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Dimitrov Outlasts Goffin In Nitto ATP World Tour Finals• The Championship Match For Biggest Title Of His Career

Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov celebrates with his trophy after defeating Belgium’s David Goffin in their singles final match at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament in London, Britain, 19 November 2017. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL



By Ricky Dimon


Grigor Dimitrov is going to finish the 2017 campaign ranked No. 3 in the world behind only Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. With Nadal and Federer already eliminated from the Nitto ATP Finals, the title was Dimitrov’s to win or lose.


He won it.


Putting an exclamation point on best year of his career with his most important title, the world No. 6 outlasted David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the London final on Sunday night. Both men were competing in the biggest final of their careers, and it was Dimitrov who survived a spirited attack by Goffin after two and half hours.


It was–thankfully for the O2 Arena faithful–a far cry from had transpired between Dimitrov and Goffin just four days earlier. In a Wednesday afternoon round-robin tussle, Dimitrov routed Goffin 6-0, 6-2 in less than half the time (one hour and 13 minutes) it took for him to finish off Goffin in the final. A much different Belgian showed up on Sunday, clearly taking confidence from having scored his first-ever victory over Federer via a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 decision in the semifinals. That made Goffin just the sixth player in history to defeat both Nadal and Federer in the same event.


The previous five combined to accomplish the Nadal-Federer double on 11 occaions, and all 11 times they went home with the winner’s trophy. Goffin almost made it 12 for 12.


With momentum in his pocket after leveling the match at a set apiece, the world No. 8 made a push to take control early in the third. Goffin generated four break points, but he sent a backhand past the baseline on one and watched Dimitrov hit three unreturned serves on the others. Goffin saved a break point, himself, in the next game before the final turning point came at 2-3. Dimitrov missed a break opportunity at 30-40, fought off two game points, and then broke for 4-2 on his second opportunity when Goffin erred on a backhand.


Still, there was more in the offing. Goffin somehow managed to survive a triple match point situation at 2-5, 0-40. He ended up taking five consecutive points to hold before saving a fourth championship point with a forehand winner at 5-4, 40-15. Dimitrov finally crossed the finish line on his fifth opportunity, when he scrambled to track down a Goffin approach shot and saw his adversary dump the ensuing backhand drop-volley in the net.


“Obviously (I was) a little nervous towards the end of the match, which is I think quite normal,” Dimitrov admitted.


And why not? Of his seven previous titles, only one was of the Masters 1000 ilk to go along with two 500s.


“It’s a special event,” Dimitrov said of the Nitto ATP Finals. “I mean, you don’t get the chance to play that…well, sometimes you get the chance to play that every year…but sometimes you don’t. For me, the way that the year has been, I felt I deserved to be here.”


Goffin felt the same way for himself–especially after upsetting Nadal and Federer earlier in the event–but pointed out that his opponent deserved it, too.


“I think I deserve the win today, of course,” Goffin commented. “But Grigor, also, he deserves the win. He was unbeatable this week. He played really great tennis; was really solid from the first match until the end. So he deserves completely to be here and to win the tournament. Even if I won against Rafa and Roger, I lost the final. But, anyway, it was a great week. I have no regrets after that match.”


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


Editors Note: Alex sends out a “Hello” to his Bulgarian friend from WIMBLEDON 2017. “Meti” we all sure hope you got to see Grigor play in person…

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