Written by: on 12th November 2017
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By Ricky Dimon


Jack Sock’s debut match at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals was not successful. Alexander Zverev’s, on the other hand, was a different story. Of course, it helps–a lot–when you’re not looking at Roger Federer on the other side of the net. Such was Sock’s fate, whereas Zverev went up against Marin Cilic.


Cilic is tough in his own right, but he isn’t Roger Federer. And he wasn’t quite tough enough for Zverev on Sunday night in London. Zverev took down the 2014 U.S. Open champion 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 after two hours and five minutes, wrapping up the first day of round-robin competition at the 2017 year-end event.


The 20-year-old German may have taken the opening set, but he was the one who ended up needing to stage a comeback. After Cilic snagged set two, the fifth-ranked Croat broke serve for a quick 2-1 advantage in the third. He consolidated the lead to 3-1 and had a 0-30 edge in Zverev’s next service game before things started to turn around. Zverev managed to hold for 2-3, broke for 3-3, and eventually broke to love at 5-4 to clinch victory in style.


“Of course I’m very happy to get my first win in this group,” the world No. 3 assured. “I always am someone who plays with the crowd quite a lot. I enjoy playing in front of big stages, big crowds. So, yeah, it obviously helped me a lot in the third…. It is different walking on here than any other stadium. The crowd, the atmosphere is amazing.


“Obviously it was a big turnaround in (the) 3-2 game (of the final set),” Cilic reflected. “Even on 3-1, I had some chances to go double-break up. Then on 3-2, 40-15 up, one point at 40-30 where he closed the net quite good. I just made a wrong decision to go cross-court. Then deuce I missed a ball which was Hawkeye. He hit great lob on the break point. Just things turned around a little bit.”


Both Cilic and Sock will be desperate to turn things back around when they go head-to-head on Tuesday. Sock is currently last in the group because he won no sets in his match, but Cilic still has to play Federer on Thursday. So both players are up against the wall.


As the two winners on Day 1, Federer and Zverev will square off on Tuesday.


In doubles, meanwhile, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert battled back from a set down and saved one match point to overcome Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 1-6, 7-6(7), 10-8. Rojer and Tecau led 6-5 in the second-set tiebreaker, but Mahut thwarted that chance with an effective serve.


The Dutch-Romanian paring was undone by double-faults. Tecau doubled at 7-7 in the second-set ‘breaker and the French duo closed it out one point later. Rojer doubled at 8-8 in the super-tiebreaker, after which Herbert and Mahut clinched victory on the next point.


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