By Ros Satar at the O2, London
- Roger Federer  v David Goffin  | H2H: Federer leads 6-0
- Grigor Dimitrov  v Jack Sock  | H2H: Sock leads 3-1
LONDON, UK – The Nitto ATP Finals semi-final line-up is set as three main-draw debutants and one old hand prepare to book a berth for Sunday’s final.
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Roger Federer  v David Goffin  | H2H: Federer leads 6-0
Such a commanding head to head over the softly-spoken Belgian can only give Federer confidence, especially in the way he demolished Goffin at their most recent battle in Basel. But there is an interesting wrinkle from that point on. Federer admitted it had taken a lot out of him, as he skipped the Paris Masters before heading to Glasgow to take part in Andy Murray‘s charity event.
Federer has, at times, looked a little scratchy and had to come from a set down against Marin Cilic to end his group stage at 3-0.
Goffin knows it will be a tough ask: “I’ve never found a key to beat Roger. Honestly, I don’t know what to do tomorrow. But I’m going to try something, something different, something that I’ve never done in the past. I will try to do my best to play a better match than in Basel, for sure.
“In Basel, it was not easy. He played well. He didn’t miss. He was really aggressive, as always. He returned so well. I hope that tomorrow he’s not going to play the same match. But I will try something different for sure.”
Goffin may not be the most powerful of players, but he is quick, and despite having had his knee strapped up since the US Open, he insists it is more precautionary than necessary, and watching his movement against Thiem, it certainly does not appear to b an issue.
The key may well once more be in his returns. He is fleet of foot, and agile around the court – in fairness so is Federer but he has looked at times a little vulnerable the longer the rallies have been. So maybe the key for Goffin is patience to build the point and almost bully him from the back of the court.
If Goffin can keep his aggression up, take time away from Federer and above all keep him going from side to side at the back of the court, he may find he has the advantage in the longer exchanges, as had Alexander Zverev in their three-setter.
However, Federer knows he may not get another year like this – and to add a lucky number seven to the season-ending trophy cabinet is now tantalisingly close.
Prediction: Federer in three sets.
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Grigor Dimitrov  v Jack Sock  | H2H: Sock leads 3-1
For Dimitrov, it feels as though he has certainly started to deliver on the promise he showed back in 2014, when he first flirted with the World Top 10. Finishing the year at No. 11 having reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, great things were expected, but things have been a little more turbulent for the Bulgarian over the last few years.
However, since teaming up with Dani Vallverdu, he turned around a rankings slump in 2016, rising back up into the Top 20 after slipping to World No. 40 and since then has steadily progressed. 2017 started well, and broke back into the Top 10 for the first time since February 2015 and has impressed so far on his O2 debut.
Equally impressive has been Jack Sock, who scrambled into the last available spot with his maiden Masters win in Paris, and who stunned World No. 3 Zverev to finish behind Federer in Group Boris Becker.
What might be a little more worrying for Dimitrov is his recent record against the languid and relaxed Nebraskan. Both are momentum players and on their day can impress with flair and pace. Sock especially burned Zverev time and again with dropshots and his touch at the net is solid.
Dimitrov is an all-court player but may have to give up his real estate at the baseline and while he has a consistent serve, Sock could well look to pick up a few points if he can sharpen up his returns.
Sock has been especially effective in mixing up his standard style of aggressive baseliner with some great serve and volley, but his lapse in the middle of his match with Zverev could leave him vulnerable – he will ill afford a similar kind of mental ramble against Dimitrov in this kind of form.
Dimitrov has just seemed to be that bit more consistent this week, and that is allowing for the fact that Sock had to lead off against Federer.
The script will bay for a Dimitrov/Federer final after the disappointment of seeing the World No. 1 Rafael Nadal struggle against David Goffin, and ultimately withdraw from the tournament. A lot will depend on whether Dimitrov can dispatch Pablo Carreno Busta with indecent haste and so put himself in the best possible form for a shot at the final.
Prediction: Dimitrov in three sets.
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