London final preview and prediction: Dimitrov vs. Goffin

Grigor Dimitrov must have been thinking that if he could get past Jack Sock at the Nitto ATP Finals, he would go up against the player he has emulated. Instead, he will go up against a player he has owned.

Dimitrov set up a showdown with David Goffin in the last ATP match of 2017 after the Bulgarian defeated Jack Sock 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 in the London semis on Saturday night. That was preceded by Goffin’s shocking 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 upset of Roger Federer. The result is a ninth career battle–and second this week–between Dimitrov and Goffin, with the former dominating the head-to-head series 7-1 (4-1 on the main-tour level).

They just faced each other three days ago during round-robin action at the O2 Arena, where Dimitrov cruised 6-0, 6-2.

Goffin can only hope things will be different three days later. The Belgian can at least take heart in the fact that things were extremely different from one match against Federer to the next. Three weeks before taking down the world No. 2 in London, Goffin got blown out by Federer 6-1, 6-2 in Basel.

Aside from his humiliation at Dimitrov’s hands, Goffin has been outstanding this week–and this entire fall. The recent Shenzhen and Tokyo champion is 3-1 at the year-end championship with victories over Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Dominic Thiem. Having bookended his run so far with defeats of Nadal and Federer, Goffin is just the sixth player in history to beat both of those all-time greats at the same tournament.

Nobody, though, has been better than Dimitrov over the past seven days. The world No. 6, once labeled “Baby Fed,” is undefeated with wins at the expense of Goffin Sock, Thiem, and Pablo Carreno Busta. He has surrendered sets only to Sock and Thiem, and set scores of 6-0, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1, and 6-0 have highlighted his trip to the championship match. Overall, Dimitrov is 47-19 this season and will finish at No. 3 in the world.

“If you have watched some matches this week, you know the answer,” Goffin responded when asked if he would rather play Dimitrov or Sock in the final. “It will be something different (from our previous match), hopefully…. I hope to play the tennis I played [on Saturday]. I’ll try to be more aggressive…. We will see. I will try something different than in [round-robin].

In conclusion he joked, “It won’t be difficult to do better than on Wednesday.”

“I wish I could just press replay,” Dimitrov said of their round-robin encounter. “I’m sure neither one of us is going to think about that. I cannot just say one thing in particular (that makes Goffin dangerous). 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 [anything] to lose.”

Both players are correct. Goffin can’t possibly do any worse, and neither has anything to lose in this surprising final. It will be far more competitive than on Wednesday, but Dimitrov has been the best player in the field from start to finish this week.

Pick: Dimitrov in 3

1 Comment on London final preview and prediction: Dimitrov vs. Goffin

  1. Congratulations to Dimi! He may finally be realizing his potential.

    Goffin put up a fight and can know that he beat both Rafa and Fed here. Well done to both guys!

    It’s amazing to see that Dimi will be ranked #3 now!

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