The first of two semi finals on Saturday at the ATP Finals will be between the winner of Group Boris Becker, Roger Federer, and runner up from Group Pete Sampras – David Goffin. On paper, it looks pretty one sided but surprise package Goffin is in confident form right now. It was his surprise run in the French Open, ending in a loss to Federer, that saw the Belgian first announce himself on the big stage in tennis.
Despite having a great record against Dominic Thiem, Goffin was seen as the underdog going into the match and once more proved people wrong with a comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory. From 0-3 down, he won 12 of the next 13 games to make it 7-2 against Thiem in completed matches at main tour level. The return that eluded him against Dimitrov was found in this match, he won over 50% on return and was rewarded with 5 breaks for that.
“I’ve never found a key to beat Roger. Honestly, I don’t know what to do tomorrow. But I’m going to try something, something different, something that I’ve never done in the past. I will try to do my best to play a better match than in Basel,” Goffin said. He won just three games in that loss in Basel, making it six losses from six against the World No. 2. He has won a set just twice including the aforementioned French Open match where he took the first.
Federer has gone 3-0 in his group as expected but has also not looked the dominant force many expected him to be at this tournament, twice dropping sets and not looking as focused as he could be. Federer let the first set slip against Marin Cilic in his final group match but otherwise was strong on serve. His 17 aces was a best for him this week and allowed him to hold the Croatian to a solitary unconverted break point chance in the 67 64 61 victory. “I think in the beginning I was slightly overaggressive in the first set on some crucial points rather than maybe being patient. I was able to turn that around, you know, late in the second set. Then just had a much better feeling in the third set. Maybe also Marin’s level dropped, I’m not sure. But definitely was dangerous there for a while.”
All signs point to a Federer-Dimitrov final with both 3-0 men comfortable favourites to advance to the final. It’s a matchup that offers plenty of intrigue with the Bulgarian’s form this week but will need to improve his performance from a lopsided Wimbledon loss to have much of a chance.
Prediction: Roger Federer in straight sets