LONDON – After Belgian David Goffin defeated Swiss Roger Federer, the six times champion, and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov succeeded over American Jack Sock on Saturday, both debutants in the ATP Finals will dispute on Sunday the most important final of their careers for the last title of the season at the O2 Arena in London.
Goffin was the first to qualify, beating Federer for the first time in seven matches, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4; while Dimitrov defeated Sock 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.
The defeat of Federer means that Spain’s Rafael Nadal will end the season 1,040 points ahead of the Swiss, who remains in second place.
It will be the first final between two debutants in the history of this tournament, which began in Tokyo in 1970. Both are the first representatives from their respective countries to qualify for the ATP Finals.
Goffin and Dimitrov have met four times this year, and the Bulgarian player won three of the four matches – at the Australian Open quarterfinals, in Sofia and Wednesday’s group stage match. Goffin won the quarterfinals in Rotterdam.
Dimitrov needed four match balls to break Sock’s resistance, who defended himself to the end with all his might.
Sock saved one match ball in his victory against Dimitrov in Montreal in 2015, and four in March this year at Indian Wells. But in the O2 Arena on Saturday, he was not so fortunate, and missed two break balls in the ninth game of the third set, when the Bulgarian closed the game.
Sock, the first US player to play the Masters after Andy Roddick in 2007, won the first set in 47 minutes thanks to his electric right hand.
In the second set, Dimitrov placed himself in the lead quickly, to win it in just 22 minutes, accelerating with every move.
The third was more competitive. Sock had a break point in the first game but could not make it, and then lost his serve in the eighth (5-3) after committing two double faults. Dimitrov remained calm in the next, and his deft backhand dynamited the American’s right.
If Dimitrov wins this Sunday, the Bulgarian would end up undefeated in the tournament, and win a check of $2,549,000 as well as 1,500 points which would make him finish the year as third ranked in the world, behind Nadal and Federer.
Goffin, who earlier lost to Dimitrov in the group stage (6-0, 6-2), could finish fifth in the world if he claims the title.