ATP World Tour Finals: Tuesday Round Robin Preview

Tennis Player Holds Racquet

We take a look at the two Tuesday fixtures in the ATP World Tour Finals taking place at the O2 Arena in London. 

Insinuations made by Rafael Nadal that the season ending event should have been played on clay have put a sting into this season ending event that is really unique in the Roger-Rafa rivalry. Their rivalry has always been characterized by a healthy mutual respect. This observation by Rafa- especially in the wake of five consecutive defeats to Roger- has just added a level of tension below the surface that has added further frisson to proceedings.

Federer looked serene against Jack Sock and will be hoping to book his semi-final place with a match against fellow first round winner Alex Zverev. The belligerent Sock will need to draw on all that American impudence to overcome fellow first round loser Marin Cilic.

Roger Federer 2/9 | Alexander Zverev 29/10 
This is an interesting one. Federer certainly had the easiest first round encounter, with an efficient straight sets victory over Jack Sock. Alex Zverev won a three-set thriller against Marin Cilic, a wonderful baptism for the World Tour Final rookie. The German improved his year win loss record to 55/20 and he comes up against a man who he will feel quietly confident against.

While Roger improved his phenomenal 2017 win/loss record to 50/4, he comes up against a man who he currently holds a 2/2 head-to-head record against. Furthermore, Zverev beat Federer the last time these two met on the Canadian hardcourts. Federer was dealing with some nagging back issues at the time, but Zverev was actually rather dominant in a frightening performance that seemed to indicate a changing of the guard: the moment when the ‘Next-Gen’ finally became the…Gen, I guess. 

But things have changed since then. Perhaps feeling the heat of a congested schedule, the young Zverev has really blown hot and cold since Canada. He has a 7/4 win loss record in his last 11 matches, including a rather embarrassing defeat to Robin Haase in Paris. Federer has won his last 11 consecutive matches and seems to be benefiting hugely from his truncated schedule. I fancy Roger to dismantle the young German in front of yet another adoring crowd in London.

Verdict: Roger Federer 2/9

Marin Cilic 7/10 | Jack Sock 11/10
Croatian Cilic is making his third appearance at the season ending Tour Finals and put up a fantastic fight in that heart-stopping opening encounter against Zverev. He comes up against perhaps the luckiest man ever to attend this season-ending showpiece. Not only does one have to consider the continued absence of Murray, Djokovic, Nishikori and Wawrinka, but just look at the inaugural Masters 1000 victory that catapulted Sock to the finals. Has a player ever won a Masters 1000 series against such an illustrious line-up? It reads: Edmund, Pouille, Verdasco, Benneteau and Krajinovic.

Having said that, Sock was not without his admirers in that first match. His big-serving game will always be dangerous on these indoor hardcourts. The crowd seemed to take a liking to his enigmatic court presence and you can expect him to be the crowd darling against Cilic. Perhaps it’s a combination of his hyper intensity and occasionally overblown ball bouncing rituals, but the Croat often seems to be painted as the villain of the piece.

Cilic’s head-to-head record against his fellow group members worsened to 2/13 after that defeat to Zverev. He has lost both matches to Sock, with both defeats coming on the hardcourts last season. So perhaps this represents a real opportunity for Sock to continue his obstinate defiance of expectations. Cilic must have exhausted a degree of his physical and emotional reserves in that opening defeat.

Verdict: Jack Sock 11/10

Double tipped at 15/10

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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