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Djokovic vs Cilic ATP Paris Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: In-form Djokovic looks to reassert dominance over Cilic

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 2 Nov 2018
  • Novak Djokovic vs Marin Cilic is live from Paris on Friday, 2 November from 7:30pm local time/ 6:30pm GMT
  • Djokovic leads 15-2 on head-to-head, but Cilic has won two of the last three meetings
Novak Djokovic. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Soon-to-be world No. 1, Novak Djokovic takes on Marin Cilic on Friday as the Serbian continues his quest for a fifth Paris Masters title.

Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from the Paris Masters ensured that Djokovic will return to No. 1 when the rankings are updated next Monday, and wouldn't the Serbian love to celebrate that with another Paris crown?

Cilic will have other ideas though, as the Croatian goes after the win that will mathematically confirm his participation at the Nitto ATP Finals. He will have his work cut out, as he takes on a white-hot Djokovic, who can seemingly do no wrong at the moment.

By beating Joao Sousa and Damir Dzumhur in his opening couple of matches, Djokovic has stretched his winning streak to 20 matches, while he has now won 30 consecutive sets, a new personal best.

The Serbian had a hard time putting away the admirably stubborn Joao Sousa in the opening set, but once he pipped the Portuguese to the post in that first set, he sucked a great degree of fight out of Sousa, like he always does, and ran away with the match in the second, 7-5 6-1, it ended. He then profited from a retirement from Damir Dzumhur in the third round to move into the quarters.

Bosnia's Dzumhur has done superbly well to eliminate Stefanos Tsitsipas in his own second round, beating the Greek young gun with his solidity from the back of the court, and a clever, calculated offense. Unfortunately for him, he ran into Novak Djokovic, the master of the aforementioned skills, in the third round. A healthy Dzumhur would most likely still have struggled against this Djokovic, but an injured Dzumhur stood no chance, and he wisely called it quits at 6-1 2-1. 

This Djokovic is a reincarnation of the 2011 and 2015 versions- one that many feared would never show up again after his problematic start to the season.

After missing the second half of last year due to an elbow problem, Djokovic struggled badly at the start of 2018, going 6-6 between the Australian Open and the Madrid Open. He had undergone minor surgery on his troublesome elbow after a fourth-round loss to Hyeon Chung in Melbourne. Things started looking up again towards the end of the clay court season, which coincided with his reunion with Marian Vajda, and by Wimbledon, the real Novak Djokovic had resurfaced. 

He has left the rest of the tour in his wake, winning 29 of 30 matches since the start of Wimbledon, and currently striding away on a 20-match winning streak. Can Marin Cilic apply the breaks in Paris on Friday?

After a few ordinary weeks, Cilic has rediscovered some form in Paris, beating Philipp Kohlschreiber and Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets to advance to the quarter finals for the third straight year. Before arriving Paris, the Croatian had won just one of four matches, suffering opening round defeats in Tokyo and Shanghai and going just one round better in Basel.

Marin Cilic. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
That had hurt his London hopes, but he has snapped out of that poor run in Paris, and now stands just one win away from guaranteeing his presence at the showpiece event. The only complication is that that one win must be against Novak Djokovic.

While he could, maybe should have done better, Cilic has had an OK season. He won his only title of the season so far at Queen's, beating Djokovic in the final; got to the final of the Australian Open, and made quarter finals at Roland Garros and the US Open. Cilic also made semi-finals in Rome, Cincinnati and Pune, and has built up a 41-17 record for the year.

The head-to-head against Djokovic is mightily in favour of Serbian, who has won 15 of their 17 encounters, but Cilic's two wins have come within the last three matches, starting off with a 6-4 7-6 win at the Paris Masters in 2016- a result that effectively ended Djokovic's most recent spell at No. 1. 

So maybe a little score to settle...

"I had a very good head-to-head record [against Marin] until that match a few years ago here," said Djokovic. "He likes playing indoors. Obviously he has a big serve and a big game from back of the court. It's just a very powerful style of tennis".

Cilic cannot afford to hang around the baseline with Djokovic, and he'll know that being aggressive and going for his shots is the only way he can win this match. He's definitely got the firepower to hurt Djokovic, but all of those weapons, from the serve to the groundstrokes, have got to be in prime shape.

Even then, it still may not be good enough. Such is the level at which Djokovic is operating at the moment...

Novak Djokovic vs Marin Cilic is live from Paris on Friday, 2 November from 7:30pm local time/ 6:30pm GMT

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Djokovic vs Cilic ATP Paris Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: In-form Djokovic looks to reassert dominance over Cilic

Novak Djokovic takes on Marin Cilic in the quarter finals of the Paris Masters on Friday. Will the four-time champion take down the dangerous Croatian? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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