Zverev finishes strong for winning debut at World Tour Finals

Two players were making their first-ever appearances at the World Tour Finals on Sunday. One was successful. The other had to play against Roger Federer.

After Jack Sock fell to Federer during the afternoon session, Alexander Zverev made a winning start in London by overcoming Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 after two hours and five minutes. Zverev fired nine aces and converted three of four break-point opportunities to get off to a 1-0 start in Group B round-robin competition.

The world No. 3 may have taken the opening set, but he was the one who ended up needing to mount a comeback. After Cilic won set two, the 2014 U.S. Open champion 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 the tide started to turn. Zverev managed to hold for 2-3, broke Cilic for 3-3, and eventually broke again to love at 5-4 to clinch victory in grand fashion.

“Of course I’m very happy to get my first win in this group,” the 20-year-old German commented. “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 explained. “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 square off on Tuesday. As the two winners on Day 1, Federer and Zverev will go head-to-head when Group A action continues.

In doubles, meanwhile, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert recovered from a set down and saved one match point to beat 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 saved the match with an effective serve that allowed Herbert to put away a backhand volley.

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

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