Djokovic eas­ily takes out cilic in world tour

JoongAng Daily - - Sports - AP

Two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion No­vak Djokovic ex­tended his in­door win­ning streak with an im­pres­sive 6-1, 6-1 win over Marin Cilic Mon­day in his open­ing round-robin match at the ATP World Tour Fi­nals, after Stan Wawrinka put his re­cent strug­gles be­hind him with an equally com­fort­able vic­tory.

Djokovic moved two wins away from seal­ing the year-end No. 1 spot, and im­proved his record against the U.S. Open cham­pion to 11-0 with a dom­i­nant dis­play that lasted only 56 min­utes.

The O2 Arena crowd was treated to sev­eral stun­ning ral­lies in the open­ing stages, with Djokovic com­ing out on top on ev­ery im­por­tant point. The topranked Serb has now won his last 28 matches in­doors, a streak go­ing back more than two years.

“I give my­self a lot of time to pre­pare for th­ese events, for in­door tour­na­ments. I en­joy them,’’ Djokovic said. “Con­sid­er­ing how long the sea­son is, every­body is men­tally, phys­i­cally, emotionally tired and ex­hausted. But this is where you have to find your last drop of strength and mo­ti­va­tion to fin­ish off the year in style.’’

The top-ranked Serb will next take on Wawrinka, who made the most of To­mas Berdych’s er­ror-laced per­for­mance in a 6-1, 6-1 win ear­lier Mon­day.

Djokovic read Cilic’s serve well and broke at love for a 4-1 lead after hit­ting two sump­tu­ous fore­hand pass­ing shots, then clinched the set after Cilic buried a back­hand in the net.

After drop­ping his serve im­me­di­ately at the start of the sec­ond set, Cilic broke back to stay in the match but his resur­gence was short-lived as Djokovic won the next four games.

“From my own side, it’s my first time be­ing here,’’ said Cilic, one of the three debu­tants in London. “Also, I felt that No­vak played re­ally, re­ally solid to­day. In some matches, the score just keeps run­ning. You are think­ing a lot. You are al­ways try­ing to find some­thing. But what­ever you try, it’s not work­ing.’’

Djokovic, who is bid­ding to fin­ish the sea­son as No. 1 for the third time, will be guar­an­teed the top spot if he wins his re­main­ing two round-robin matches against Wawrinka and Berdych.

Wawrinka was almost as im­pres­sive against Berdych, out­class­ing his Czech op­po­nent with a range of back­hand and vol­ley win­ners. He was also aided by Berdych’s ab­ject dis­play, as the sixth-seeded heavy hit­ter lost his open­ing match at the sea­son-end­ing tour­na­ment for the fifth time in as many at­tempts.

“Un­for­tu­nately, it was my worst match of the whole sea­son, and I kept it for the start here in the World Tour Fi­nals,’’ Berdych said. “I did not feel any­thing good to­day.’’

Wawrinka trav­eled to London with his form in ques­tion after win­ning only two matches since his quar­ter­fi­nal exit at the U.S. Open, and strug­gling to play as freely as he did ear­lier this sea­son.

“My re­cent losses re­ally hurt me,’’ said the Aus­tralian Open cham­pion, who also won his first Masters ti­tle at Monte Carlo this year. “But I kept work­ing hard at train­ing and I never pan­icked. I knew my game was there. It was more the men­tal side that I needed to im­prove.’’

Wawrinka im­me­di­ately put Berdych on the back foot, win­ning five con­sec­u­tive games to take the first set after drop­ping only three points on his ser­vice games.

Berdych, who had 20 un­forced er­rors, fought harder at the start of the sec­ond set but dropped his serve after a tight third game and never re­cov­ered.

“When I feel good on the court, I’m ready to beat any­body,’’ said Wawrinka. “But I did not ex­pect to win so eas­ily.’’

After the round-robin stage, the top two fin­ish­ers in each group will ad­vance and Berdych has few il­lu­sions about his chances of pro­gress­ing.

“I’m in the worst pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tion that I can ever be,’’ he said. “I’m go­ing to face Marin or No­vak first, in the end play­ing both of them, and the only chance to qual­ify is to beat them, it’s almost mis­sion im­pos­si­ble.’’

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