It’s a very high-profile final at the 2022 Tel Aviv Open as the top two seeds battle for the title. Novak Djokovic takes on Marin Cilic in what will be their 21st career meeting. The Serbian has dominated the rivalry with 18 wins and just two losses. Who’ll clinch the title on Sunday?
ATP Tel Aviv Final Prediction
Novak Djokovic vs Marin Cilic
Head-to-head: Djokovic 18-2
Novak Djokovic hasn’t really reached a vintage level in Tel Aviv yet, but he also didn’t need to. In fact, he’s yet to face a Top 100 opponent this week, defeating Roman Safiullin, Vasek Pospisil, and Pablo Andujar. He’s yet to drop a set and while the match against the Canadian was quite close, it never really got to a point where you’d think that there was any chance the 21-time Grand Slam champion was going out.
Marin Cilic only needed to win two matches to get to the final. Like Djokovic, he received a bye in the opening round, before benefitting from Liam Broady’s walkover in the quarterfinals. He looked great in a gutsy win over Dominic Thiem though and came back from a 2-5 deficit in the opening set to beat Constant Lestienne in straights.
It’s a very lopsided head-to-head and for a good reason. Cilic’s power-hitting style usually comes up short against the spectacular defense of Djokovic, it’s also a little too linear. The Croat actually landed two wins against his rival in a row–Paris 2016 and Queen’s 2018, one on a very slow indoor hard court, the other on grass. The courts in Tel Aviv are quite fast and should help Cilic generate a bit more of an attacking edge in the rallies.
But Djokovic is hungry for this, having been unable to compete in many events this year. He needs to cherish the ones he gets to play and will be extra motivated to take the title here. As mentioned earlier, the Serbian hasn’t really faced anyone remotely close to the class of Cilic yet. And that’s perhaps the underdog’s best chance here. Come out firing and hope that it will take Djokovic a while to adjust.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3
Main Photo from Getty.