by IANS |
Tel Aviv (Israel), Oct 3 (IANS) World No 7 and top seed Novak Djokovic defeated second seed Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the Tel Aviv Open 2022 title here on Sunday.
With the victory, the Serbian became the first man to win a title on hard, clay (Rome) and grass courts (Wimbledon) this season.
Djokovic did not lose a set at the indoor hard-court ATP 250, where he was never in difficulty against a lineup of dangerous opponents. The 35-year-old claimed his third tour-level crown of 2022 and the 89th of his career.
Cilic entered the final having faced just four break points all week, but he was under pressure on serve throughout the championship clash. Djokovic found great depth on his returns against the big-serving Croatian, which set the tone.
Djokovic constantly threatened his opponent's serve with his play from the back of the court, while he dominated his own service games behind his first serve. The Serbian did not face a break point in the first set and when he found himself in trouble at deuce while serving for the set, he responded with back-to-back aces.
The top seed then broke for the second time in the match to start the second set, with a deep return again paying dividends. That advantage proved to be enough as Djokovic claimed the crown after one hour and 35 minutes.
Cilic has the ability to take the racquet out of any player's hand with his powerful game, but he was unable to take Djokovic out of his comfort zone. The World No. 7 faced just one break point, which allowed him to play with confidence.
Djokovic now leads the pair's ATP Head2Head series 19-2. Thirteen of his 19 victories against the former World No. 3 have come in straight sets. Despite the loss it was a good week for Cilic, who celebrated his 34th birthday on 28 September.
"It was a fantastic week for me celebrating my 'irthday. I didn't have a chance to celebrate with so [many people before],'but next time I'm buying drinks for everybody," Cilic said during the trophy ceremony.
Djokovic is the fifth player to earn at least three tour-level titles this season, joining Carlos Alcaraz (5), Rafael Nadal (4), Andrey Rublev (3) and Casper Ruud (4). The Serbian will try to claim his fourth trophy of 2022 next week at the Astana Open.