Djokovic, Zverev Win Opening Matches at ATP World Tour Finals
(November 12, 2018) Year-end No. 1 Novak Djokovic opened round robin play in the Guga Kuerten Group at the ATP World Finals in London with a 6-4, 6-3 win over John Isner. The American Isner, at 33 is making his debut at the Year-End Championships.
“I got my a** kicked,” Isner said. “That was pretty comprehensive out there. Certainly there are some things I have to try and keep improving and the beauty of this format is I’m definitely still alive. I was the underdog tonight and got beat down pretty good.”
“He’s the best returner I’ve ever faced for sure. I’ve said that before, too.”
The Serbian Djokovic won his 50th match of the year on Monday. “I just prepared myself well for the match and executed everything really, really well,” he said. “But, indeed, I do fell a little less, so to say, pressure coming into the tournament knowing that I secured the world No. 1 spot.” He is seeking his 6th year-end title.
“My results here have been pretty good in the last 10 years. So can’t complain too much. Although it takes a little bit of time really to get yourself adjusted to the surface because the surface is a good surface. But, you know, it takes a lot of rotation, takes a lot of spin. When you serve well, also it accelerates through the court.
“You kind of always have to be on alert, be very solid in your core, I would say, to be able to execute your shots well and constantly adjust with your feet to the ball. The surface kind of makes you work more. That’s why probably players feel like it’s a bit tricky, demanding.”
In the day session, a rematch of their first match last year at the ATP World Tour Finals, Alexander Zverev rallied from a break down in both sets to beat Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1). The Croatian is now 1-9 in his career at the year-end event. He made 46 unforced errors during the match.
“The court is difficult,” noted the German. “The court is very fast. And it’s very high bouncing as well. So, it’s more difficult than in other tournaments, so everybody has to kind of find their rhythm in the first match. But at the end of the day, it was a pretty good match in the end.
“I’m happy to get the win. That’s the most important thing. It’s important – this tournament is big. It is very important to all of us players. Everybody wants to do well. It has nothing to do with the Grand Slams here.”
“I had a very good start to the match at 3-love, break-point, 4-1 break-point,” Cilic said. “So I was close to having the double break in the first set. After that, when I lost my serve, I missed a few balls from the – just a couple of unforced errors. Made one double fault and gave him an opportunity to come back and 5-4, also had some chances, love-30 to go 6-4 up and to win that first set.
“But, you know, just after that, I felt that he started to play a bit better. He served towards the end of the set quite good. And the tie-break was tight. I think it could have gone both ways and just generally I felt that I was playing well, just I was not capitalizing on my chances.
“Second set as well, a break up and lost again my serve. So, it was just a bit up-and-down through the match. And in these kind of matches, if you don’t take your chances, that is unfortunately the way it goes.”
Zverev will face Djokovic on Wednesday. “I’m feeling fit physically and mentally. I’m looking forward to that match,” said the 14-time major winner. “Obviously good thing about this tournament is that you have days in between matches, and you’re guaranteed to play three matches in the group. I obviously put myself in a very good position with the group with a straight-sets win.
“Obviously playing Zverev, who also had a straight-sets win today, I look forward to that. It should be a great match. We I think played against each other only twice. We split wins. I played him recently in Shanghai, but wasn’t at his best. I expect him to play better than he did in Shanghai in two days.”