David Goffin Rallies Past Roger Federer and Will Face Grigor Dimitrov in Final of ATP World Tour Finals
(November 18, 2017) David Goffin rallied from a set down to beat No. 2 Roger Federer for the first time in his career 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the final of the ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday at London’s O2 Arena.
Asked by media on Friday, what he’d have to do to beat Federer he said: “Honestly, I don’t know what to do tomorrow.”
This was the Belgian’s first time qualifying for the ATP Yea-End event and now he’s in the final. He’ll be facing another Year-End debutante in the final – No. 6 seed Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian defeated American Jack Sock 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 in his semifinal played during the evening session.
Goffin, who defeated Rafael Nadal in his first round-robin match in the Pete Sampras group, is one of a select few to defeat both Nadal and Federer in the same tournament. Novak Djokovic did it five times, Nikolay Davydenko and David Nabandian twice, and Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro once.
“Both are really special,” Goffin said in regard to his wins over Nadal and Federer. “It was the first time against Rafa. Then the semifinal for the first time for me here, and to beat Roger for the first time here in such a big event, big tournament, it was the perfect moment.
“Yeah, it is the best win of my career, for sure.”
“t was not an easy match,” said Goffin. “Of course, it was not easy. When I started to play against him, I was a little bit nervous. I started to be just solid. But against him it’s not enough to be just solid, because it’s perfect, the perfect pace for him, he can do whatever he wants.
“Then I wanted to change something because I was nervous. I started to feel the ball better at the end of the first set, so I wanted to be more aggressive. As soon as I had the chance to go for the shot from the return and from the serve also was the key to go for the shot.
“It paid off. I started to serve well. My forehand was going much better. I was really aggressive. I came to the net.
“Yeah, when you see me at the net, it is something good.”
“He played better. That was a good plan,” said smiling Federer to media.
“It’s that simple. I didn’t feel like you could do that much different things on this court, you know. If you told me that he was going to play way back in the court and roll the ball up and try things like this, then it’s really a big change. Other than that, I didn’t feel a big difference to previous times.
“He struggled for the first set and a bit anyways. So I just think he was able to raise his game. Maybe I helped him doing it, maybe not. But, look, I just think the better returner won over the better server today.
“It’s a bit disappointing for me because it’s indoors, it’s a court I like to play on. But I had my chances and missed them. When he had them, he was very committed. I think that was the difference today.”
“it’s been an amazing year for me,” Federer said. “Been so happy that I was playing at this level from the beginning till basically the end, till today. So it’s been great. Really enjoyed myself in the process.
“I felt I was, you know, playing in a way that I also, you know, like – you know, playing forward, playing attacking tennis. I wish I could have done that a little bit more today. It’s kind of disappointing to finish on this note. But whatever happened today is less important than if I look at the entire season. With that season, I’m extremely happy.”
Federer end the season with two majors, three Masters events and the No. 2 ranking. He was 14-2 against the world’s Top Ten.
“I’m just looking forward to some time off now, away from the match court, away from the pressure, then hopefully play well in Australia,” he continued. “I can’t wait to play there again. I had the best time of my life this year, so can’t wait to go back there.”
In the evening session, Grigor Dimitrov extended his perfect record 4-0 at the Year-End by coming back against Jack Sock 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.
Evaluating the match, Dimitrov said: “I think in the beginning, I think I started the match exactly the way I wanted it. I think I just, after that break, that breakpoint at 3-0 in the first set, I think was a little bit of a turning point I felt for him. He stepped in the court, started being a little more aggressive. I let him play his game. I think that was the first set.
“And, yeah, second was obviously one-way street. Very good play, as simple as that.
“In the third, I just had to find those little cracks in his game, yeah, to break him. I think after that was, again, good finish for me.”
“I mean, had a pretty poor start to each set,” Sock admitted. “Got down a break in the first. Was able to get it back. Didn’t win a game in the second. Had some looks early in the third.
“When you play a guy, a player of that caliber, you can’t give him that many opportunities, that many free points. He took advantage today. I thought he really stepped up his level in the second and third. Came up with some pretty crazy shots in the third set at some inopportune for myself.”
Disappointed about the loss, Sock reflected on a career year, making the Year-End for the first time.
“I can’t complain,” sock said. “Shouldn’t have been here in the first place. Yeah, I mean, to be here, my first appearance here, to make the semis, getting through a pretty tough group I thought, beating some good players. Obviously both groups are very tough. For my first time, to play the three guys that were in our group, to get through, was a big confidence booster for me.
“Definitely going to take the experience from the last three weeks, everything I learned, all the things I did well in the matches, things I can improve, work on those in the off-season, and get ready for 2018.”
On Monday, the Bulgarian will vault in the rankings to No. three, jumping over Alexander Zverev.
“Well, the goal was to finish the year top 10. Now I finished 3,” he said. “It’s great. What can I say?
“It’s wonderful, a wonderful reward. This is what I’ve been working for. So, yeah, it’s even better, even better. You know, to finish the year in that manner, I think it’s not only good for me, I think for the whole team. I think that gives us a very good platform to start in the off-season, yeah, have a good start of next year.”
Dimitrov destroyed Goffin in round-robin play 6-0, 6-2 and gave he thoughts about playing himin the finals: “Again, it’s another match for me. 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, yeah. 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. But, yeah, it’s another match for me.
“I think also is a different stage for both of us. Yeah, it’s wonderful day to play on.”
“This match is in the past,” he explained. “I wish I could just press ‘replay’. I mean, for sure I’m sure neither one of us is going to think about that. As I said, again, he’s a very intelligent player. Knows his way around the court very well. Any given day, any particular moments, he makes it dangerous.
“I cannot just say one thing in particular. Again, he had a few good wins already. Has been playing well through the end of the year. So I think he’s still got a lot of confidence. I think obviously none of us has nothing to lose. We’re out there in that first final. I think that’s going to be exciting.”
As for Goffin’s thoughts on playing Dimitrov: “If it’s Grigor, I had a match in the group, it was a tough match. I was not in my match. But it is a final. It will be something different hopefully. There will be another issue for me. It’s another match. I have the chance to play another match, if it’s Grigor, against him. I hope to play the tennis I played today. I’ll try to be more aggressive, also go for the shot, and yeah, go for the trophy.
“We will see. I will try something different than in the group. But it won’t be difficult to do better than on Wednesday.”