Current World Number Three Grigor Dimitrov survived in a thriller against Belgian David Goffin to be crowned Nitto ATP Finals Champion, the first debutant to do so in 19 years.
With moments of spectacular play throughout the whole match the 26 year-old Bulgarian claimed the biggest title of his career in London after defeating the resilient Goffin (7-5, 4-6, 6-3).
The two finalists met for the second time this week, with Dimitrov defeating Goffin in straight sets during the round-robin stage.
Goffin had already scored one victory against Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the tournament.
But, it wasn’t enough to stop Dimitrov earning his fifth victory over Goffin at ATP level.
Sunday’s clash was a throwback from the final of the tournament in Sofia in February, when Grigor won 7-5, 6-4.
Breakpoints And Breakthroughs
The first set had started badly for Dimitrov as he lost his service game and Goffin managed to receive an early break.
Dimitrov replied in the best possible way, as he immediately returned the break, also winning his second breakpoint. However, there was a third consecutive breakthrough in the game and Goffin again went ahead.
Dimitrov was up 0-40, reflecting the first two break points, but for the third Goffin’s aggressive style returned, hitting back-to-back forehand winners to break for the third time in the match.
In the fourth game, with a series of excellent services, Goffin turned the score from took the lead with 3-1.
After each player winning numerous games, Goffin was doing everything with his return, but Dimitrov managed to get his serving game for the first time since the start of the final and he went ahead to make sure set 5-4.
Goffin equalized for 5-5, and in the 11th game Dimitrov made two consecutive double faults, but he kept calm and managed to continue his lead.
The following was a marathon 12th game in which Goffin showed composure and escaped from 15-40. Then the Belgian saved two more breakpoints, but in the fifth he capitulated – when a shot in the net ended the first set after just one hour of play.
In the second set Dimitrov started strongly and confidently took his service games, but for a moment Dimitrov lost his concentration and Goffin won the second set with 4-6, with an outstanding play and amazing first serves (11 aces).
The two players played a gladiator’s first game in the third set, with Dimitrov saving three breakpoints to win the opening game.
The two tennis players had a very good fight on the court and no one was accepting the defeat, but Dimitrov was just too strong for Goffin.
The match ended with a quick serving game from Dimitrov to crown the Bulgarian as the Nitto ATP Finals champion.
Dimitrov, in particular, looks now to be a leading contender behind Nadal and Federer, as he will rise to World Number Three when the rankings update on Monday.
He also pockets the champion’s cheque for 1.2million US dollars (£910,000) to take his total haul for the week to 2,549,000 dollars (£1.93million).
“It has been a tremendous two weeks for me,” said Dimitrov at his court interview immediately after the match. “It is such an honour to play here. This week has been one of the best I have had.”
While Dimitrov’s season is now over, Goffin will try to help Belgium to a first ever Davis Cup victory against France next week.
“It was a special week for me,” said the Belgian. “A week with a lot of emotion and a lot of fatigue. Now I am feeling tired but it was an amazing week.”