Novak Djokovic's telling admission after controversial tennis ban

Novak Djokovic (pictured) smiles after winning the Tel Aviv Open.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) said he was extra motivated to win the Tel Aviv Open having spent so much time away from the Tour. (Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic has claimed his absence from the ATP Tour has provided him 'extra motivation' after taking out the Tel Aviv Open on the weekend.

The 35-year-old Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 6-4 to add the Israeli hard court trophy to victories on the Rome clay and Wimbledon grass this season.

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Djokovic didn't show too many signs of rust on his way to his 19th win over Cilic, in 21 meetings, that stretches back to their first clash in 2008.

Having played a few matches during the Laver Cup, Djokovic hit the ground running in Tel Aviv and didn't drop a set all week.

And the 21-time grand slam champ was impressed with his own level having faced barriers entering countries all year due to his unvaccinated status.

"I played some very good tennis. I didn't drop a set the entire week," Djokovic said post-match.

"I hadn't played a tournament in three months, so it was really extra motivation for me to really do well, particularly because people have been so friendly and so supportive of me throughout the week.

"I'm taking some great confidence into next week as well."

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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 never recovered.

The Serb only faced one break point in the match which was clinched in 94 minutes.

Djokovic's only other match in Israel was 15 years ago when he played a Davis Cup tie for his nation.

It didn't take long for Djokovic to head over to the Astana Open ATP 500 event, in Kazakhstan, where he will receive a boost to his ATP ranking.

Joining Djokovic in Kazakhstan was teenage World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz.

The duo were filmed visiting a centre for autistic children in the capital before the tournament starts on Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic (picture) poses with the trophy after winning the Tel Aviv Open.
Novak Djokovic (picture) poses with the trophy after winning the Tel Aviv Open. (Photo by Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Djokovic is currently set to qualify the end-of-year event, which he claimed was one of his goals in 2022.

At World No.7, Djokovic only needs to finish in the Top 20 to qualify for the ATP Finals.

with AFP

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