Novak Djokovic captures his 89th ATP Tour title, his third into the 2022 season, the first at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open, overpowering second seed Marin Cilic on Sunday’s championship match.
Former world number one Novak Djokovic emerged victorious from the highly competitive championship match, edging World No. 16 Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4 after one hour and 35 minutes, wrapping up a brilliant run at the ATP 250 event.
During the trophy ceremony, the Serbian player stressed: “My approach is to win tournaments wherever I am, and I’m glad that I have a team of people around me that makes sure that I am in the best shape in order to be a contender to win titles.
“That’s why I came to Israel, to try to win the title. First time playing here [since a] Davis Cup tie more than 15 years ago, so it was a really amazing experience.”
On the way to claim his 89th title on Tour, the top-seeded player showcased high-level tennis. Without dropping a set, returning well, and serving even better, he went the distance to edge his opponents one by one, leaving his best on the court, hungry for victory, as from day one.
In that regard, the 35-year-old commented: “I played some very good tennis, I think. I [didn’t] drop a set the entire week.”
Adding: “I hadn’t played a tournament in three months, so it was really extra motivation for me to really do well, particularly because people have been so friendly and supportive of me throughout the week. I’m taking some great confidence into next week as well.”
Next week, Djokovic will play at the Astana Open, opening his campaign at the ATP 500 event staged in Kazakhstan against Chile’s Cristian Garin.
The fast-paced final saw the Belgrade native facing Cilic, who brought his A-game to the tournament, enjoying a solid week that led him to the final.
Djokovic set off the opener, playing from the back of the court, controlling play from all angles, and wise on serve. It was a matter of time before he produced a break of serve over his adversary to take a 3-1 lead.
Under pressure, the big-serving Croatian held on, raising his level to fight back, but so did his rival.
At 5-3, they played a couple of long, high-quality rallies, perhaps the most balanced moment through the first set.
Regardless of the Croat top performance, the 21-time Grand Slam champion quickly shut the door, and untroubled on serve, he finished off 6-3 with an ace after 46 minutes.
Djokovic kept the momentum into the second set, breaking early, a pivotal moment in the match.
Meanwhile, the silver medalist at Tokyo Olympics held his nerve and regrouped, going from 0-2 down to 2-3.
However, when the opportunity to level up the score presented itself, he failed to convert his first and lone chance to break the World No. 7, who consolidated his advantage at 4-2.
Maximizing his opportunities, Djokovic marched to close out the set 6-4 with an ace to lift the trophy in Israel while becoming the first player to win tour-level titles on all three surfaces, hard, clay and grass, thus far this season.
Overall, he won 89 percent of his first serve points compared to the 34-year-old 71 percent.
On top of that, he converted two of six breakpoint opportunities, hitting seven aces and committing just four double faults.
Cilic, a former U.S. Open champion, will also compete in Astana; the ninth seed’s opening match will take place Tuesday against German Oscar Otte.