By Ros Satar at the O2, London

  • Grigor Dimitrov [6] v David Goffin [7]
  • Dominic Thiem [4] v Pablo Carreno Busta [Alt]
LONDON, UK – Although it was no real surprise that Rafael Nadal had to ultimately withdraw from the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals, Group Pete Sampras now looks wide open.

 

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Grigor Dimitrov [6] v David Goffin [7] | Dimitrov leads 3-1

One winner some would have expected, one winner few would have, but the two winners of Group Pete Sampras go head to head for their best chance to top the group and qualify for the semi-finals.

Grigor Dimitrov looked very much in charge in his opener against Dominic Thiem on Monday, and although he was taken to three sets by the occasional flashes of brilliance, it was a testament to the consistency and dare we say it, maturity.

David Goffin at the 2017 Nitto ATP World Tour Finals, London

Photo by AP/REX/ Shutterstock
David Goffin at the 2017 Nitto ATP World Tour Finals, London

The pair have met three times this year, all on hard-courts with David Goffin coming off the weaker during Dimitrov’s inspired run at the Australian Open, as well as losing to the Bulgarian at his home tournament in Sofia. Yet the last honours went to the Belgian in their most recent encounter in Rotterdam.

Both players have finished the year at quite a clip. The titles for Goffin in Shenzhen and Tokyo really set him up for his full debut at the World Tour Finals (we think the less we say about his drubbing as an alternate at the hands of Novak Djokovic last year, the better).

That Goffin could recover from the horrific injury he sustained at Roland Garros after tripping on a tarpaulin was impressive in itself. His focus and drive to take the fight to an admittedly physically struggling Rafael Nadal led him to one of the best wins in his career, but it needs to be seen in that context.

This should be a pretty even affair. Neither are particularly big power players, but they both play with an elegant fluid style, and use their court coverage well. The pair have always looked quite evenly matched and their matches have been tight, so we can expect a long afternoon.

It is a tough one to call, and perhaps it might be Goffin that comes down from the thrill of getting his first World No. 1 win, with the edge going to the Bulgarian.

Prediction: Dimitrov in three sets.

 

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Dominic Thiem [4] v Pablo Carreno Busta [Alt]| H2H: 4-0

Dominic Thiem, Paris Masters 2017

Photo by Alfonso Jimenez/REX/Shutterstock | Dominic Thiem, Paris Masters 2017

In the grand scheme of post US Open slumps, Dominic Thiem may have just marginally performed better than alternate Pablo Carreno Busta, and the Austrian will be desperate for a win having been edged in a taut three-setter in his opener.

Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open, 2017

Photo by Juergen Hasenkopf/REX/Shutterstock | Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open, 2017

Carreno Busta, whose run to the US Open helped propel him into contention to qualify in his own right managed to kibosh that with a very mediocre Asian and Indoor European run.

In terms of style of play, Thiem (when in form) can attack and defend well and is consistently solid off both sides, and will happily build up his points with long baseline rallies. Indeed he had the better of the Spaniard in their one encounter this year in the Rio de Janeiro final.

Carreno Busta has been steadily consistent, and was rewarded with a strong performance late in the year, but has found it hard to capitalise on that. He will, in time, need to back that up with more hardy results in the big tournaments next year, especially if some of the Top Ten who have been wounded in action return to the fray and up the rankings quickly.

Take nothing away from the Spaniard. He is a hard worker, and similar to Thiem in his point construction, so do not expect this to be a flashy and fast two-setter.

Prediction: Thiem in three sets.

Dimitrov and Goffin are scheduled not before 2pm, with Thiem and Carreno Busta not before 8pm.

Main Image: Photo by Ella Ling/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

 

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