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Tennis 10sBalls Shares Ricky’s Preview And Pick For Sunday Night At The Nitto ATP World Tour Finals Zverev vs. Cilic

Alexander Zverev of Germany in action against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during their quarter final match of the Erste Bank Open ATP tennis tournament in Vienna, Austria, 27 October 2017. EPA-EFE/LISI NIESNER



By Ricky Dimon


Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic will be facing each other the fifth time in their careers when they clash during round-robin competition at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday evening.


Zverev leads the head-to-head series 3-1, including 1-0 this year thanks to a 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 win on the red clay of Madrid. Included in this current stretch of three consecutive victories for Zverev is their only previous indoor meeting which went the German’s way via a 7-6(4), 7-6(1) decision last season in Montpellier. Cilic’s lone win over Zverev came in the summer of 2016 at the Washington, D.C 500-point tournament.


Although it ended with a tough first-round French Open setback against Fernando Verdasco, Zverev’s clay-court swing marked the beginning of his climb to the top of tennis. In a stretch of three events, the 20-year-old captured the Munich trophy, reached the Madrid quarters following his defeat of Cilic, and won the biggest title of his career at the Rome Masters. Zverev triumphed at another Masters 1000 tournament in Montreal before going a mere 8-7 in his last seven events prior to London.


Cilic’s season is highlighted by a runner-up showing at Wimbledon, where he ultimately succumbed to Roger Federer in the final. The world No. 5 owns just a single title this year (Istanbul), but he has been extremely consistent in the aftermath of a rough start to the season in which he lost his opening match in five of his first 10 tournaments. Cilic has not lost his opener in any of his last 10 events.


This marks the Croat’s third trip to the O2 Arena in London. Although Cilic has never advanced to the semis, he at least managed to win a match last year after going 0-3 in 2014 and 0-2 in his first two matches of the 2016 event. Zverev, meanwhile, is in the World Tour Finals for the first time in his career.


“Playing in the [World] Tour Finals is like winning a tournament already,” Zverev explained. “Qualifying for London shows that you have been playing at a top-10 level the whole year. It’s an honor to play in London. It’s my first time and hopefully not my last, and I will try to prepare myself as well as I can and try to win many matches.


“It’s completely different because you play one of the top eight in the first match, so that’s something very special and you have to play your best from the early rounds. Top players usually try to play themselves into tournaments, like I did in Washington and Montreal–where I won 7-6 in the third (in the first match).”


Experience could be a factor in this one, and that edge goes to Cilic. The veteran has also been playing slightly better tennis than his opponent this fall, so he should like his chances of getting off to a strong start in London.


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

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