At this rate spectators here at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals might start complaining about a lack of value for money. After both singles round-robin matches on the opening day were won in straight sets by the higher-ranked player, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka extended the trend on Monday with two more lightning-quick victories.
Djokovic, the defending champion, needed only 56 minutes to beat Marin Cilic, the US Open champion, which was two minutes less than Wawrinka had taken to brush aside the challenge of Tomas Berdych earlier in the day. The score in both matches was 6-1, 6-1, making them the two most emphatic victories in the six years that the year-end championships have been staged in London.
There was no indication that Djokovic would win so convincingly when Cilic held serve to love in the opening game, but from that moment onwards the Serb took complete control. He won eight games in a row before Cilic finally got back on the scoreboard, breaking to love in the third game of the second set.
Order was quickly restored, however, as Djokovic won the last four games to record his 11th win in 11 meetings with Cilic, who has struggled to repeat his US Open form since his triumph at Flushing Meadows. It was Djokovic’s 28th consecutive victory indoors, though Cilic also has a good record. The 26-year-old Croat has won two indoor titles in 2014 and had lost only one of his previous 17 indoor matches this year.
The win ensured that Djokovic will still be world No 1 at the end of the tournament, though he needs to carry on winning to ensure that he will finish the year as world No 1. Roger Federer can still overtake him as he can earn more points in Switzerland’s Davis Cup final against France next week. Djokovic will continue his quest for a third successive London title against Wawrinka tomorrow.
Wawrinka dropped only five points in winning the first five games against Berdych and then won the last five to complete his victory. It was a timely return to form for the Swiss No 2, given the upcoming Davis Cup final in Lille. Wawrinka arrived having won only one match in the four tournaments he had played since the US Open, though he said he had expected to play well here this week after “a great week of preparation”.
Berdych lamented playing what he described as “my worst match of the whole season”. He said he had felt good mentally and physically going into the match but “today nothing worked out for me”.
Andy Murray’s reputation as the game’s best returner will be given a stern test when he takes on Milos Raonic in his second round-robin match tonight. The 6ft 5in Canadian has a thunderbolt serve and has hit 1,103 aces – bettered only by Ivo Karlovic – in the 66 matches he has played this year.
With Murray and Raonic losing to Kei Nishikori and Federer respectively on the first day, tonight’s meeting could be crucial in determining which two players from the group go through to the semi-finals. If Federer beats Nishikori this afternoon, Murray will have to beat Raonic to keep his chances alive.
Raonic is making his debut here, having enjoyed a fine season whose highlight was his appearance in the Wimbledon semi-finals. The world No 8 has won three of his four matches against Murray. “He obviously serves very well,” Murray said. “That is a huge part of his game. A lot of the guys move well, return well, but if you get a lot of free points on your serve that’s a big bonus. That for me is the major difference in how he has made it here this year. It’s not major changes, it’s gaining experience, playing more matches, playing at the top level consistently.”Reuse content