ATP World Tour Finals: Alexander Zverev sneaks past Marin Cilic in thriller

Alexander Zverev dug deep for his first-ever win at the ATP World Tour Finals after coming from a break down in the decider to beat Marin Cilic in three sets.

ATP World Tour Finals: Alexander Zverev sneaks past Marin Cilic in thriller
Alexander Zverev is now in good position to qualify for the semifinals | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Alexander Zverev
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Marin Cilic

Alexander Zverev had the best possible debut to his first-ever Nitto ATP World Tour Finals campaign after he ousted Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 having came from a break down in the final set to triumph. The German put in an encouraging performance which saw him rebound from several frustrating moments, taking the win after two hours and six minutes. Zverev will face Roger Federer in his second Round Robin match while Cilic goes up against Jack Sock.

Perfect start for the youngster

Zverev made the perfect start to his first-ever match in London, prevailing in marathon rallies during the opening game before coming up with an impressive volley winner to grab the first break, with Cilic looking out-of-sorts early on. The German, who is the youngest participant in this year’s competition, then easily consolidated the break for a 2-0 lead, looking in great form. Several powerful serves helped Cilic to finally get on the scoreboard after a slow start, but it was all credits to Zverev who was extremely solid at the baseline.

Alexander Zverev in action during his first-ever London campaign | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Alexander Zverev in action during his first-ever London campaign | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Zverev takes the opening set 6-4

Everything was going right for Zverev — his forehands and serves were all working really well until he committed three consecutive errors from 30-0 up in the fourth game. Nonetheless, he managed to fend off a break point with an ace before narrowly holding onto his service game with a powerful forehand winner on game point.

Cilic started to slowly find his groove with his strong serves making a regular appearance but Zverev was just too solid and did not seem like letting loose any moment despite having to survive a 10-minute service game. Ultimately, the German served out the first set 6-4 with four consecutive unreturnable serves. Cilic was held back by all his errors throughout the set, hitting just three winners along the way as compared to Zverev’s 12.

Alexander Zverev's forehand was firing today | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Alexander Zverev's forehand was firing today | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Cilic fights back and takes the lead in the second set

A slight misfocus for Zverev proved to be costly as the German hit errors after errors, throwing away the break in his opening service game of the second set and gifted Cilic the early lead. The bright start certainly provided the Croatian with some confidence, especially with the little success he had on the return earlier in the match. He then easily consolidated the break for a commanding 3-0 lead despite hitting a double-fault along the way.

Cilic hangs on and seals the second set

The changeover allowed Zverev to regain his composure, and he got onto the scoreboard with a confident service hold despite his inability to find his first serves. However, Cilic was just too strong on his serve and did not allow the German a way back, soon threatening to break serve once more. Nonetheless, some crucial errors while being pressurized at the baseline from the Croatian allowed Zverev to still stay in contention and trail by just a solitary break.

Marin Cilic's backhand was disappointing today | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Marin Cilic's backhand was disappointing today | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Cilic soon powered to a formidable 5-2 lead, being just a game away from closing out the set. Serving to stay in the set, Zverev fended off a set point and narrowly hung onto his service game, lessening the deficit to two games. Although the German stepped up his game, Cilic was still able to serve out the second set and send the match into a decider.

Cilic makes the first breakthrough in the final set

A slew of unforced errors saw Zverev lose a 30-15 lead in the third game of the final set, allowing Cilic to make the first breakthrough as the German started to send everything into the net. The Croatian started to sail through his service games, consolidating the break for a 3-1 lead. He looked in total control of the encounter, with Zverev letting his frustration overwhelm him.

Marin Cilic celebrates winning a point | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Marin Cilic celebrates winning a point | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Zverev produces inspired comeback to take the win

Zverev then escaped from a 0-30 deficit while serving in the fifth game, throwing in some powerful serves to lessen the deficit. Cilic’s monstrous forehands seemed to have sealed the deal for him, but the German came out of nowhere and saved a couple of game points to break back for 3-3.

Comfortable service holds followed and Zverev soon found himself just one game away from the win with Cilic having to serve to stay in the match. A couple of errors gave the German a 0-30 lead before he prevailed in a marathon rally to earn triple match points. The pressure certainly affected the Croatian’s play, with Zverev ultimately taking his first-ever win at the World Tour Finals.