Grigor Dimitrov held his nerves and defeated David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the championship match of the ATP finals on Sunday, claiming his biggest career title and fourth of 2017.
“This makes me even more locked in, more excited about my work, and for what’s to come,” Dimitrov said. “It’s a great platform for me to build on for next year. It’s going to be amazing in the off-season. I know what I have to do in order to do good.”
He became the first player to win in his debut at the ATP Finals in 19 years, since Spaniard Alex Corretja in 1998.
The 26-year-old Dimitrov sobbed on court face down before making his way to the net to shake Goffin’s hand.
Dimitrov had destroyed his good friend Goffin in the round robin, dropping just two games. But Sunday, it was a totally different match.
A nervy start saw three straight breaks of serve before Goffin held the edge, then went up 4-2. Dimitrov roared back winning five of the next six games, breaking Goffin for the set.
Paced by his serve, the Belgian settled down in the second set, then broke Dimitrov to go up 4-3, and that was all he needed.
With the momentum Goffin held break chances in Dimitrov’s opening service game of the third, but was unable to cash in. And that proved costly.
Dimitrov eventually broke to go up 4-3, squandered three match points with Goffin serving 3-5, 0-40 before serving it out.
“I really had to dig deep, especially in that first set, which I thought was the key,” Dimitrov said.
“I knew that David is going to try something new. He had to be aggressive so he doesn’t let me play my game,” he added. “Obviously a little nervous towards the end of the match, which is I think quite normal. But again, I’m over that hurdle. I’m very happy just to finish strong.”
The Belgian had beaten Roger Federer in the semifinals and earlier Rafael Nadal during a career week. He’ll finish No. 7 in the rankings.
“I proved to myself that I’m in the right place, and I deserve to be here in this tournament,” said Goffin, who will finish at a career-high No. 7, and has the Davis Cup final for Belgium ahead of him. “Then match after match, I took more confidence until the final. “So I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, even if I’m disappointed about the final.”
Goffin will now look ahead to the Davis Cup finals this weekend.
Dimitrov improved to 4-1 in 2017 finals and 8-6 career. Goffin fell to 2-3 in finals this year and 4-7 in career finals.
By reaching the finals, Dimitrov moved up the No. 3 in the rankings.
I think I’ve had good results in the past, but now, as I said, I need to be even more consistent on those kind of events, and in the same time raise up my level on occasions like this,” Dimitrov said. “Obviously, this is a great, unbelievable achievement for me, yes. But I still have a lot to give. I want to perform better and better.”
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