LONDON: Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov raced into the semifinals of the ATP Finals with a 6-0, 6-2 demolition of David Goffin on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
Dimitrov has never quite lived up to his billing as the heir to Roger Federer’s throne, but the world number six’s eye-catching rout of Goffin was a reminder he is still young and gifted enough to finally make the breakthrough.
The 26-year-old unloaded 18 winners to dismiss the Belgian world number eight at London’s O2 Arena and seal his spot in the last four with one match to play.
In the day’s other Pete Sampras group match, Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem beat Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to remain in the hunt for a semi-final berth.
Dimitrov, who defeated Thiem in three sets in his group opener, has already made history as the first Bulgarian to qualify for the season-ending Tour finals.
And while Federer remains the title favorite following Rafael Nadal’s injury withdrawal, Dimitrov will fancy his chances of becoming the first debutant winner since Alex Corretja in 1998.
“You get a few days out of the year that whatever you touch turns to gold and that was the first set,” Dimitrov said.
“You work for those days, it’s nice when it comes in such an occasion.
“It’s a special win for me. My goal was to reach the weekend.”
Goffin, another first time Tour Finals qualifier, had made a flying start with his dramatic three-set victory over Nadal on Monday.
But that victory was slightly devalued as the world number one, who was struggling with a knee injury, pulled out of the tournament after the match.
Now Goffin faces Thiem in their final group match with a semi-final place awaiting the winner.
“It was not easy for me to lose my serve at the start. It was tough for my confidence after that,” Goffin said.
World number two Federer, aiming for his seventh Tour Finals title, has already qualified for the last four from Boris Becker group after winning his first two matches.
One of Alexander Zverev or Jack Sock, who face each other on Thursday after Federer takes on Marin Cilic, will advance with the Swiss as the second qualifier from the Becker group.
Dominant Dimitrov Dimitrov had won three of his four previous meetings with Goffin and he was quick to establish control once again.
Goffin had a strapping around his left knee and Dimitrov immediately tested his mobility, moving Goffin around the court with some deft groundstrokes, and landed an early blow with a break in the second game of the first set.
Dimitrov dominated from the baseline, breaking twice more to take the set in just 27 minutes, and carried his dominance into the second set, racing into a 3-0 lead after winning nine games in a row.
The Belgian avoided the embarrassment of a total whitewash and drew mocking cheers from the crowd in the 10th game as he finally held his serve.
After losing to Dimitrov in his opener, Thiem had little margin for error when he faced Carreno Busta, who was drafted in to replace the injured Nadal.
Thiem had won all four of their previous meetings and he extended that unblemished streak in a bruising baseline battle lasting over two hours.
“It got very tight at the end, luckily I got the deciding break,” Thiem said.
“I’m happy I’m still playing for the semifinals.”