Cilic vs Isner

Cilic vs Isner, Tennis World Tour Finals 2018 John Isner vs Marin Cilic all matches, with stats on their H2H rivalry. ATP & WTA John Isner head to head tennis a crunch clash with both men in danger of elimination, world #7 Marin Cilic takes on John Isner at the ATP Finals in London.

In a must-win clash, Marin Cilic of Croatia faces off against John Isner in a battle of the big men. Cilic is making his fourth appearance at the season-ending championships, but he has claimed just one win from his previous three visits. Isner, meanwhile, qualified for the first time after a superb year that saw him reach the semifinals at Wimbledon and win the Miami Open in March. But will he be able to inflict more misery on Cilic or will the Croatian claim a second win in London?

This will be the 11th meeting between Cilic and Isner. Cilic leads the head-to-head 7-3 and dominated the rivalry in its early years, winning their first six matches, including a memorable five-set battle in the third round at Wimbledon in 2015. But since Isner scored his first win in Paris two years ago, he has had the better of it, beating Cilic again on the clay in Rome last year and en route to the title in Miami, although Cilic did beat him in straight sets in the first round at Queen’s Club last season.

Last time out
Cilic began his tournament against Alexander Zverev of Germany, ranked two places above him at fifth in the world. It was Cilic who made the better start, breaking early and taking a commanding 5-3 lead in the first set. But he could not take his chances and Zverev battled back to edge the set in a tiebreak. Cilic did well to stay in the match in the second set, forcing a tiebreak. But there Zverev pulled away, winning it 7-1 to wrap up a 7-6, 7-6 victory.

Isner’s debut in London was very much a baptism of fire as he faced reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion and world #1 Novak Djokovic, who has five times won the ATP Finals. Isner was under pressure from the off, having to save break points in his first two service games. He did so but the pressure told in his third as Djokovic broke through. The Serbian did not let up and broke twice more in the second set to seal a comprehensive 6-4, 6-3 win.

How do they match up?
Both Cilic and Isner are at their best when playing aggressive, first-strike tennis and getting on the front foot early could well prove vital in this match. Particularly for Isner, who is unquestionably the least mobile man in the field and will gain little from entering into protracted baseline exchanges. Cilic is rather lighter on his feet, but he is not a defender in the mold of Djokovic or Nishikori and will struggle to contain Isner’s power if he allows the American too much time on the ball.

One suspects that chances to break will prove exceedingly rare in this match. Isner was statistically the best server on tour this year, but one of the worst returners in the top 100, whilst Cilic came in at 10th in the serving leaderboard this season. As a result, being clinical when a chance presents itself and taking full advantage of second serves will be crucial. That may not count in Cilic’s favor with the Croatian currently struggling to find his ruthless streak.

Cilic’s loss to Zverev was just one more in a long line of recent defeats from winning positions for the world #7 in what must be an increasingly frustrating trend. Isner, meanwhile, was simply outclassed by Djokovic in his first match, but he played well when Djokovic let him and should take encouragement from that performance. He should also have enough to get by Cilic if their form in the first round of matches is anything to go by. Expect it to be tight, but for Isner to come through in three.

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