Grigor Dimitrov had been waiting a long time for this day. It finally came to him and he shed a few tears, tears of joy but also tears that reminded him of the hard work he and put in and it has paid off.
The 26 year old Bulgarian with the relaxed attitude won the biggest title of his career, the ATP Finals. He defeated David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. It marked the first time in the tournaments history, which goes back to 1970, that two players who qualified for the season-ending finale were battling it out in the championship match.
“It just came out. Simple as that. I don’t know, it’s a special event,” he said about his crying. “I mean, you don’t get the chance to play that — well, sometimes you get the chance to play that every year, but sometimes you don’t.
“For me, the way that the year has been, I mean, I felt I deserved to be here, yes, but I didn’t want to imagine that far ahead that, Yeah, I’m going to be on the final, win the whole thing.
“It was also just the end of the year, the last match. Knowing I don’t have to go to practice tomorrow will be great feeling when I wake up in the morning, I just can do whatever I want. As a tennis player, you don’t have that freedom that much. If you want to be up at the top, there’s no shortcuts.
“Yeah, I’m fully dedicated. This year I think I’ve done a lot of work on that. I sacrificed days that I should have probably had off, maybe go to a little vacation here and there. Now it pays off.”
This was the sixth meeting between the two players and Dimitrov has won five including one during the round robin competition – the final match was a vast contrast to the earlier encounter which saw Dimitrov surrender just two games.
Dimitrov’s results of late will see him end the year as world No.3 while Goffin will be at seven; for both the rankings are career high.
The first three games of the final were service breaks but the Goffin consolidated but in the eighth game Dimitrov struck back as Goffin double faulted on break point. The Belgian was broken again as he served to try and stay in the first set. He played some messy returns and may have been a bit nervous. He lost the set when he netted a forehand.
In the second Goffin saved a break point and suddenly that gave him some renewed energy and he went on to level the final which was proving to be very entertaining. In the third Dimitrov saved break points in he first game and broke in the sixth game when Goffin sent a backhand wide. The Bulgarian eventually claimed the title and left the Belgian disappointed when Goffin made a backhand error into the net.
“I think after this week I’m a better player mentally,” Goffin said bravely. “Yeah, obviously mentally, but also, yeah, physically. It was tough. I proved to myself that I can do it. I was at the right place because, you know, sometimes you are for the first time in the top 8, you don’t know how it’s going to go, if you’re going to play a good level.
“I proved to myself that, yeah, I’m in the right place, and I deserve to be here in this tournament. Then match after match, I took more confidence until the final. So I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, even if I’m disappointed about the final. I gave everything. I have no regrets after the final. Anyway, it was a great week. So, yeah, I think I’m a better player.”
It had been an incredible week for him becoming just the sixth player to beat Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer at the same tournament.
The doubles title went to Shanghai Rolex Masters reigning champions John Peers and Henri Kontinen. In fact, it was a repeat of the Shanghai Rolex Masters final as they defeated the year-end world No.1 team Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot 6-4, 6-2.
It is the second consecutive year Peers and Kontinen have won the ATP Finals and they are the first combination to achieve that since the Bryans in 2003-04. Peers is also the first Australian since the famed “Woodies” to win multiple titles at the season-ending championship.