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Djokovic makes 127th final of his career, defeats Safiullin in Tel Aviv

Novak Djokovic won against Roman Safiullin 6-1, 7-6 (3) on Saturday evening. He’ll play the winner of the match between Frenchman Constant Lestienne and Croat Marin Čilić, the second seed, for the title

Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Serb Novak Djokovic, the top seed, moved into the final of the Tel Aviv Open by defeating Russian Roman Safiullin 6-1, 7-6 (3) at Expo Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.

Djokovic, ranked No 7, will face Croat Marin Čilić, the second seed.

In only his eighth singles tournament this year, he reached the 127th tour-level final of his career (88-38), and fourth in 2022 (2-1). It is his first hard court final since 2021 ATP Masters 1000 Paris (where he beat Daniil Medvedev) – and his first non-Grand Slam tournament since Rome in May.

Djokovic has now reached at least one tour-level final in 21 different countries.

Djokovic: I was emotional today

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

The 35-year-old Serb won against Spaniard Pablo Andujar (6-0, 6-3) and Canadian lucky loser Vasek Pospisil (7-6 (5), 6-3) ahead of his victory.

Earlier in the tournament, Safiullin, ranked No 104, won against Frenchman Hugo Grenier (3-6, 6-4, 6-2), Argentinian Tomas Martin Etcheverry (6-1, 6-4) and Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech (6-4, 6-1).

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