Novak Djokovic claimed his third title of 2022 and 89th of his career with an impressive straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic in the Tel Aviv final yesterday.
The 35-year-old Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 6-4 to add the Israeli trophy to victories in Rome and Wimbledon this season.
It was Djokovic’s 19th win over Cilic in 21 meetings in a rivalry stretching back to 2008.
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 birthday,” Cilic said during the trophy ceremony. “I didn’t have a chance to celebrate with so (many people before), but next time I’m buying drinks everybody!”
Djokovic was playing his first singles tournament since wrapping up a seventh Wimbledon crown and 21st Grand Slam title in July. He was banned from the US Open and the entire North American hard court swing over his refusal to be vaccinated before returning for Roger Federer’s farewell in the Laver Cup team event in London last month.
Yesterday, Djokovic broke Cilic in the second game of the final and pocketed the first set with a fourth ace after 47 minutes on court.
Former US Open winner Cilic, chasing a 21st career title but first of 2022, was broken in the first game of the second set and the 34-year-old never recovered.
The Serb only faced one break point in the final which was clinched in 94 minutes.
Djokovic, who didn’t drop a set all week, now heads to the Astana ATP tournament where world number one Carlos Alcaraz takes the top seeding.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy and ballboys after winning the Tel Aviv Open final against Croatia’s Marin Cilic. (Reuters)