10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Grigor Dimitrov Bagels David Goffin • Tennis @ The ATP Nitto Championships

David Goffin (R) of Belgium congratulates winner Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria after their round robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament in London, Britain, 15 November 2017. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL



By Richard Pagliaro


LONDON—Streaks of skid marks Grigor Dimitrov left strewn across the service box were remnants of his surge into the semifinals. Playing near-flawless attacking tennis, Dimitrov roared through nine straight games steamrolling David Goffin, 6-0, 6-2, to charge into the World Tour Finals semifinals today.


The first Bulgarian qualifier in the 48-year history of the season-ending event joined six-time champion Roger Federer advancing to the final four.


Dimitrov did it with stylish ruthlessness, defeating Goffin for the fourth time in five Tour-level meetings.


“A few days out of the year, whatever you touch it turns to gold,” Dimitrov said. “I work for those days. It’s a special win, for sure. I’m humbled.”


It was a humbling experience for Goffin, who defeated a gimpy Rafael Nadal for the first time, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4, in his round-robin opener.
Goffin called that match the highlight of his career. He may well have suffered emotional and physical deflation enduring his worst thrashing of the season.The lightest man in the Top 20 relies on his legs and movement to set up for his precise groundstrokes. Goffin, who has been playing with black kinesiology tape snaking around his left knee since the US Open, said he feels physically fit and credited Dimitrov’s performance, rather than knee pain, for the result.


“When you play against Rafa, you have to play two hours and, yeah, 40, 45 minutes. You waste a lot of energy on the court” Goffin said. “You finish really late after treatment. It’s not easy to have a good recovery after a match like that.


“Yeah, it’s not a reason (for the loss). I was feeling great. Physically I’m feeling 100 percent. Yeah, I don’t think it’s because it was a long match against Rafa. It’s just that, yeah, Grigor played well and it was not easy for me today.”


Though the early stages offered entertaining exchanges, this highly-anticipated rematch of the Sofia final was a mismatch.


The sixth-seeded Dimitrov tore through 12 of the first 13 points and terrorized the Belgian’s second serve.


Dimitrov won nine of 10 points played on Goffin’s second serve in the opening set.


The 5’11” Belgian won just five of 25 points played on his second delivery as Dimitrov converted five of 11 break points. Trying to target Dimitrov’s one-handed backhand return, Goffin was often victimized by Dimitrov’s depth, angle and variety.


“Yeah, because first of all I didn’t make a lot of free points with my serve, so he put me a lot of pressure on the second serve,” Goffin said. “Even if I put some first serve, he was returning really well, even on the backhand side with a good slice return.


“Yeah, even when I missed a first serve, I knew I was under pressure. I felt it. I knew that, yeah, it was not easy all the time to play a good second serve because was aggressive. Sometimes he took his forehand when I put the second serve on his backhand. It was not easy. I was under pressure all the time.”
World No. 1 Nadal dropped deeper behind the baseline on return, which gave time for Goffin to construct points.In contrast, Dimitrov was often straddling the baseline and stepping into the court to take second serve returns on the rise.


The Bulgarian brilliantly changed direction down the line off both things, sometimes even creating angles where none existed off shots near the center stripe.


A scorching forehand winner down the line sealed a 27-minute first set in which Dimitrov won 12 of 14 points played on his serve.


Dimitrov double Goffin’s winner output—18 to 9—and won 12 of 17 trips to net.


Goffin finally stopped his slide with a smash holding for the first time for 1-3 in the second set.


Charging through a love hold brought the sixth seed to 5-2.


When Goffin missed his signature shot, the backhand, Dimitrov had his third match point. He closed with a forehand capping a commanding 74-minute rout roaring into his eighth semifinal of the season.

Editors note: Belgium goes into Davis Cup next week with a weary David Goffin leading the team in France. Tennis is played 12 months a year. Everyday of the year. Nights. Weekends. It’s a tough job. “Off Season” what’s that? There’s a day here or there. Or a week here or there. Or a little beach time. We love Davis Cup. We wish format would change. So that the winning team keeps the trophy a whole year and only defends it at the end of the year. Basically they are already in the finals the following year…. The old “challenge” round like tennis used back in the day. (LJ)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *