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Tuesday, 14 November 2017 11:10 AM GMT
ATP Finals: Goffin bests Nadal, Dimitrov makes winning debut rounds up the action from Day 2 at the Nitto ATP Finals. READ MORE

Goffin stuns Nadal

David Goffin began his ATP Finals campaign with the biggest win of his career, besting an ailing Rafael Nadal 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in a match that would ultimately force the world No.1 to pull out of the tournament through injury.

Nadal's withdrawal at the Paris Masters had raised doubts about his participation in London, and they proved to be well founded with the Spaniard struggling throughout the encounter with a recurring right knee issue. 

But his issues should not detract from Goffin's performance; the Belgian went into the match as the underdog, but swiftly dismissed that tag by breaking and then consolidating for a 3-1 lead in the opening set, and was dictating much of the play with some well calculated angles.

Nadal did restore parity with an immediate break back, but was struggling to generate any rhythm and lost his serve once again at 5-5. In what would go on to become a theme of the match, though, Goffin failed to capitalise on the opportunity, with Nadal breaking back once again to force a tie-break.

There, the Belgian was finally rewarded for being the superior player in the opener, winning five of the last seven points to claim his first ever set against Nadal.

With the Spaniard in visible discomfort, Goffin endeavoured to press home his advantage, and broke for a 5-3 lead in the second set. Thus began the most dramatic passage of the match, with the world No.8 first handing back the break with a double fault, then failing to convert a match point at 5-4, 40-30 before Nadal saved three more match points in a row to recover from 5-6, 0-40 down.

It would later transpire that Nadal had already decided he would make this his last match of 2017, regardless of the outcome, but it was a typically indomitable effort from the Spaniard to get to a tie-break.

There, he won six points in a row en route to forcing a decider, and one wondered whether Goffin would recover from the blow of being pulled back from the brink of victory on four occasions.

But it became quickly apparent that Nadal was now running on fumes, with the world No.1 falling a double break behind. He would recover one of those breaks, but Goffin finally sealed victory with an ace down the T.

"It's the best win of my career, for sure, to beat Rafa. But, yeah, I saw that he was struggling a little bit with his movement on the court, and his knee was suffering a little bit,” Goffin said.

“It was tough even if he was not moving 100%. He was hitting the ball really hard. It was not easy. It's never easy to finish a match, to finish a set against him. Even if I lost four match points in the second, I had no regret. I kept going in the third." 

After the match, Nadal announced his withdrawal from the competition, bringing an end to a remarkable season which saw him claim six titles, including Roland Garros and the US Open, and finish the year as world No.1

"My season is finished. It’s about the pain. I could not find enough power to keep playing," explained the Spaniard.

"I tried, but seriously it was a miracle to be very close in the score during the match. It really didn’t make sense.

"The good thing is that this is nothing new. Everybody on my team, we have the right experience with this thing. We hope to manage it well, to have the right rest, the right work, and try to be ready for the beginning of next season.

"I really believed that I didn’t deserve after this great season to spend two more days on court with these terrible feelings. Of course I am disappointed, but I am not going to cry. I had a great season. I really appreciate all the things that happened to me during the whole season."

First alternate Pablo Carreno Busta will replace Nadal in the Pete Sampras group, and will make his bow against Dominic Thiem on Wednesday.

Dimitrov up and running

In an encounter billed as the battle of the one-handed backhands, ATP Finals debutant Grigor Dimitrov bested Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 to get his tournament off to a winning start.

Following a career-best season that has yielded three titles and a personal high ranking of No.6 in the world, Dimitrov arrived in London openly delighted at qualifying for the season-ending event.

And although the Bulgarian would later confess to his pre-match nerves, he was much the stronger player in the opening set.

Aided by a strong serving display and some customary flashes of brilliance, it was he who took the opener having maintained his lead after breaking Thiem at 3-2.

The Austrian, who arrived in London with 1-13 record against top 10 players on hard courts, did raise his level in the second set, but looked to be on the brink when Dimitrov forged a break point at 5-5.

Yet just when he needed it most, Thiem ignited his game, producing a sublime forehand winner to save break point before conjuring up a break of his own to force a decider.

The final set appeared to be evenly balanced, but it was Dimitrov who was delivering in the biggest moments, most notably producing an exquisite drop volley to break for a 4-3 lead.

There was more drama to come, though, with Dimitrov failing to serve it out at 5-4, but he broke back straight away before claiming victory at the second time of asking.

"It, for me, was just one of those new experiences that I think I'm going to remember for the rest of my life, I think appreciate for the rest of my life,” Dimitrov said.

“This is where I always wanted to be at, among the top players, also being able to come through in my first match, it's only positive."


Best moment

Nadal got a taste of his own medicine when Goffin produced this exquisite banana shot, and the Spaniard's reaction said it all...

Best quote

"Thankyou and Merry Christmas, everyone!" - How Rafael Nadal signed off his 2017 season

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