By Ros Satar at the O2, London
- Roger Federer edged past Jack Sock in his opener as he bids for a seventh season-ending title
- Admits there is room for improvement after needing to recuperate following Basel final
LONDON, UK – Roger Federer kept his clean sheet against Jack Sock intact, and Alexander Zverev fought his way to a debut win on Day One of the ATP World Tour Finals.
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Roger Federer  def. Jack Sock  6-4 7-6(4)
World No. 2 and six-time ATP World our Finals champion Roger Federer got off to a winning start, but had to admit that there was room for improvement, as he edged past Jack Sock. Federer, who has never lost a set to Sock, started in the best fashion with an immediate break of serve, and never looking close at relinquishing that lead in the first set.
Federer said, after the match: “Took me long time to recover really, to be honest. I had a very slow week the Paris week. But also, other than the charity match, the Andy Murray Live match in Scotland, I also didn’t do that much.
“I’m happy that I was able to come out today and had actually good energy. This is the best I’ve felt since the del Potro finals. I’m very happy to see that I didn’t have to pay the price for taking it easy, you know, resting, recovering. But then turning it up the last few days got me in shape for today.
“Now I think I’m in the tournament. Now there’s no more turning back. Just full steam ahead every match that comes.”
Sock did not get one look at a breakpoint in Federer’s service game, but showed a little more resilience in the second set as he saved five break points on the way to forcing a second set tie-break.
He admitted: “I don’t think I played too bad of a game. I missed one first serve in the first game. I had my chances. He put me in some awkward positions on some of those forehands. Like the first point, kind of had to pick one direction. He guessed the right way, hit a good shot after.
“Not a whole lot to hang my head about. Obviously, you know, would like to start out with a win instead, especially being right there. It was a couple points. Had some looks to get back on serve in the first. Yeah, he came up with some good shots in the breaker. Other than that, it was a close match.”
With just one mini-break to his name, Federer gathered pace to close out a straight sets win – but at times looked a little rushed, almost anxious in points that really ought to be his bread and butter.
There was a light moment of relief – Sock had the right ideas many times, drop-shotting to bring Federer to the net, but at times his execution lacked bite, one particular sitter that looked almost a dead cert for Federer to drill away, but things did not quite go to plan!
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) November 12, 2017
Federer joked: “It was a big distraction, I’ll tell you that, because it was very big (laughter). That’s what I should have aimed for. That target was bigger than the down-the-line court that I had. It’s happened sometimes in the past, but not on a big stage like this.”
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Alexander Zverev  def. Marin Cilic  6-4, 3-6, 6-4
In the battle of the big hitters, it looked like the future of the ATP was about to give one of the Lost Boys generation a lesson. Roll back three years ago when Marin Cilic stunned many to claim his first Slam title, but could not translate that form here in London, losing all three of his round robin matches.
It looked like the script would be repeating itself as Alexander Zverev broke early to drive through the first set. But it has been a tough end to the year for the young German, who then surrendered an early break to the Croat.
He tried to at least keep in contention, fending off a set point along the way but this pair have built up a tendency to take things to the wire. Into a decider, and it was Cilic that looked the fresher to begin with.
In a tight set with the first two breaks converted on a single point, the momentum was firmly with Zverev, who finished with a flourish, breaking Cilic to love to steal the match.
After the match, Zverev admitted that he had butterflies as the entrance is quite unlike any other tournaments through the year.
“It is different walking on here than any other stadium. The crowd, the atmosphere is amazing. The show before we walk on is something special.
“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. I think the next matches will be not different but from a nervousty [sic] perspective it will be much different for me.”
Group Boris Becker will next play on Tuesday.
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