Novak Djokovic warms up for semi-finals with impressive Marin Cilic victory at ATP Finals in London
Djokovic to meet Kevin Anderson in Saturday's second semi-final during evening session from 8pm, live on Sky Sports Arena.
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 07/12/18 10:27am
Novak Djokovic maintained his unbeaten record at this year’s ATP Finals with an ominous victory over Marin Cilic.
The five-time champion at the season-ending tournament had already assured top spot in Group Guga Kuerten and prepared for his semi-final match against Kevin Anderson with a 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 victory at The O2.
Djokovic has now lost only two of his last 36 matches since the start of Wimbledon but faced a determined opponent in Cilic, despite the Croat being unable to progress following Alexander Zverev's win against John Isner.
Both players began the match in assured fashion before an eight-minute long sixth game on Cilic's serve, which the 2014 US Open champion held after saving a break point.
Cilic, who will lead Croatia in the Davis Cup final against France next week, had pushed Djokovic the distance at the Paris Masters in their most recent meeting and asked questions of the world No 1 with his powerful forehand.
Both players remained assured behind serve, especially Djokovic who lost only two points, to bring up a tiebreak - the fourth of the week for Cilic.
But once again this week he came out worse as Djokovic saved a set point before sealing the opener after 55 minutes of absorbing tennis.
Cilic faced an early challenge on his serve in the opening game of the second set but frustrated Djokovic by saving three break points to avoid an immediate negative reaction to losing the first set in tight fashion.
Dominant Djokovic on song
Novak Djokovic lost only five points on his serve in 11 games.
Djokovic saw a run of 31 consecutive points on serve come to an end with a Cilic forehand winner but he overcame the moment of difficulty before his relentless consistency forced his opponent into some errors to secure his first break of the match.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion maintained the pressure on Cilic to secure a second break in the seventh game and closed out victory with a backhand winner to send a statement of intent to his rivals.
Shot of the match
"Djokovic in a nutshell. Look at the effort he made there. The ground he covered and the shot he produced," said Sky Sports commenator Barry Millns.
Peter Fleming added: "The question I often hear these days is, 'is Djokovic playing as well as he ever has?' Maybe the answer is not yet but boy is he close. Present him with the right circumstances and I think he would be there."
Djokovic: Preparations difficult
"It wasn't easy in a way to approach this match with 100% willingness to win it but I have been in similar positions before," Djokovic told Sky Sports' Annabel Croft.
"This format is unique in the group stages where these things can happen.
"Both of us really wanted to win from the first point and it was a very close first set that decided the match."
Djokovic really played within himself and still won convincingly in straight sets. That says a lot for the sort of tennis he has been playing. It was quite incredible. [Marin] Cilic played about as well as he could in that first set but Djokovic gets it and then in the second set Djokovic goes from strength to strength. Absolutely brilliant – what a performance.
Djokovic will face Anderson in a repeat of their Wimbledon final on Saturday evening (8pm) exclusively live on Sky Sports Arena.
The first semi-final of the day will see six-time champion Roger Federer face Zverev on Saturday afternoon from 2pm.
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