Monday, 20 November 2017

Dimitrov wins ATP Finals

The season is over for ATP players and Grigor Dimitrov (6) has won the chocolates in the London ATP Finals.

He remained undefeated throughout, and overcame David Goffin (7) in an exciting final.

Neither player had reached these dizzy heights at the seasons end, indeed had never qualified for the elite eight.

To make the final, David Goffin did something he had also never dome previously - knocking over Roger Federer (2) - and this after dropping the opening set. Federer was undefeated and supremely confident, only four losses for the year.

Perhaps a touch of arrogance entered his game and Goffin lifted the overall quality and consistency of his output to pressure Federer into unusual numbers of unforced errors.

One break point was all it needed and Goffin had levelled the semi final at 2-6 6-3. He took the momentum straight into the decider and the pressure showed on Federer.  

Goffin again outgunned the 19 time major winner both on serve and return to break once from two opportunities and win unexpectedly but outstandingly 2-6 6-3 6-4.

Dimitrov won his semi final against Jack Sock (8), but also took three sets to do so.

In set one, despite a woeful conversion of points won on first serve, Sock smashed it on his second delivery, and pulled Dimitrov’s second serve to pieces, winning 10 of 13 points.

The set went to the American 6-4.

Set two must have been uninteresting for Sock because he didn’t win a game. Dimitrov definitely lifted his work rate, but winning 24 points out of the 33 played said a lot about Sock’s failings.

The return of the eighth seed to competitive tennis happened early in set three, but despite an excellent first serve points won percentage, he lost all points when relying on a second delivery.

Dimitrov pounced on one of two break points and Sock wasted all of three. The Bulgarian reached the final 4-6 6-0 6-3.

The final was a rematch of the round robin encounter in which Dimitrov thrashed Goffin 6-0 6-2.

This was to prove completely different.

All the first three service games were lost by the server, two by Dimitrov.

Goffin consolidated a lead 4-2.

However the eighth game was pivotal when the Belgian failed to nail his advantage and surrendered the break to the sixth seed.

The momentum switch was irresistible and Grigor won four of the remaining five games played in the set to win it from Goffin 7-5.

As in his semi final with Federer, David fought back against another Goliath in set two.

Seven aces and 14 of 15 points won on first serve made holding his serve more comfortable than in the opening set.

Still finding a way through the Dimitrov defence was difficult.

Finally, with a break point each, Goffin was the one to convert and push the match to a decider, the scoreline 5-7 6-4.

Returning the Goffin serve well and winning significant number of points was integral to Dimitrov collecting six break points.

Goffin was playing well enough to find four of his own.

Only one of those ten was,converted, and that was enough for Grigor Dimitrov to capture his biggest title of 2017.

Top ten at end of the year:

1. Rafa Nadal 10,645

2. Roger Federer 9,605

3. Grigor Dimitrov 5,150 (Highest career ranking)

4. Alexander Zverev 4,610

5. Dominic Thiem 4,015

6. Marin Cilic 3,805

7. David Goffin 3,775 (HCR)

8. Jack Sock 3,165 (HCR)

9. Stan Wawrinka 3,150

10. Pablo Carreno Busta 2,615 (HCR)

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Last four reached in the ATP Finals

The semi finals at the ATP Finals are confirmed after the last of the round robin matches were completed yesterday.

David Goffin (7) gave Dominic Thiem (4) a tennis lesson, beginning with a solid opening set in which his first serve percentage of 71 compared with Thiem’s unhelpful 46.

Despite this stat, Goffin only marginally out played Thiem, but in all facets of the game, appearing dominant throughout.

A 6-4 advantage quickly turned into a rout.

Thiem won only 43% of points on his serve in set two, and the most devastating factor was his inability to convert break points - zero from five, as against Goffin’s three from four.

The seventh seed, who only one match ago was thrashed by Dimitrov, did likewise to Thiem, returning serve with precision en route to a 6-4 6-1 success.

