By Ros Satar, at the O2 – London
- Six-time champion Roger Federer makes his return to the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals as he closes out the day session on Day 1
- Alexander Zverev makes his debut in the evening session.
LONDON, UK – Roger Federer will be the headliner for Day 1 of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals, with Alexander Zverev looking to make his mark in the night session.
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Roger Federer  v Jack Sock  | H2H: Federer leads 3-0
Fans with the day session tickets to open the 2017 ATP World Tour Finals will be in for a treat – certainly if they are Roger Federer fans – as the six-time champion starts his campaign for a seventh bit of season-ending hardware.
First up though, he faces the tail-end Charlie who made it into the field right down to the wire, Jack Sock. The American’s first Masters title in Paris gave him a golden ticket to make the London line-up but it is a tough start on his debit.
Sock is on the wrong end of the head to head, and he faced Federer earlier this year in Indian Wells. After being hopelessly outclassed in the first set he looked as though he might get his first set off Federer, only to run out of steam in the tie-break.
Is he likely to take his first set off the Swiss? He looked pretty spent after coming back from a set down in the Paris Masters final to claim his first 1000-level title, and let’s not forget Federer comes in fresh, as he explained in his press conference ahead of the tournament, on Saturday.
“Every year feels different. everybody I think feels the same way here about this tournament. One more push, then it’s over. And especially – like in a Masters 1000 sometimes we play five in a row, [here] it’s like you play, one day off, play, one day off.
“It’s much easier to push extra every single match whereas when you play every single day, it can really get to you, one you make it to the quarters or something.
“I am fresh, yes, but I think previous years also I felt great coming into the World Tour Finals. That’s why I’ve played as well as I have over the years at this event.”
As for Sock, he actually pipped compatriot Sam Querrey to the post, and looks to be ready to enjoy the experience.
“It’s a special moment, for sure to have been able to sneak in. Being patriotic, I wish some of my friends were here. I’m excited for the week.”
Is the American likely to get a set off Federer? History would say not. Federer looked to be moving well and sharp as a pin when he ventured up north to the Land of the Deep Fried Mars Bars, joining Andy Murray in his charity exhibition in Glasgow, and in all honesty with the Brit looking understandably a little rusty, Federer did not have to do too much to get the win.
The surface is one that suits the Swiss, and his familiarity with the environment here puts him at an immediate advantage.
Prediction: Federer in two sets.
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Alexander Zverev  v Marin Cilic  | Zverev leads 3-1
While the day session might be over quicker than you can say ‘save me a place in the Nando’s queue’ at the O2, the night session could be a tighter match to signify Alexander Zverev‘s debut at the World Tour Finals.
Marin Cilic made his debut here off the back of his win at the US open, but struggled to make an impact, losing all his round robin matches. With a second Slam final under his belt, and his closing run at the end of the season has looked pretty impressive.
He said: “The year has been pretty brilliant for me. I have found it in me to play at a good level every week. That’s given me a lot of confidence and belief when playing thee top guys. My mental approach is different this year, I feel more confident and believe I’m more belief that I can produce good tennis and not putting myself under big stress.
Trying to play day by day. There are a few guys playing for the first time, that can be an advantage for me. It’s very important for me. There’s a lot can move me up and down the rankings.”
While it has been a while since he has been in this position, it is all a little shiny and new for Zverev, as he looks to start ruffling a few of the more established feathers.
“I’ve had a great season. Winning two Masters series is special for anyone. Particularly after the Big Four dominating and no one winning two in one year other than them for 10 years.
“This is a different tournament compared to any other. We get very special treatment here. Everything is unbelievably nice for us, everyone friendly. The stadium is very special for all of us. An indoor event is always louder and more electric. I think this one is even more special.”
Their matches in the past have been pretty close, and we can expect some hard hitting from two tall units. Cilic knows he can expect to be made to battle hard, as he explained:
“All those matches were pretty close. Alex is playing really good tennis, striking the ball big and serving well. From my own side I need to serve well and use my own game to my advantage and not let him control. We are both big guys, the guy who’s winning it is who’s returning slightly better. The focus has to be really high from the beginning.”
Although Cilic has the experience, Zverev’s aggressive style and his precision marks him out for a winning debut.
Prediction: Zverev in three sets.
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