Sock beats Cilic in thriller
Originally published on 14/11/17 00:00
The American showed great tenacity to recover from a break down in the third set to seal his first ever victory at the season-finale – and effectively end the qualification hopes of his opponent.
Sock now has a great to reach the semi-finals, but he admits he is not bothered by other results within the Boris Becker Group. “I don't even know how it all works, if people are tied with the same record,” admitted the 25-year-old.
“I'm just focused on my tennis. I obviously know I have to win. I had to win today, and I’ve got to win my next one if I want to give myself a chance. Everything else is out of my control, whatever happens tonight or on Thursday with everyone.
“I knew that if I did the right things, played some good tennis, I could give myself a chance. That's kind of what I'm here to do.”
There was a lively start to proceedings as early breaks of serve were traded. Both players soon found their rhythm on serve though, and it looked like a tiebreak would be necessary to split the pair.
Serving at 5-5, Cilic enjoyed a slice of good fortune. The 29-year-old clipped the net with a forehand – while down break-point – and the ball trickled over to the other side. Sock stretched every sinew in an effort to extend the rally, but he could not make up the ground in time.
The Croatian made the most of his fortunate luck in the following game. He carved open three set-point chances on his opponent’s delivery and converted the third after the American slammed a forehand into the bottom of the net.
It had been a tidy opening set for Cilic. He unleashed 15 winners and coughed-up just 12 unforced-errors as he moved halfway towards a first victory over Sock at the third attempt.
Sock’s response to falling behind was impressive. He attained a break of serve in the first game of the second set and quickly established baseline supremacy. The 25-year-old came under the microscope in the fourth game, but he saved three break-points before registering a significant hold.
Cilic’s misery was compounded in the following game. He committed three double-faults and ballooned a forehand beyond the baseline to gift his opponent a double-break advantage. The set lost its competitive edge as a consequence, and a decider was soon necessary.
The third set was a thrilling spectacle as both players performed with grit and determination. Cilic was first to strike and move 3-0 ahead, but the hard-working American overcame tiredness to roar back into contention.
A tiebreak was required to settle the outcome, and it proved to be a fitting way end to a closely-fought duel. Cilic made the stronger start, but Sock’s athleticism kept him in touch on the scoreboard.
Trailing 4-3, the American made a lung-busting dart to the net in an effort to chase down a Cilic groundstroke that had clipped the net. The American’s dash paid dividends as he bunted a delightful backhand down the line to pull level.
The crowd saluted Sock’s desire and exquisite touch, and he revelled in the acclaim. The American had the momentum, and he won the next three points to inflict a painful defeat on his rival.