Novak Djokovic has qualified for the final at his first individual ATP tournament since Wimbledon on Saturday. The Serb was too strong for the Russian Roman Safiulin in the last four.
The 35-year-old Djokovic defeated Safiulin, ten years younger, 6-1 and 7-6 (3). The number seven in the world decided the match on the hard court in Israel after more than an hour and a half on his second match point.
Djokovic took the first set within 23 minutes, but had a lot more trouble with Safiulin in the second company. The 21-time Grand Slam winner took a break at 4-4, but the global number 104 immediately restored the balance and forced a tiebreak. In that, Djokovic still struck.
Djokovic will face Marin Cilic in the final. The Croat was too strong for Frenchman Constant Lestienne in the other semi-final with 7-5 and 6-3.
Djokovic will play his first individual tournament in Israel since his Wimbledon title in July. Because the number seven in the world has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, he was unable to participate in the US Open. He did, however, play at the Laver Cup last weekend.
At the tournament in Tel Aviv, which is back on the ATP calendar for the first time since 1999, Djokovic can conquer his third title of the year. In addition to his triumph at Wimbledon, he was also the strongest at the Masters tournament in Rome.