considering the non-allocation of points at Wimbledon. In short: after a decidedly positive week, the Serbian phenomenon also puts the name of Marin Cilic on the notepad. In fact, he saved most of his energy (physical and mental) from him for the biggest match of all after his struggles with Vasek Pospisil and Roman Safiullin, at least in the second set.
Djokovic took control of the situation from the start and flirted several times with a double break in the middle of the first set. Similar situation in the second set, with Cilic needing extra time to hold on to the set and avoid the final 1-4 in the second set.
However, the Croatian could do little, he limited himself to defending his breaks and only became dangerous on one occasion. Only at 2-3. Djokovic, called to serve for the match, plays an extraordinary match and closes 6-3 and 6-4 after just over an hour and a half of play.
Djokovic won in Tel Aviv
In Israel where he won his 89th singles title, Novak Djokovic should also have teamed up with local Jonathan Erlich, the only player with whom he won a doubles title during his career (at Queen's, in 2010).
Erlich was due to play the last tournament of his career with the Serbian legend at the age of 45, but he had to withdraw due to physical problems. In a press conference, Nole explains that he was very touched by the despair of his partner.
A new moment of emotion a week after the overwhelming farewell of his rival, Roger Federer. “I had a lot of great moments this week, of course one of them is winning the title, it was a really fun tournament. Playing the other day with kids was also wonderful, I always try to do that every time I go to tournaments and here in Israel it was no different, they were all very nice.
And finally, I hold back Jonathan Erlich's tears the week he retired, I saw him cry before his last practice because he knew he couldn't play the next day, it hurt my heart. It was an extremely difficult time for him because all he wanted was to say goodbye by playing one last game, even if it was only a few games, but nothing worked out.
It was a sad but very moving moment, we both have a very good relationship and we shared a lot of moments during this week”.