Grigor Dimitrov booked his place in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals with the briefest of workouts after he delivered a double whammy to a listless David Goffin, for the loss of x games.
There was always a risk that there would be come-down for the Belgian after his best career win when he defeated a valiant, but ultimately physically failing Rafael Nadal. Not dissimilar to the Spaniard, Goffin has been struggle with a knee injury over the last few weeks, on his way to double wins in the Asian swing.
With another Davis Cup final looming in his future, you had to wonder whether that was at the back of Goffin’s mind as he struggled to find the court, with Dimitrov testing the Belgian from side to side.
There were flurries of resistance as it can always be a danger that such an easy coast to victory can lead to a lack of concentration, and the crowd roared into life when Goffin actually got a couple of games on the board.
All was to no avail as Dimitrov had the bit between his teeth for an easy win.
With one withdrawal already on the books, the main question was whether Goffin would even continue in the tournament, but he maintained that this had just been a bad day at the office.
Goffin said: “I have a tape on my knee since the US Open. I continue to wear the tape for my knee. But, yeah, I’m almost 100% physically, yeah. I’m feeling okay.
“It was not the problem today. It was just a tough, tough match against Grigor who played really well.”
Of course the nature of the round robin is that he still has chance to qualify if he can beat Dominic Thiem on Friday, and with the Davis Cup final around the corner, how much of a distraction would that be?
Goffin continued: I’m not thinking about the Davis Cup for the moment. I know it’s just after this event. We will see. I’m just focused on this event first, then we see after.”
For a long while Dimitrov was almost blighted by the ‘Baby Fed’ nickname because of the comparisons of their style of strokes.But at times it seemed to be a millstone around his neck, and if this tournament has proved anything – it is that Dimitrov is his own man.
He said, after the match: “I think the comparisons and all this, they don’t really matter any more. As I said before, I’m saying it now, I’m really looking after
my game and what I’m doing right.
“Yeah, I think one of the wrong things you can do is to try to follow somebody else or try to, as I said, follow in the footsteps, the things that they have done. But, yeah, I think clearly I played a great match today.
“I’m happy with it. I mean, now you’re into the tournament, two matches under your belt. You slowly start to get out there. I’m looking forward.”
World No. 4 Dominic Thiem came close to ending another appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals in the round robin stages after struggling to put away alternate, Pablo Carreno Busta.
The Austrian, who lost an edgy three-setter to Dimitrov, was rescued from a tough second round against Nadal, who withdrew from the tournament with a knee injury after losing in his opener against Goffin.
His form since the US Open has been awful, and in fairness Carreno Busta had not really fared any better. So how would two players tightly matched in style and in form perform?
The match was more a war of attrition where Thiem was concerned. After looking pretty solid in the first set, breaking the Spaniard twice. But any butterflies Carreno Busta might have had out on the bigger stage diminished as he broke Thiem early on in the second set, and kept a tight grip on that advantage to level the match.
The third set became a battle of wills, or most certainly a battle for Thiem and his inner demons. Despite breaking the Spaniard in the opening game, Busta pressed hard, rewarded by a break back as Thiem’s backhand took a walk off the map.
He had his chances to break once more with Carreno Busta saving four break points, but Thiem got his breakthrough, serving the match out and saving his chances of coming out of this group.
Group Pete Sampras will conclude the round robin stages on Friday.
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