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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, November 12, 2017

 
Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev reeled off five of the last six games rallying past Marin Cilic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, in his World Tour Finals debut.

Photo credit: China Open

LONDON—Playing catch-up for much of the final set, Alexander Zverev deployed a final forward charge to find the finish line.

Rallying from 1-3 down in the decider, Zverev reeled off five of the final six games edging Marin Cilic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, in his ATP World Tour Finals debut.

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Zverev converted four of six break points defeating the Wimbledon runner-up for the fourth straight time. 

The 20-year-old Zverev, who is bidding to become the youngest man to finish in the Top 3 since Novak Djokovic a decade ago, got off to an ideal start carving out a backhand drop volley winner to open the match with a break.

The Montreal champion consolidated convincingly at love for 2-0.

Cilic threatened in the sixth game, but missed a mid-court forehand that would have given him a break point as Zverev worked through a challenging hold for 4-2.

Closing his next two service games with aces, Zverev ran out the set first set in 43 minutes.

The youngest man in the field smacked nine more winners—12 to 3—than Cilic building a one-set lead.

The 2014 US Open champion was 5-13 when losing the first set this season, but Cilic’s confidence was bolstered by three straight love holds in the opening set. He turned up the pace in the second set.

Adopting a bit more aggressive court positioning, Cilic began cranking his forehand with more vigor. Cilic hit six winners compared to one for his opponent in the second set. A jolting forehand forced Zverev into an errant reply off his back foot as Cilic broke for a 2-0 second-set lead.

An ace down the middle capped a love hold for 5-2. Zverev saved a set point with a high forehand volley forcing Cilic to serve it out. The fifth-ranked Croatian complied closing the 37-minute second set to force a decider.

Picking at his strings between points Zverev pasted his best shot—the two-handed backhand—into net to face a break point punctuating the miss pounding his palm against his racquet face. Jittery tension erupted with another netted backhand as Zverev gifted the break and a 2-1 third-set lead to Cilic.

Lobbing the 6’6” Cilic is about as easy as leapfrogging the chair umpire’s high chair. But Zverev pulled it off with a rainbow lob that the leaping Croatian framed as the German broke back with a massive fist pump and loud primal scream for 3-all.




Zverev stuck a forehand off the edge of the sideline for love-30 in the 10th game. Cilic took a deep breath, but couldn’t stop the young German's forward charge. Zverev zapped his 10th backhand winner of the match for triple match point.

Following a forehand forward, he knocked off a forehand volley closing emphatically in two hours, four minutes.

The winner of five ATP titles this season, including defeating Roger Federer in the Montreal final, Zverev is bidding to become the first World Tour Finals debutant to lift the title trophy since Alex Corretja back in 1998.

Zverev and Federer, who opened today's singles play with a 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Jack Sock, will square off on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

 

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