Goffin meets Federer in one semi final while Grigor Dimitrov (6) plays Jack Sock (8) in the other.

Dimitrov is in possibly the best form of any player in the whole tournament, including even Federer. He continued his undefeated dominance with a comprehensive dismissal of Pablo Carreno Busta in the final round robin match in the Pete Sampras Group.

Facing no break points, but taking advantage of five from ten chances of his own, led tthe Bulgarian to a 6-1 6-1 masterful display, with some of the finest shots seen in the tournament.

Dimitrov won twice as many points as his opponent in the match.

A win over Sock will move Dimitrov to number three in the world rankings.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Sock beats Zverev into semi final

The round robin matches have been completed for those in the Boris Becker Group at the ATP Finals in London.

After dropping the opening set to Marin Cilic (5) in a tie break, Roger Federer (2) came back strongly to win the next two 6-4 6-1 to preserve his undefeated status and ensure Cilic left the English capital winless.

That match had no effect on the semi final line up since Federer was already qualified.

The next match would determine who joined the Swiss master.and Alexander Zverev (3) played Jack Sock (8) for the spot.

Sock entered the clash in the peak of form, having won the Paris Masters 1000 title in the past week or so. He pipped the German in a competitive opening set, converting one of a number of break points available to both players. 6-4 and the early lead.

Zverev turned it around in set two, winning 70% of points on his serve, compared with 41% for Sock. Two service breaks for the third seed and the match was even.

Each player feasted on the second serve of the other in the deciding third set, assisting in five service breaks. Sock owned three of these, enough to claim the set, the match 6-4 1-6 6-4: and a semi final berth.

That is against Grigor Dimitrov.

The win takes Sock to a new career high ranking of eight, leaving the injured Stan Wawrinka at nine, dropping behind both Sock and Goffin because of his absence in this tournament.

One of the final round robin matches in the Pete Sampras Group will feature alternate player Pablo Carreno Busta battling Grigor Dimitrov (6) in effectively an exhibition since Dimitrov has already booked a semi final spot.

The other match between Dominic Thiem (4) and David Goffin (7) will see the winner take the fourth semi final spot and earn a clash with Roger Federer.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Dimitrov into ATP Finals semis

Sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov has joined Roger Federer in the semis of the ATP Finals in London after he dismantled David Goffin (7).

The Bulgarian was ruthless fro the outset, winning 86% of points on his serve in set one, and 63% of points on Goffin’s serve.

Three of seven break points were converted, while Goffin couldn’t manufacture a single chance.

6-0 was the scoreline and it didn’t improve much in the second set.

Dimitrov capitalised on two of four break points but Goffin failed to do anything with his only break point of the match.

Again taking significant skin off the Belgian serve, Dimitrov delivered the set with ease, and the match 6-0 6-2.

The live rankings now see Dimitrov jumping two spots to a possible career high of four.

Dominic Thiem (4) kept his hopes of a semi final spot alive by defeating alternate player Pablo Carreno Busta.

Rather than facing Nadal, it was the less imposing fellow Spaniard, but that still posed plenty of problems for the Austrian who was stretched to three sets.

Opening with a blistering 84% of points won on serve and facing no break points, Thiem raced to a 6-3 lead.

This was matched by Pablo who returned brilliantly in set two resulting in two breaks and a 6-3 for himself.

The decider saw Thiem gather seven break chances and weight of numbers told - two converted - and while Pablo squeezed a break of his own, it was insufficient.

Thiem won 6-3 3-6 6-4 and will play Goffin for the second semi spot from the Pete Sampras Group.

As we speak, Marin Cilic (5), winless so far, has taken the first set from unbeaten Roger Federer (2).

While the match has no bearing on standings in the Boris Becker Group - Federer already in the semis and Cilic unable to qualify - a win over the Swiss legend would be something for Cilic to take away from the tournament. A reminder of the semi final in the 2014 US Open, where his win over Federer was a prelude to the major win - the final against Nishikori.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Federer outlasts Zverev in London

The third day/night of the ATP Finals produced two three set thrillers and included a broken record.

