World Tour Finals preview and prediction: Dimitrov vs. Goffin

Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin will be battling for Group A supremacy at the World Tour Finals when they square off for the fifth time in their careers at the ATP level on Wednesday afternoon.

They faced each other in a flurry of matches earlier this season but promptly went on an eight-month drought with zero meetings. Dimitrov leads the head-to-head series 3-1 (6-1 including Futures and Challengers), with a 2-1 mark in 2017. The Bulgarian prevailed 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the Australian Open quarterfinals and 7-5, 6-4 in the Sofia title match before Goffin exacted a measure of revenge via a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 decision in the Rotterdam quarters.

Dimitrov was an incredible 16-1 in his first 17 matches of the year before running into Goffin in Rotterdam. After that, there was never much doubt that the current world No. 6 would make his first-ever World Tour Finals appearance–and certainly no doubt after top players like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, and Kei Nishikori started to fall by the wayside. Dimitrov went on to capture the biggest title of his career at the Cincinnati Masters and his solid fall swing includes a runner-up showing in Stockholm.

The 26-year-old made his O2 Arena debut in style on Monday, surviving a roller-coaster affair with Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.

Goffin had one year-end championship match under his belt going into his 2017 appearance, as he took the court in 2016 as an alternate and got blown out by Novak Djokovic 6-1, 6-2. The world No. 8 fared much better in his second effort, taking advantage of a hobbled Rafael Nadal to topple the world No. 1 in three sets–7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4. Goffin has dealt with injuries of his own this season, to the extent that each of his last three Grand Slams was negatively affected. Still, he is 55-22 in 2017 and both of his titles have come during the fall swing; back-to-back in Shenzhen and Tokyo.

“On paper it’s the best win of my career, for sure, to beat Rafa,” Goffin noted. “But I saw that he was struggling a little bit with his movement on the court, and his knee was suffering a little bit. It was tough even if he was not moving 100 percent. It was not easy. It’s never easy to finish a match–to finish a set against him…. Yes, it is the best win of my career.

“I have to continue to play like that, to continue to play my game, to stay focused on what I have to do on the court. I think I was feeling the ball really well tonight. Now the next match will be tough. Every match is tough here.”

Both Goffin and Dimitrov had plenty of difficult closing out their respective matches on Monday; the Belgian, especially, struggled in pressure-packed moments and needed help from Nadal’s injury to stumble across the finish line. Given that Dimitrov has also had Goffin’s number for the most part, the Bulgarian should have a slight edge in this one.

Pick: Dimitrov in 3

26 Comments on World Tour Finals preview and prediction: Dimitrov vs. Goffin

  1. Well done Dimi. I know he’s been playing very good tennis starting with Beijing. He lost only to quality players like Rafa (Beijing SF and Shanghai QF) and to Delpo (Stockholm final).

    I hope he reaches the final here and if possible wins the title.

    • True. I would say that Dimitrov is the one who has the best chance of beating Federer, along with Zverev. If Fed makes it to the final and is pretty worn out, or his back starts to stiffen, then I could see Dimi or Zverev taking him out in the final. For me, it all depends on how the ol’ man’s body holds up. He says he’s fine, but he looked a little stiff to me at times in the Zverev match…

      • I’m very happy for Grigor, he’s such a nice guy and has been in a bromance with Rafa lately 🙂
        We know Fed is not a good matchup for him, but if Fed keeps grinding from the baseline like he did against Zverev instead of the fast pace and agressive tennis that has been is trademark this year, possibly Grigor has a chance.

        • He’s definitely got a chance! All top players always have a chance of beating the Big 4, it’s just a question of how realistic it is. I agree with you that if Fed plays not-so-aggressively-by-his-standard like he did against Zverev, then Dimitrov would have a decent shot against. However, Dimitrov doesn’t quite have the ability to take the racquet out of Fed’s hands and really dictate the way that Zverev can against Fed, so it could be easier for Fed to dictate and play aggressively against Dimitrov.

          As far a Dimi is concerned, I feel like he still has some massive mental problems that continue to surface during his matches. He will not stand a chance against Federer if he does that. If he wins the first set and then does that thing where he just drops his competitiveness, then Federer will pounce all over him and win the next two sets. Basically, I think Grigor would need to come flying out of the gates, pressure Fed from the get-go, take the first set, and then not get tight mentally if he wants to realistically beat Fed. If Fed were to be really worn out or have a sore back, that would also really help Grigor, but we don’t want that of course!

          But the question is, will Fed and Grigor even end up playing each other here?

          • You’re right Kevin. Grigor doesn’t have the mental strength to play blazing tennis against the big four all the time in a consistent way, even more against Federer it seems that the fact of being a bad matchup for him, plus that he lost all the matches against him seems to be looming on his mind,preventing him to play his very best level.
            Probably, they can very well not end up playing each other, as both are in a great position to win their respective groups. Considering Zverev gets the second place, it will be very difficult for Dimitrov to stop him. Given all the players form right now, I believe they are the only ones with a legitimate shot against Federer.

  2. Well, for one, it’s Goffin. Not sure why are so surprised he didn’t play with passion. Second, he just couldn’t get his game off. It happens. Maybe his knee was bothering him. Stop trying to over analyze. It’s one game.

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