Germany’s rising star Alexander Zverev made a dream debut at the ATP Finals as he battled past Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic in three sets on Sunday evening.
Zverev, who is the youngest Tour Finals qualifier since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008, fought back from a break down in the deciding set to record a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory.
The towering 6ft 6in 20-year-old had already underlined his emergence with five titles this year, extending his winning run over Cilic to four matches as the budding star enthralled spectators at the O2 Arena.
Zverev is bidding to become the first German to end the year in the world’s top three since Boris Becker in 1994, and he made a blistering start by breaking his opponent in a rip-roaring opening game.
The single break of serve was enough for the hard-hitting German as he wrapped up the first set with a confident hold to love.
Former US Open champion Cilic responded in the best possible way by winning the opening three games of the next set before Zverev got on the board, but he was always playing catch-up and it wasn’t long before the 29-year-old set up a deciding set shoot-out.
Cilic made the first breakthrough, but Zverev, the winner of two Masters series trophies this year, responded to level at 3-3.
The growing frustrations of the giant Croat became evidently clear when he served to stay in the match, but it was Zverev’s clean hitting and bravery which proved to be the match-winner.
Shot of the match
For the most part of the second and third set he was the better player, Zverev said in a courtside interview. I was just happy to come back and win. If you have the opportunity to play here you have to take it. We both played well today, but I’m happy to get the win.
It is different walking on here than any other stadium. The crowd, the atmosphere is amazing, Zverev, who revelled on the big stage, told reporters after the late-night finish. There were a lot of nerves involved in my first match. Obviously I’m happy that’s behind me. I’m happy that I won.
Zverev will take on Roger Federer as both winners go head to head in a mouth-watering encounter on Tuesday, while Cilic and Sock meet in the afternoon with both players needing a win to stand any hope of qualification to the semi-finals.
The season-ending extravaganza ATP Finals at London’s O2 in November ends another memorable year which will be covered via our website www.skysports.com/tennis with live blogs and updates as the season reaches its climax.
On the move? Head to our app for mobile devices and iPad, or follow our Twitter account @SkySportsTennis to join in the conversation. Who will win the World Tour Finals this year? Have your say…