Dimitrov beats Goffin, claims ATP title

From ESPN - January 11, 2018

LONDON -- At the end of a tournament for the underdog, Grigor Dimitrov proved the exception to the rule as he took the ATP Finals title and his place among the tennis world's superelite.

The first Bulgarian to win the event has seemed to be weighed down by his own potential for much of his career, but he held his nerve Sunday in a tight, 2-hour-30-minute final to beat David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

He ends the year with his first major title and as the world No. 3, but the final favourite will feel comfortable to have scaled the heights of the men's game after finding his feet in tandem with Dani Vallverdu over the last 15 months.

Dimitrov was ranked No. 40 when the coach joined his team last year and the tearful $2.5 million prize money winner paid tribute to Vallerdu and popstar girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger for helping him turn things around.

"With the right set of mind, with the right people, with the right support, things happen," said Dimitrov, who admitted he could not imagine achieving such success two years ago. "For me, that period [when I was ranked in the 40s] really helped me a lot. I needed that.

"Those six, seven months that were a complete struggle for me. I appreciate them in a way that, I mean, only yourself if you have been through that you would understand."

Sunday's match could have gone either way after a nervous first set in which the players exchanged a series of breaks. Dimitrov finished it ahead after a 10-minute game on Goffin's shaky early serve gave him five chances to break.

The psychological damage could have been great given the Bulgarian had wiped away his opponent with the loss of only two games last Wednesday in their group game, but it lasted only until midway through the second set, when Goffin broke and went on to level the score.

The match eventually turned decisively in the sixth game of the third set, when a Goffin backhand -- a shot he had played so beautifully at times -- went wide on the second break point to give Dimitrov a 4-2 lead.


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