Tennis News • Upset City • Nitto ATP Finals In London Takes Another Turn As Goffin Stuns Federer

Written by: on 18th November 2017
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Goffin and Federer
Tennis News • Upset City • Nitto ATP Finals In London Takes Another Turn As Goffin Stuns Federer  |

By Ricky Dimon

Going into the semis of the eight-man Nitto ATP Finals, the three bottom seeds remained. Of the top five, only Roger Federer was still alive. Now he is gone, too.

David Goffin pulled off the biggest upset of what was already a surprising tournament–and one of the biggest of the entire year–when he stunned Federer 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday afternoon. The Belgian caught fire from just about out of nowhere in the second and third sets to earn his first-ever victory over his childhood idol after one hour and 45 minutes.

Goffin had previously been 0-6 lifetime against Federer, including 2-14 in 16 total sets. The underdog just lost–and “lost” may be putting generously–6-1, 6-2 three weeks ago in Basel. Following a 33-minute first set in London, it seemed like a near certainty that more of the same was continuing.

But it wasn’t.

The tide started to turn with Federer serving in the second game of set two. Although the 36-year-old had three game points to hold, Goffin eventually broke for a quick 2-0 advantage. The world No. 8 held the rest of the way, surviving one deuce at 3-1 and saving one break point at 4-2 before holding impressively to love at 5-3.

Amazingly enough, one early break was also enough for Goffin in the third. The in-form Shenzhen and Tokyo champion struck for a 2-1 advantage and then battled through a nervy service game that included another break point as he extended his lead to 3-1.

If there were any nerves down the stretch, Goffin showed no sign of them. Firing aces and service winners that belied his 5’11”, 150-pound frame, the 26-year-old dropped only one point in his last three service games.

“It was good there [is a video screen during] the changeover,” Goffin explained. “I was more relaxed so I didn’t think about the first point or the game I have to play. I was watching the highlights of the previous game. I was a little bit more relaxed. As soon as the chair umpire said, ‘time,’ I was ready with the ball. I didn’t have time to think about what I have to do. I served an ace. When you start the game with an ace, it’s always better.”

Goffin, who insisted beforehand that he was “going to try something different; something that I’ve never done in the past,” was far better than he was against Federer in Basel. But did he actually have a different plan?

“Yeah,” said Federer. “He played better. That was a good plan.”

Aside from a round-robin loss to Grigor Dimitrov, Goffin has been playing arguably better than ever this week. In fact, he has been so good that he has bagged not one but two self-proclaimed career-best wins in the span of six days. The first came at the expense of world No. 1 Rafael Nadal on Monday night.

“Both are really special,” London’s No. 7 seed assured. “It was the first time against Rafa. Then (I reached) the semifinal for the first time here, and to beat Roger for the first time here in such a big event, big tournament, it was [a] perfect moment. It is the best win of my career, for sure.”

Now he will play for the biggest title of his career, against either Dimitrov or Jack Sock. Yes, the last ATP match of the season is either Goffin vs. Dimitrov or Goffin vs. Sock. In a year dominated by Nadal and Federer, the script was flipped just before the final curtain.

Ricky contributes to
 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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