Novak Djokovic: 'It was an extremely difficult time for...'

“It was an extremely difficult time for…”

After 81 days away from the big circuit – with only a fleeting participation in the Laver Cup to mark Roger Federer’s farewell to tennis – Novak Djokovic returned to Tel Aviv (where he had evidently never played) and won the 250 safety points on the eve of the last “500” and the last “1000” of the season it goes into the final.

Staying between ninth and twentieth in the race is enough for the Serb to secure a place in the finale in Turin. A task that could have been more complicated than expected given his non-appearance at the Australian Open and the Us Open – including a quarter-final defeat at Roland Garros, which Nadal had beaten in the quarter-finals.

Especially given the non-awarding of points at Wimbledon. In short: After an extremely positive week, the Serbian phenomenon also put the name of Marin Cilic on the notepad. In fact, after his bouts with Vasek Pospisil and Roman Safiullin, at least in the second set, he saved most of his energy (physical and mental) from him for the biggest match of them all.

Djokovic took control of the situation from the start and toyed with a double break in the middle of the first set several times. Similar situation in set number two, with Cilic needing extra time to hold the set and avoid the final 1-4 in set number two.

However, the Croatian could do little, limited himself to defending his breaks and only became dangerous once. Only at 2-3. Called up to serve for the match, Djokovic plays an exceptional match, finishing 6-3, 6-4 after just over an hour and a half.

Djokovic won in Tel Aviv

In Israel, where he won his 89th singles title, Novak Djokovic should also have teamed up with local Jonathan Erlich, the only player he won a doubles title with during his career (at Queen’s, 2010).

Erlich was due to play the last tournament of his career with the Serbian legend at the age of 45 but was forced to withdraw due to physical problems. In a press conference, Nole explains that he was very touched by his partner’s desperation.

A new emotional moment a week after his rival Roger Federer’s stunning farewell. “I had a lot of great moments this week, one of them is of course winning the title, it was a really fun tournament. Playing with kids recently was also wonderful, I try to do that every time I go to tournaments and it was no different here in Israel, they were all very nice.

And finally, I’m holding back Jonathan Erlich’s tears, the week he retired, I saw him cry before his last practice because he knew he couldn’t play the next day, it hurt my heart. It was an extremely difficult time for him because he just wanted to say goodbye with one last game, even if it was just a few games, but nothing worked out.

It was a sad but very touching moment, we both have a very good relationship and we shared many moments this week.”

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