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Djokovic eases through to Tel Aviv Open final, Rune to face Huesler in Sofia decider

By Kyle Goldsmith

Tel Aviv, October 2: Novak Djokovic is yet to drop a set at the Tel Aviv Open as he reached the final with a 6-1 7-6 (7-3) success over Roman Safiullin.

The Serb broke his Russian opponent twice as he cruised to the opening set, and though Safiullin took the 21-time grand slam champion to a tie-break in the second, Djokovic's class showed as he won the tie-break 7-3 to ensure his place in Sunday's decider.

It was far from plain sailing for Djokovic, who conceded the tension in the second set was hard to handle. Djokovic said: "I think it was a very competitive match, especially in the second set.

"I must say I was quite emotional on the court today in the second set, there was a lot of tension, and that was also due to his aggressive style of tennis. Big serves, and when he has time, he's so solid from the forehand and backhand corner.

"I knew that I had to stay very strong, and that he was definitely going to raise his level in the second set, which happened. I was serving for the match and played a couple of loose points, but credit to him for fighting back. It was an enjoyable evening on the court for sure."

Marin Cilic secured his spot as Djokovic's final opponent with a comfortable straight sets triumph over Constant Lestienne.

The Croatian second seed served 14 aces as he eased to victory in under two hours, winning 11 out of his 12 first-serve points en route to a 7-5 6-3 win.

Holger Rune is into the Sofia Open final after Jannik Sinner was forced to retire through injury with the Dane leading 5-7 6-4 5-2.

Sinner won the opening set but lost the second, and with Rune just one game away from winning the match, the top seed chose to retire with ankle pain, putting an end to his hopes of winning three straight titles in Sofia.

Rune will face Marc-Andrea Huesler in the final, after the world number 95 upset fourth seed Lorenzo Musetti.

The first set went to a tie-break as neither could find a break of serve, though Musetti found two in the tie-break to help him to a 5-1 lead.

However, the Italian surrendered the next six points as Huesler pulled off an incredible comeback to take the first set.

The second set was another tight affair as both held serve after serve, but Huesler finally found a crucial break to prevail 7-6 (7-5) 7-5.

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Story first published: Sunday, October 2, 2022, 9:10 [IST]
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