First it was fifth seed Marin Cilic (5) against Jack Sock (8), both coming off losses in their opening matches.

It was Cilic who began best, winning 63% of points on his second serve in the first set compared to 25% for Sock.

Service was broken twice by Cilic and once by Sock, enabling the Croatian to take the lead 7-5.

Sock struck back hard, reversing the trend with points won on second serve, 64% to 23%.

Two breaks to none and the match was level.

An even third set, with a break each, meant that a tie break would determine the result.

Cilic led 4-2 but some aggressive and outstanding shotmaking from Sock saw him rattle off five straight points to steal the match 5-7 6-2 7-6(4).

Alexander Zverev (3) served it up to Roger Federer (2) after surrendering the close opening set to the Swiss star in a tie break 8 points to 6.

In set two the German young gun converted two of seven break chances , while Federer broke just once from two chances.

Federer was clearly angry and blasted Zverev off the court in set three 6-1, remaining undefeated and taking a spot in the semi finals.

31 points to 17 in the decider and Federer will compete in the semi finals at the season ending tournament for the 14th time in 15 appearances. He now has broken the record of Tiger Woods in terms of career prize money.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Nadal withdraws from ATP Finals

In London at the ATP Finals, Alexander Zverev (3) finished the opening night by recovering from a break down in the deciding third set to defeat Marin Cilic (5) 6-4 3-6 6-4.

The second day/night saw two matches from the Pete Sampras Group.

First up, Grigor Dimitrov (6) played Dominic Thiem (4).

In set one, both were terrific on first serves, Thiem winning 10 of 11 points, and Dimitrov 16 of 18.

However, Thiem could only manage a terrible 37% of first serves into play, and enabled Dimitrov to have a go at three break points, one of which was converted.

The Bulgarian faced no break points and won the set 6-3.

Set two was somewhat a reversal, with Dimitrov poorer on first serve percentage and winning far less points overall.

This time the only break point converted was initiated by Thiem who levelled the match 3-6 7-5.

Points won on second serve determined how the third set was won. Dimitrov won 69% of points on his second delivery, while Thiem won 44% on his.

Break points were created more at will for the sixth seed and he just required one to be converted and the match was his 6-3 5-7 7-5.

David Goffin (7) picked up the biggest win of his career when he toppled Rafa Nadal (1).

After taking set one in a tie break, Goffin would have been concerned when Nadal levelled by winning set two, also in a tie break.

From five chances, though, Goffin broke twice in the decider to shock the top seed 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-4.

A bigger shock came after the match with Nadal’s withdrawal from the tournament through injury.

Fellow Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta, is the replacement for Nadal.

Monday, 13 November 2017

ATP Finals underway

The year end ATP Finals have commenced in London and the two groups consist of four players each - the top eight ranked in the world have qualified although seventh ranked Stan Wawrinka is injured and unable to compete. His spot is taken by ninth ranked Jack Sock.

Group Pete Sampras

Rafael Nadal (seeded 1)

Dominic Thiem (4)

Grigor Dimitrov (6)

David Goffin (7)

Group Boris Becker

Roger Federer (2)

Alexander Zverev (3)

Marin Cilic (5)

Jack Sock (8)

Roger Federer opened proceedings by defeating Jack Sock in straight sets 6-4 7-6(4)

Not much separated the two in set one with the only break point being pounced on by Federer, effectively deciding things.

The pressure of the Swiss first serve winning 16 of 18 points was an important factor.

Despite again dominating on his first serve - winning 20 of 22 points - and creating 5 break points, Federer could not pierce the Sock serve in set two.

It took a tie break, in which Federer has proved a master, to force the issue. Roger predictably won it and the match.

Currently Zverev and Cilic are battling each other in the second round robin match on opening night with the two swapping sets and Cilic achieving an early break in set three.