Grigor Dimitrov is called ‘Baby Fed’ on tour and he proved those comparisons Sunday when he beat Daniel Goffin, who ousted Roger Federer in the semifinals 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 29 minutes.
Dimitrov was the best player present in London because he won all his five matches – culminating in the win over surprise finalist, Goffin. The Bulgarian will now end 2017 as No.2 in the world, behind Federer, who will end as No.1.
“This makes me even more locked in, more excited about my work, and for what’s to come,” Dimitrov said afterward.
“It’s a great platform for me to build on for next year. It’s going to be amazing in the off-season. I know what I have to do in order to do good,” he added.
And 2017 has indeed been good – actually the best in his 10-year career. The season ending ATP Tour finals was the fourth title for Dimitrov in 2017 and just the eighth of his career.
He did not start the London finals very well as he was down 3-1 to Goffin at a point but he rallied to take the first set 7-5 even though he had 17 winners less than the Belgian. Goffin showed more aggression and attacked at the net at every opportunity in the second set and forced a decider.
But Dimitrov set the template for his victory in the third set by breaking Goffin in the sixth game and holding serve to engineer a commanding 5-2 lead. Goffin held by Dimitrov served out before collapsing on to the court unbelieving of what he had just achieved.
The 26-year-old cried before rising to hug Goffin and then jumped into the stands to share long hugs with his parents, and his coach, Daniel Vallerdu, who joined him in June 2016, when he was ranked No.40 in the world.
With the Australian Open scheduled to start on January 15, Dimitrov will be expected to be one of the major players – a tournament in which he had his best Grand Slam showing in 2017, reaching the semi-final before losing to Rafael Nadal in five sets.
Dimitrov won $2,549,000 as prize money but he must ensure that his off-season is spent preparing for the next season challenges because the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic would be back healthier and stronger – seeking to reclaim their positions. It will be up to him to ensure he stays in his exalted position.