Roger Federer will not be adding to his record haul of titles at the season ending ATP Finals after he was defeated in three sets by David Goffin. The World No.2 was the heavy odds on favourite to win both this match and the tournament but found himself on the losing end after Goffin came from a set down to win the match 2-6 6-3 6-4.
Goffin was not all that confident going into the match and really had little right to be given a 0-6 record against Federer and just two sets won overall. “I’ve never found a key to beat Roger. Honestly, I don’t know what to do tomorrow. I’m going to try something, something different, something that I’ve never done in the past. Yeah, I will try to do my best to play a better match than in Basel, for sure.” he said pre-match. He won just 3 games in that Basel loss and it felt that things were going to go the same way with Federer quickly moving into a 5-1 lead.
Things changed in the second with an early break for Goffin and that was all that was needed as Federer was offering little on return as the match went on. He had just one break point in each of the final two sets with both going unconverted. At 1-1 in the decider, a smooth backhand up the line from Goffin set up an easy smash to give the Belgian 2 break points. The first was saved but Federer gifted the break with a backhand long to put Goffin in the driving seat. Federer did have the opportunity to break back immediately but his passing attempt was cut off easily and that would be it for him. He won just 1 point in the final three return games in a disappointingly weak comeback effort.
Goffin now has 5 wins against the top 5 in his career, adding to his tally with this win and the group wins over Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. “Both (wins) are really special. It was the first time against Rafa. Then the semi-final 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,” he said. “Yeah, it is the best win of my career, for sure.” He will remain the underdog in the final against Grigor Dimitrov, especially after his pitiful effort in the group stages where he won just two games.
For Federer, it is a bit of a disappointing end to a great season but with so much to be thrilled about he is not too down about the loss. “It’s been an amazing year for me. I’ve 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,” said Federer. “Looking ahead, look, clearly the buildup is not going to be six months like it was last time around, it’s not going to be six weeks of tennis. It’s just going to be two, three weeks. It’s going to be short. But I did that 15 years previously, so I know how to handle the buildup.”
He closes the year with a 52-5 record and two grand slams to his name. Not a bad record for someone who it was felt that injuries were getting close to calling time on his career. 2018 offers a lot of excitement between renewed Fedal battles and the return of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic to full fitness.