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Sports

AFP
November 16, 2017

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Dimitrov storms into last-four at ATP Finals

Dimitrov storms into last-four at ATP Finals

LONDON: Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov raced into the semi-finals of the ATP Finals with a 6-0, 6-2 demolition of David Goffin on Wednesday.

Dimitrov has never quite lived up to his billing as the heir to Roger Federer’s throne, but the world number six’s eye-catching rout of Goffin was a reminder he is still young and gifted enough to finally make the breakthrough.

The 26-year-old unloaded 18 winners to dismiss the Belgian world number eight at London’s O2 Arena and seal his spot in the last-four with one match to play.Dimitrov, who defeated Dominic Thiem in three sets in his Pete Sampras group opener, has already made history as the first Bulgarian to qualify for the season-ending Tour finals.

And, while Federer remains the title favourite following Rafael Nadal’s injury withdrawal, Dimitrov will fancy his chances of becoming the first debutant winner since Alex Corretja in 1998.Goffin, another first time Tour Finals qualifier, had made a flying start with his dramatic three-set victory over Nadal on Monday.

But that victory was slightly devalued as the world number one was struggling with a knee injury and pulled out of the tournament after the match.Now Goffin will have to win his last group match against Thiem to have a chance of joining Dimitrov in the semi-finals.

World number two Federer, aiming for his seventh Tour Finals title, has already qualified for the last-four from Boris Becker group after winning his first two matches.Alexander Zverev or Jack Sock will advance with Federer as the second qualifier from the Becker group.

Dimitrov had won three of his four previous meetings with Goffin and he was quick to establish control once again.Goffin had a strapping around his left knee and Dimitrov immediately tested his mobility.

Moving Goffin around the court with some deft groundstrokes, Dimitrov landed an early blow with a break in the second game of the first set.Dimitrov was dominating from the baseline and, with Goffin unable to find any rhythm, the Bulgarian broke twice more to take the set in just 27 minutes.

Goffin fared little better in the second set as Dimitrov made it nine games in a row to take a 3-0 lead.The Belgian finally held serve in the 10th game, sparking mocking cheers from the crowd as he avoided the embarrassment of a total whitewash.

Dimitrov was warned for a coaching violation when the umpire said his coach Daniel Vallverdu told him to “use your forehand”.The Bulgarian claimed he didn’t hear it, but he regained his composure to close out the victory.

On Tuesday night, Roger Federer held young pretender Alexander Zverev at bay in a gripping contest to reach the last-four and stay on course for a seventh end-of-season crown.The world number two saw off a spirited challenge from the much-hyped German 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 6-1 in front of a boisterous pro-Federer crowd to become the first man through to the last-four at the O2 Arena.

“It was a good battle and I always enjoy myself at this beautiful arena,” said Federer, who has now reached the semi-finals 14 times.Both players were scratchy on serve at the start of the match but were quickly into the groove in a tight first set that saw no breaks of serve, though Zverev had to fend off two set points in the 12th game to force a tie-break.

The 20-year-old third seed raced into a 4-0 advantage only to see the Swiss charge back to lead 5-4. Zverev earned a set point of his own at 6-5 but could not convert and Federer made his third set point count.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion broke in the first game of the second set to establish an iron grip on the round-robin match but Zverev hit back in the fourth to get back on level terms.

Federer only landed 43 percent of first serves in the second set and it finally cost him in the 12th game, when Zverev capitalised on his third set point to force a decider.The Swiss re-found his focus and some consistency on serve in the decider as Zverev’s level dipped, earning three breaks to close it out 6-1.

Zverev has been touted as the leader of a pack of young players hungry to oust the creaking old guard but Federer, who has suffered only four defeats all year, shows no sign of slipping.Coming into the match Federer, 36, and Zverev had faced each other four times and each had won twice.This year, Federer beat the German in Halle but Zverev returned the favour at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. 

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