Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to six in a row over Marin Cilic as the German made a fine start to his campaign at the ATP Finals in London.
Third seed Zverev sealed a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-1) victory in a tight contest over the sorry Croatian to move top of Group Guga Kuerten on Monday.
He initially found himself trailing the 2014 US Open champion 3-0 and showed a touch of petulance by slapping down his racket in frustration.
Zverev, who has been suffering from a shoulder injury that has dogged him during the European indoor season, got on the board in the next game, and then rallied to win four out of the next five games to level things up at 5-5 before the next two were held and we headed into a tie-break.
Cilic made an inauspicious start to it, but despite a mini-fightback, the 21-year-old German wrapped it up with his third set point after 65 minutes.
This was the duo’s seventh meeting in three years, with Cilic looking to stop the German wunderkind from making it six wins on the bounce. They traded service games at the business end of the second set, before former Wimbledon finalist Cilic saved a match point as we headed into another tie-break.
And Zverev took total control to claim victory, while the Croatian now has an unwanted 1-9 losing record at the tournament.
Shot of the match
Zverev’s attempted hot dog was brilliantly improvised, but Cilic was waiting at the net to pounce.
“I just wanted to fight back because he was up a break a few times in both sets so I just knew this was an important match. You don’t want to start the group stage with a losing record so it was very important to get the win and I wish him all the best for the next two matches,” said Zverev. “I’m happy how I played and I’m happy to build from here.”
When push comes to shove, Zverev was making sure that Cilic was making that extra ball. He was bringing Cilic forward and when he has the chance he was putting his chance away. The first set was where the match was won.
Greg Rusedski on Alexander Zverev
Last year on his London debut Zverev failed to survive the group stage, but after his winning start, he has now put himself in with a good chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. Cilic will be scratching his head and figure out what happened as he prepares to take on the loser of the match between Novak Djokovic and John Isner next.
A. Zverev v Cilic: Match Stats
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