Zverev makes flying start
Originally published on 12/11/17 00:00
Just when it looked like the Croatian was closing in on a second ever victory at the season-finale, the young German raised his level and romped over the finishing line.
Zverev is attempting to become the youngest player to finish inside the Top 3 since Novak Djokovic ten years ago, and he remains on course to achieve his objective.
It was a hard-earned success for the German, but he managed to extend his winning run against Cilic to four matches. It’s also a seventh Top 10 triumph of the campaign for the least experienced player involved in the ATP’s blue ribbon event – and he will encounter Roger Federer on Tuesday.
Despite being located in the world No.3 position – and deservedly being labelled the best of the rest – Zverev has been out of sorts in recent months.
He has not quite achieved the results expected since bagging his second Masters title in Montreal – and a second round exit in Paris did little to help his London aspirations.
The 20-year-old was highly efficient in the opener however his level dipped considerably in the second set. He allowed Cilic to dictate proceedings from the baseline and his lead quickly vanished as a consequence.
The Croatian was in the ascendancy and he deservedly moved a break ahead after this rival netted a regulation backhand. Zverev was tumbling towards an unexpected defeat, but a change in approach – and attitude – saw the match flip in his favour.
Zverev’s forehand had been posted missing after the first set, but it became his prized weapon in the latter stages. The German unsettled Cilic with his aggressive style and soon wrestled back control.
From the moment the world No.3 flicked a delightful lob over his sprawling opponent to break back for 3-3, the outcome was never in doubt.
"The last game I didn't serve well," admitted the downbeat Croatian. "I was, I would say, a better player from the beginning of the second set till the middle part of the third set. I was in control and he was struggling to find solutions to get back in the game.
"It's just a little bit unfortunate to lose it towards the end."