By Ros Satar at the O2, London

LONDON, UK – Grigor Dimitrov beat David Goffin in three sets to claim the season-ending title, as well as rising to World No. 3.

 

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Grigor Dimitrov [6] def. David Goffin [7] 7-5 4-6 6-3

There was a lot on the line for either of the two first-time qualifiers in the finals of the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time in history (since 1970). Grigor Dimitrov had been the most impressive on the way into the finals, not losing a single match.

David Goffin had been equally impressive in his own way – he got career first time wins over both World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and World No. 2 Roger Federer. Admittedly he got battered off the court in his second round robin match against Dimitrov, but in facing him in the final, it was a different story.

David Goffin at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, London

Photo by WILL OLIVER/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock | David Goffin at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, London

With Goffin the first to hold serve a break ahead, and in a marked contrast to their last encounter at the O2, Goffin looked at the start as if he would be the one to dominate the match. but is foolhardy to write off Dimitrov who turned around his 2-4 to threaten Goffin’s serve to break for the first set.

He had to work for it – finally converting on his fifth set point to send a body blow to Goffin. Yet the Belgian did not drop his head, with the first five games being very competitive. The first of the break point chances came Dimitrov’s way, but Goffin fended that off to keep his hand in the game.

He got his reward a few moments later with a break of Dimitrov’s serve, serving the set later out to love as Dimitrov looked a little listless towards the end of the set.

Photo by Ella Ling/BPI/REX/Shutterstock | Grigor Dimitrov at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, London

Goffin, whose record in 2017 on deciding sets stands at 22-5, started the set the more aggressively immediately putting the Bulgarian under pressure – Dimitrov fending off four break points in an 11-minute opening hold.

Dimitrov had a single chance to go break himself, with Goffin rescuing himself with some big serves. But there was to be one more momentum shift, as Goffin started to look tired, and Dimitrov secured a break.

With three match points in hand, there was some spirited defence from Goffin to delay the inevitable, turning to whip up the crowd.

With Dimitrov having to try and serve this out, he pulled up his fourth and fifth championship and Goffin’s all too casual chip volley into the net was enough to send Dimitrov face down to the floor in relief.

With their run to the final alone, the pair are guaranteed career highs – Dimitrov rises to No. 3 in world, with Goffin moving to No. 7 in the world, and of course still has the Davis Cup final to go.

‘I needed the struggle’

For Dimitrov, the struggle has been reel. After climbing up the rankings, his drop to around World No. 40 was a wake-up call for the Bulgarian.

He said: “What was I, like 43, 44, 45? No, there I was thinking, How can I put it together,
put three balls in the court? But again, with the right set of mind, with the right
people, with the right support, things happen. For me, that period really helped me a lot. I think I needed that. And I appreciate those, like, six, seven
months that were a complete struggle for me.

“I appreciate them in a way that, I mean, only yourself if you’ve been through that you would understand that. In that particular moment, I really realised what I really need to work on, who are the real people around me, who really counts on me, who matters to me.

“There’s so many lessons that I took out of that period that everything else, what I did, every little step that I took every day, you know, towards the good, it felt like a great day. Little by little, yeah, drop by drop, here I am.”

 

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