Novak Djokovic sails into fourth final of 2022
Novak Djokovic has reached the fourth final of his 2022 season thanks to victory over Roman Safiullin in straight sets in the Tel Aviv semi-finals.
The 35-year-old Serbian triumphed 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) over the Russian.
Djokovic will be out to win his third title of the season, and 89th of his career, when he tackles either Croatia’s Marin Cilic or Constant Lestienne of France in Sunday’s final.
Former World No 1 one Djokovic raced to a 5-0 lead on his way to capturing the opening set in just 23 minutes without facing a break point and looked to be cruising to a straightforward victory.
However, World No 104 Safiullin, who was bidding to make an ATP final for the first time, would provide stiffer resistance in the second set.
Safiullin had two break points which Djokovic saved in the sixth game and the 25-year-old Russian was made to pay when the 21-time Grand Slam winner broke for a 5-4 lead.
Safiullin battled back to 6-6 before Djokovic swept through the tiebreaker, securing victory after 94 minutes on court.
Djokovic, who has titles in Rome and at Wimbledon this year, is currently seventh in the rankings and as a Grand Slam winner only needs to finish in the top 20 to guarantee a place in the ATP Finals.
The top seed got fired up during the match which saw his get a very good workout.
“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 in Israel takes him to his first tour-level hard-court final since his triumph at the Paris Masters last November.
Nole will take on either second seed and former US Open champion Cilic or French outsider Lestienne in Sunday’s championship match as he continues his pursuit of his third tour-level crown of the year.
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