Dimitrov outlasts Sock to make the final of the Nitto ATP Finals
Grigor Dimitrov beat Jack Sock in a tense three-setter to claim a spot in the final, on his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Dimitrov started as well as he had been doing all tournament, jumping out to a 3-0 lead, before he was pegged back by Sock who won the next three games to get things back on an even keel.
The pace off his forehand started to put the Bulgarian under pressure, and as the errors started to mount for Dimitrov., Sock seemed to settle more into the task, breaking at the end of the set, and serving it out to put himself just a set away from the season-ending finale.
Dimitrov, who was take to three sets in his opener against Dominic Thiem, now had to keep his nose in front, breaking Sock in his first game of the new set, and converting on the two other break points to deny Sock a chance to get on the board at all.
The decider saw Dimitrov under pressure as Sock ailed to convert on a break point in the opening game, before perhaps the nerves began to tell as Dimitrov converted on a second break point to serve for the match.
Two match points came and went with some gutsy play by Sock, before the tide turned with Sock holding a break point and a chance to spin the dice once more.
A nifty bit of wrong-footing brought up a third match point, only to be denied once more.
But ultimately Sock was living on borrowed time, netting a forehand to give Dimitrov his golden ticket to the final for the fourth time of asking.
In his past two matches against Sock he surrendered match points to ultimately lose the match, and that arm will have been feeling heavy as he tried to serve out the match.
He admitted: “The past two matches, super unfortunate. What can I say? But, yeah, that’s what makes the game so special. You know, sometimes not only that you have to fight yourself mentally, but you need to fight the demons from previous matches or your opponent. There’s just so many things that you bring out.
“But I was very happy the way I handled the pressure. Even though I was down a breakpoint or something, even if I had to play an extra game or games, I had to accept it. I think, regardless, you learn from those moments. I certainly learned from that experience.”
He said on court that he was not playing his best tennis, but this has given him the confidence to know he can hang with the best players in the world (when they return).
Dimitrov explained: “Those are the most important matches, simple as that. Those are the matches that I felt like my level has been higher than in the previous years. I think it’s great to be able not to strike the ball well, not to feel maybe well or something, but you have to find a way. That’s the most important thing for me, is to find a way to win a match even not on your best days.
“That’s exactly what the top, top guys are doing. On a bad day, they’re finding a way to win and get away with that. I didn’t think I played bad, but I just felt that I could have done things better.”
Dimitrov holds a 4-1 record over Goffin, and of course dealt the Belgian a complete drubbing in the round-robin stages, but the time has come indeed for both players to set that aside to contest Sunday’s final.
Dimitrov concluded: “Obviously he’s done well this week. I mean, beating Rafa, Roger, those are big wins. I think his confidence is going to be up there, but I’m not going to focus in on his confidence or his game right now.
“I’m just focusing on myself, the recovery that I’m going to do today. Of course, it’s not going to be the same after I played against him. I think also is a different stage for both of us.”
Dimitrov and Goffin play in the Nitto ATP Finals title match on Sunday, at 6pm GMT.
We may receive compensation for products purchased via affiliate links on this website
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.