World Tour Finals preview and prediction: Cilic vs. Sock

Marin Cilic and Jack Sock will be facing borderline must-win situations when they collide during round-robin action at the World Tour Finals on Tuesday afternoon. With both players 0-1 following their first matches, a semifinal spot will all but slip away for whoever loses again.

It is Cilic who has come out on the short end in each of their two previous encounters. Sock prevailed twice during the summer of 2016; 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 with home-court advantage in the Davis Cup quarterfinals and 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 at the U.S. Open.

Sock appeared to have gone this entire year without facing Cilic a single time, but that all changed at the Paris Masters–where he delayed the start of his offseason by two weeks. The world No. 9 needed to win the Paris title in order to have any shot at London and he also needed a lot of help from other contenders. He got both. By far the biggest title of Sock’s career propelled Sock to his debut appearance at the O2 Arena, where he had to open against Roger Federer and accounted himself well throughout a 6-4, 7-6(4) loss.

Cilic led Alexander Zverev by a break in the third set of their opening match on Sunday, but Zverev recovered to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. In two previous trips to London this season, the Croat did not lose early. He finished runner-up to Feliciano Lopez at Queen’s Club (10-8 in a third-set tiebreaker) and also reached the Wimbledon final (fell to Federer in straight sets). Cilic owns a 44-20 record in 2017 with three semifinal showings this fall plus a quarterfinal appearance in Paris.

“Probably not,” Sock said when asked if it would get easier after going up against Federer in his first match. “Since everyone here is top eight in the world, everyone is a pretty good tennis player. I don’t know. It will be different for sure. Roger puts a pressure on you that I feel no other player really does. I’ll definitely be able to hit my way into the next few matches, have some longer rallies, (and) not feel sort of the presence he puts on you when you’re out there. I’ve had wins against both (Cilic and Zverev); had losses (one loss to Zverev), as well. But at least I can take stuff away from those matches where I’ve had the wins and apply it.”

The American does not have home-court advantage this time around, so Cilic–a veteran of the World Tour Finals–should have a better chance. If the fifth seed serves well and can dictate rallies to Sock’s backhand, some revenge for last year’s setbacks may be in the cards.

Pick: Cilic in 3

22 Comments on World Tour Finals preview and prediction: Cilic vs. Sock

  1. I am going with pieman’s pick. ie., of SOCK IT!

    Sock will sock his ole dirty socks onto Cilic’s face (and wear the laundry cleaned fresh socks himself!lol) for the 3rd time and win in 3 sets.

    Cilic is on a 2 match losing streak and will be low on confidence.

    Cilic might also be winded a bit after struggling and losing in 3 sets. Sock will be fresh from playing a 2 setter (unlike Cilic’s 3 sets) with “The GOAT & King of Tennis” Federer!lol

    Sock is the younger fellow by 5 years, so Socky will have more in his tank if it goes to 3 sets!

    Cilic lost to Julien Benneteau in 2 sets whereas Sock beat Julien Benneteau in 2 sets. This shows how strong Sock currently is!

    Sock is the better returner also and should win comfortably.

    Sock can win in 2 tight sets also. He is in very good form and is full of confidence after winning the Paris Open and after putting up a strong performance against World No.1 (in my eyes after Nadal’s exit).

    With this confidence and momentum, Sock will Sock Cilic and win.

    Liking Sock ML and +1.5 games Sock and +1.5 sets Sock to win

  2. Wow- I just noticed that Sock actually leads their head-to-head 2-0! And both wins were best-of-five, and arguably Sock’s biggest career wins. Maybe he has more of a chance than most are giving him?

    • He definitely has a good shot. I was thinking of changing my pick to him but decided to stick with my original choice of Cilic.

  3. Sock the better player now. He was very unlucky on the break point at 5-5
    Quite impressed by sock…thought he would struggle but he doesn’t look out of place here…

  4. Omg…. Cilic was up a break in the third 3-1 and AGAIN got broken back like the last match. Let’s see if he can stay in this one and not throw the match away.

    • Aren’t you impressed by the improvement in Sock Kevin?? Am pleasantly surprised..
      He slices the backhand a lot mind!!

      • I am very pleasantly surprised by Sock, Amy! For a guy who has one of the most glaring weaknesses in his game (backhand), he has certainly been able to maximize his weapons. I’ve been most impressed by Sock with his attitude in matches! He has had a number of really great wins recently where he lost the first set, or had to save match points. He has shown a level of mental toughness that I didn’t really think he had.

        He also clearly has a really good match-up with Cilic, as all three of his wins over Cilic are arguably his 3 biggest match wins in his career thus far.

  5. Cilic is mentally weak; I thought he had overcome that problem, but apparently not. I don’t nderstand why Cilic keeps hitting BHCC to Sock when Sock would run around to hit his CC FH. I mean when you get burnt doing that so often, why not change something?

    Sock is throwing everything at him – slices, dropshots, lobs, everything – he at least plays with varieties; Cilic plays so one dimensionally compared to Sock.

    • luckystar, you very nicely summarized the match between Cilic and sock ie., variety (in shot making) winning against 1-dimensional game besides better consistency from sock.

      Besides being mentally weak I knew that Cilic the older man would fade against the younger man sock in a decider. Posted somewhere above yesterday.

      That is just one reason why I picked Sock to win besides the better form & momentum he was carrying into this match…which enables you to hit more winners and be in the zone better…making you the “SHOWTIME” Sock!

      Hmmmm…Sock’s sock is smelling better now….kinda lavender laundry fresh!lol Keep it smelling fresh Sock and you may find yourself playing THE GOAT (Fed) in the Finals soon!

  6. I could be wrong, obviously, but I think there is a good chance that we will have a Federer-Zverev final! Their match in a few hours could be a taste of what is to come in the final… We shall see!

  7. Yeah Sock!! I stuck with my initial Cilic pick from start of the week but I knew this would be a toss up. And boy was it ever!! Sock’s mental strength is honestly one of his most underrated qualities imo. Cilic is a bit on and off in that department. Seems Iike he never does well at this event though.

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