Novak Djokovic booked his spot in the final of the Western & Southern Open as he looks to complete that elusive Golden Masters. The Serb has made the finals five times, falling short every time.
The former world number one was tested once again, going three sets with Marin Cilic but came through to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Djokovic Breaks Early To Take Opener
Cilic came out aggressive early, trying to make his intent shown. That aggression backfired in his second service game though, hitting a few errors, gifting Djokovic the early break on a backhand slice that floated well wide.
The seventh-seeded Croat found himself in much better positions in the following game, getting out to a 0-30 lead after a couple or brutal groundstroke winners. Djokovic however, found a way to hold on to consolidate the break for 3-1.
The 2016 champion found himself with a golden opportunity for break points but missed an easy floating volley wide. He was gifted the chance for a break though, after the Serb double-faulted. At 30-40, Djokovic was called for a time violating warning as the clock hit zero before he started his service motion.
Despite all that, he held serve. Djokovic blew a 40-0 lead in the eighth game and battled through four deuces before holding. While serving for the set, the five-time finalist had to save a break point with Cilic knocking his return long.
Cilic Forces Decider
Cilic finally broke through on the Djokovic serve to start the second set, much to the frustration of the Serb. The Croat was pushed to deuce before holding for a 3-0 lead.
The fifth game proved to be a vital one. Djokovic had one break point chance saved, but the marathon game went to five deuces which saw the final two points finish with a net cord and overhead for Cilic.
The sixth game saw Djokovic play sloppier than usual. He gifted a break to Cilic as the Croat went up 5-1 with a chance to serve to force a decider. Cilic played his worst game by far of the set after missing a forehand into the net to give one of the two breaks back.
Djokovic Decisive In Decider
The start of the third is exactly what both players wanted until Cilic was tasked with saving break point. Cilic knocked a forehand into the net to give Djokovic the early lead in the third, up 3-1.
Cilic immediately was threatening to break back, going up 0-40. All three break chances were saved wonderfully by the Serb but a double-fault with the advantage to the Croat gave the break back.
Serving for four-all, the seven seed was down a couple of break points. He saved both of them but had his back against the wall again. Djokovic came up with a brilliant forehand winner that gave him the break.
The five-time finalist booked his spot in the final, hitting another winner to close it out. He will face Roger Federer or David Goffin in the final.