It was billed to be the final epic showdown of the year between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer but Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov had a different script.
The sixth-seeded Bulgarian claimed the title at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday, prevailing on his fifth match point to beat David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the final.
Coffin had the enviable honour of beating both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in London. While the defeat of Nadal might be alluded to a knee injury, the defeat of Roger in the semifinal was a different story.
Many of us at the 02 were disappointed with the ease with which Roger took the first set in the semifinal match against Goffin. It was immediately concluded that Roger will carry the day but Goffin changed gear to win both the second and third sets to qualify for the final.
The final was a well contested match. Dimitrov had been the player by a mile. He had demolished Goffin in straight sets when they met during the group stage. He put up a spirited fight in final taking the second set but Dimitrov will not be denied his date with destiny, urged on by the crowd including David Beckham, Patrick Stewart among others, he took the third 6-3 to win the biggest title of his career.
After winning all five of his matches at the O2 Arena, he became the first player to win the elite tournament on their debut since 1998, when Alex Corretja of Spain triumphed in Hanover.
Dimitrov went home with ,$2.5m as champion while Goffin earns $1.7m as the running. With the performance in London, the duo are in good stead to challenge for a grand slam title in 2018.
The Finnish – Australian pair of Henri Kontinen and John Peers defeated top-seeded Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, 6-4, 6-2, in 70 minutes to retain their double title at the season finale.