On Monday, group A produced four breakstick sets and two matches lasting less than one hour. It is very rare to see such one-sided matches on the ATP tour, particularly at a tournament of this calibre. Here are recaps from Monday and previews looking ahead to the second set of matches from group A on Wednesday with Berdych v Cilic at 2pm and Djokovic v Wawrinka at 8pm.
Recaps from Monday
Wawrinka d. Berdych, 6-1 6-1: Berdych labelled this match as his worst of the year. It’s no wonder when you look at his statistics. Berdych hit four winners to 20 unforced errors with three of those winners coming off aces. On the other hand, Wawrinka played a very solid match, which came as a surprise following a miserable run of form since the US Open. He has put himself in a great position to qualify for the semi-finals and seems to thrive on this indoor court, having played well to reach the semi-finals last year.
Djokovic d. Cilic, 6-1 6-1: Cilic made a really promising start, holding his first service game and then pushing the world number one to deuce in the next game. However Djokovic then went on to win eight games in a row, producing some delightful passing shots. Cilic hit far too many errors and was overwhelmed by Djokovic’s consistency from the baseline. Cilic briefly threatened to make a comeback in the second set breaking Djokovic’s serve at 6-1 2-0, but he wouldn’t win another game from there as Djokovic eased to his first victory of the tournament.
Previews for Wednesday
Cilic v Berdych: Both facing a mountain to qualify by virtue of winning just two games in their first match, this is a must-win match for Cilic and Berdych. The pair have played each other three times in 2014; Berdych won their first match in Rotterdam, but Cilic has won their last two in straight sets and on the big stage at Wimbledon (7-6(5) 6-4 7-6(6), R3) and at the US Open (6-2 6-4 7-6(4), QF). It’s hard to judge a winner after both played well below their best on Monday, but i’d have to give the edge to Marin.
Prediction: Cilic d Berdych in 2 sets
Djokovic v Wawrinka: I’m pleased to see the top two seeds in group A get the night match so I can watch it! I was surprised to realise this is the first time they will play each other since the Australian Open. Wawrinka beat Djokovic 2-6 6-4 6-2 3-6 9-7 in the quarter-finals en route to winning his first Grand Slam title. This win snapped a 14 match losing streak to Djokovic. Despite his recent poor form, Wawrinka knows how to turn it on against the best players and he is always capable of producing a great match. However, Djokovic has been so steady and assured of late that I would back the Serb to come through in straight sets.
Prediction: Djokovic d. Wawrinka in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)