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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, October 2, 2022


Top-seeded Novak Djokovic won 32 of 36 first-serve points and did not drop serve stopping second-seeded Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4 to collect his 89th career championship in Tel Aviv.

Photo credit: Tel Aviv Watergen Open Facebook

Man for all seasons Novak Djokovic solidified his status as a champion for all surfaces.

Three months after Djokovic ascended to his seventh Wimbledon crown on the All England Club's lawns, he tore it up on Tel Aviv's hard courts.

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The top-seeded Djokovic was near flawless on serve dismissing second-seeded Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4 to collect his 89th career title in Tel Aviv.

It is Djokovic's third title of the season—he's the first man to win a Tour-level title on all three surfaces this season after ruling Rome's red clay and Wimbledon's historic lawn.

The 35-year-old Serbian is fifth on the ATP all-time championship list after leader Jimmy Connors (109 titles), recently-retired Roger Federer (103), Ivan Lendl (94) and Rafael Nadal (92).

"Well, it was a fantastic week for me celebrating my birthday," Cilic told the crowd. "I didn't have a chance to celebrate with so much people before, but next time I'm buying drinks for everybody.

"It was a great week. Big congratulations to Novak for another great tournament." 

A cranky wrist pained Djokovic in his Laver Cup loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime last weekend. Embraced by Tel Aviv fans, Djokovic rolled through the field collecting his first hard-court title of the season without surrendering a set.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion smacked seven aces, won 32 of 36 first-serve points and saved the lone break point he faced maintaining his mastery of Cilic. Djokovic improved to 19-2 lifetime vs. the 2014 US Open champion, whose last win over the Serbian came in the 2018 Queen's Club final on grass.

Earning early breaks in both sets empowered Djokovic to swing freely on serve. Djokovic broke for 3-1. He navigated a challenging ninth game to serve out the first set.

Withstanding that tricky test energized Djokovic, who won eight of the first nine points of set two building a 2-0 lead.

Stinging strikes sent Marin Cilic chasing corner to corner before Djokovic dabbed a breathtaking drop shot winner into the front court like a painter plopping a splotch of yellow paint ont the court. That superb touch prompted a standing ovation from some fans as Djokovic held for 4-2.

A sharp Djokovic won eight of his last nine points on serve, including sliding a slick backhand slice pass down the line, to seal title No. 89.


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