DJOKOVIC, ZVEREV WIN OPENING ROUND-ROBIN MATCHES AT NITTO ATP TENNIS FINALS IN LONDON

Written by: on 12th November 2018
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ATP Tour Finals Tennis
DJOKOVIC, ZVEREV WIN OPENING ROUND-ROBIN MATCHES AT NITTO ATP TENNIS FINALS IN LONDON

epa07161452 Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns against US player John Isner during their men's singles round-robin match on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 12 November 2018. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA  |
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns against US player John Isner during their men’s singles round-robin match on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 12  November 2018.  EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Novak Djokovic ran out of gas in the Rolex Paris Masters titles match earlier this month, but a week off and a return to the O2 Arena were just what the doctor ordered for the world No. 1.

 

Djokovic was back to his dominant self with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of London debutant John Isner during Group A competition at the Nitto ATP Finals on Monday night. The 14-time major champion solved the Isner serve and struck 21 winners compared to a minuscule six unforced errors while cruising in hour and 13 minutes.

 

After putting pressure on the big-hitting American right from the start but missing break chances in each of his first two return games, Djokovic seized control of the match with a backhand pass on break point at 2-2. The top seed had no trouble serving it out from there, as he dropped just four service points in the entire first set.

 

Isner held through the first six games of the second set, but additional breaks for Djokovic at 3-3 and 5-3 wrapped up the proceedings in swift style.

 

“I just prepared myself well for the match and executed everything really, really well,” Serb stated.

 

“He is No. 1 and No. 2 and No. 3,” Isner responded when asked to rank Djokovic among the game’s best returners. “He’s the best returner I’ve ever faced, for sure…. From the first point of the whole match he connected pretty well on return. To be honest, I’m not surprised.

 

“Sometimes you got to hope he’s a bit off. Unfortunately, I don’t think that was the case tonight. I got my ass kicked; that was pretty comprehensive out there. I was the underdog tonight and got beat down pretty good.”

 

Germany’s Alexander Zverev returns against Croatia’s Marin Cilic during their men’s singles round-robin match on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 12 November 2018. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

Tuesday’s opening showdown between Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic was more of a roller-coaster affair, even though it also ended in straight sets with Zverev prevailing 7-6(5), 7-6(1). Cilic led by a break in each set, including 3-0 in the first before getting a look at break points to go up by a double-break. The Croat also served for the set but double-faulted on break point at 5-3 and eventually surrendered it in a tiebreaker.

 

Zverev also recovered from an early deficit to force another tiebreaker in set two–this one which he took with the loss of only a single point.

 

“I think [the first set] could have gone both ways,” Cilic assessed. “Generally I felt that I was playing well, just I was not capitalizing on my chances. (In the) second set, as well, a break up and lost again my serve. So it was just a bit up-and-down through the match. And in these kind of matches, if you don’t take your chances that is unfortunately the way it goes.”

 

“The court is difficult,” Zverev commented. “The court is very fast and it’s very high-bouncing, as well. So everybody has to kind of find their rhythm in the first match. But at the end of the day, it was a pretty good match in the end. I’m happy to get the win; that’s the most important thing.”

 

The German’s reward is a Tuesday encounter with Djokovic, while Cilic and Isner will go head-to-head in a more desperate situation.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

 

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