TENNIS • ATP FINALS DAY 6 • RICKY’S PREVIEWS AND PICKS: ZVEREV VS. ISNER, DJOKOVIC VS. CILIC

Written by: on 15th November 2018
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TENNIS • ATP FINALS DAY 6 • RICKY'S PREVIEWS AND PICKS: ZVEREV VS. ISNER, DJOKOVIC VS. CILIC  |
Photo by Dusan Vemic

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Round-robin competition at the Nitto ATP Finals will conclude when the Group A quartet takes the court one more time on Friday. Novak Djokovic is already through to the semifinals, but everyone else–Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, and John Isner–is still alive. Zverev is going up against a winless Isner, while Djokovic faces Cilic.

 

Ricky previews the action and makes his predictions.

 

(3) Alexander Zverev vs. (8) John Isner

Zverev and Isner will in all likelihood battling for a semifinal spot when they meet for the sixth time on Friday afternoon. That will be the case if Djokovic beats Cilic during the night session, although a Cilic win would bring all kinds of semifinal permutations and combinations into the mix.

 

Whatever the case, Isner knows he must win in straight sets to maintain his semifinal chances. Zverev, on the other hand, could advance by taking just one set even if he eventually loses the overall match. Defeating the German in straight sets is something Isner has never done in five previous tilts. That being said, the world No. 10′s biggest career title came at Zverev’s expense–a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 decision earlier this year in the Miami final. Zverev, who leads the head-to-head series 4-1 (2-0 on hard courts), avenged his lone loss to Isner with a 6-4, 7-5 success in the Madrid Masters QFs.

 

Making his third O2 Arena appearance at only 21 years old, Zverev got smushed by Djokovic 6-4, 6-1 on Wednesday but his SF hopes are alive and well thanks to an opening 7-6(5), 7-6(1) victory over Cilic.

 

Isner was initially the second alternate for London before getting in when both Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal withdrew. The 6’10” American is also fortunate to still be mathematically alive for the semis–which he is despite losing to Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 and to Cilic 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4.

 

Half of the field has not played a bad match yet in London and Isner is part of that quartet (also Djokovic, Cilic, and Kevin Anderson). Based on current form, he should have an edge against Zverev this time around.

Pick: Isner in 2

 

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (5) Marin Cilic

Djokovic has already clinched a spot in the semifinals, but he will try to continue an undefeated trek through the event. He is dominating the head-to-head series with Cilic 16-2, although the Croat has won two of the last four meetings and Cilic’s two losses during this stretch have come in three sets. They most recently collided earlier this month in the Paris QFs, with Djokovic prevailing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

 

The world No. 1 eventually fell to Karen Khachanov in the Paris final, but he never looked 100 percent during the week and had also endured a three-set thriller against Roger Federer one day earlier. Back in business now, Djokovic is 2-0 this week and 4-0 in total sets.

 

Cilic lost his opening match to Zverev, but he kept his chances alive by overcoming Isner in three sets on Wednesday night. The world No. 7 is a mere 5-7 in his last 12 matches dating back to the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

 

As long as Djokovic is motivated even though he has already advanced, the top seed should roll.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

 

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

 

Photo by 10sBalls

 

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