RICKY’S PICKS • NITTO ATP TENNIS FINALS DAY 4 PREVIEWS • DJOKOVIC VS. ZVEREV, CILIC VS. ISNER

Written by: on 13th November 2018
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ATP Tour Finals Tennis
RICKY'S PICKS • NITTO ATP TENNIS FINALS DAY 4 PREVIEWS • DJOKOVIC VS. ZVEREV, CILIC VS. ISNER

epa07161165 Germany's Alexander Zverev in action against Croatia's Marin Cilic during their Men's Singles Round Robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 12 November 2018. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA  |
Germany’s Alexander Zverev in action against Croatia’s Marin Cilic during their Men’s Singles Round Robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 12  November 2018.  EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

The second day of round-robin action in Group A at the Nitto ATP Finals pits Novak Djokovic against Alexander Zverev, while Marin Cilic and John Isner are likely playing for their tournament life. The Djokovic-Zverev winner will seize control of the group, as both players are 1-0 following Monday’s results.

 

Ricky previews the Wednesday schedule and makes his predictions.

 

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (3) Alexander Zverev

Djokovic is in the midst of a dominant stretch in which he is 32-2 in his last 34 matches. He has not defeated any opponent during this hot streak worse than he did Zverev at the Shanghai Masters last month.

 

Following a 6-2, 6-1 beatdown at the current world No. 1′s hands there, Zverev will get another shot when they meet once Wednesday afternoon in London. They have faced each other just twice in their careers, with Zverev triumphing 6-4, 6-3 in last year’s Rome final before Djokovic’s recent dominance in Shanghai.

 

The Serb endured a brief hiccup with a Paris final loss to Karen Khachanov, but he never looked 100 percent throughout the week and showed signs of fatigue following a 7-6(6), 5-7, 7-6(3) victory over Roger Federer in the semis.

 

Although returns are early in London, it is already fair to say that Djokovic is back in business. The 31-year-old easily took down John Isner 6-4, 6-3 in his O2 Arena opener, breaking the 6’10” American three times. A win here is nothing new for Djokovic, who is now 32-11 lifetime at the YEC with five titles and one runner-up finish.

 

Zverev is making his third trip to the Nitto ATP Finals at just 21 years old and his bid for a first-ever semifinal appearance is off to a positive start. The German edged Marin Cilic 7-6(5), 7-6(1) on Monday, recovering from a break down in each set. He is now 10-4 this fall and has reached at least the QFs of three consecutive tournaments.

 

Of course, Zverev was also playing well in advance of their Shanghai match…and we all saw how that one turned out.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

 

(5) Marin Cilic vs. (8) John Isner

US player John Isner returns against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic 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

Cilic and Isner will be squaring off for the 11th time on Wednesday. The Croat leads the head-to-head series 7-3, but the tide has turned emphatically dating back to the fall of 2016. Once 0-6 in his career against Cilic, Isner has won three of their last four meetings. The tour’s biggest server–arguably–has taken each of their last two hard-court contests; 6-4, 6-3 in Paris two years ago and 7-6(0), 6-3 this March in Miami.

 

In terms of ranking points, Miami is the biggest reason why Isner finds himself in London. After beating Cilic there, the 33-year-old defeated Juan Martin Del Potro in the SFs and Zverev in the final. Isner went on to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open quarters before an abbreviated fall swing put a brief end to his London hopes.

 

London withdrawals by Del Poto and Rafael Nadal gave new life to Isner’s season, but following his loss to Djokovic the world No. 10 will have to beat Cilic if he wants to prolong it once more. Cilic’s back is also against the wall because of his loss to Zverev, which dropped the 2014 U.S. Open champion to 1-9 lifetime at the O2. Needless to say, Cilic has never advanced out of round-robin n three previous trips to this event.

 

The loss continued a disappointing fall for Cilic, who is 4-7 in his last 11 matches dating back to the U.S. Open. Based on current form and a relatively high-bouncing court, Isner should have a slight edge.

Pick: Isner in 3

 

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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