Newcomers Throw Nitto ATP Finals Semis Wide Open

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What a tournament it has been so far. Who could have predicted Rafael Nadal’s shock withdrawal, Jack Sock’s heroics against Alexander Zverev, and David Goffin’s dismantling of Dominic Thiem? At the semi-final stage of the ATP Finals everything is still to play for, as the two tournament debutants go head to head in one semi-final, and in the other, David Goffin looks to overturn an unwelcome record against Roger Federer. It should pave the way for a pulsating few days in the lead up to the final.

Sock And Dimitrov Go For Redemption

Perseverance, it seems, does eventually pay off. Just ask Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock. These two have been on the fringes of the world’s best tennis players for a while now, and finally their chance to establish themselves among the top 10 has arrived. Dimitrov has long been touted as the next big champion. His playing style has been likened to Roger Federer, and his public image to Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, but Dimitrov has found success on the greatest stage harder to come by than his two aforementioned likenesses. Nevertheless, his form this week has been scintillating. He dropped a set in his opening match to Dominic Thiem, but has only dropped four games in his next two matches against Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta, respectively. His attacking game and single-handed backhand will undoubtedly make him a fan’s favourite in London, but he comes up against an opponent whom he has not beaten since 2014, which could complicate things for the Bulgarian.
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Like Dimitrov, Jack Sock has been knocking on the door for a while now, only to find himself often coming up short. Until now. Sock has been in fabulous form since the Paris Masters in Bercy, where the American claimed his first-ever ATP Masters 1000 title and clinched a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals. After his arrival in London, he has shown that Paris was not a fluke result, beating Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev in tight, three-set matches on his way to the semi-finals. Sock has a good record against Dimitrov, leading 3-1 in their head-to-head standings, and he will look to build on this further, using his trademark grit and determination to grind Dimitrov down and force errors. The big question regarding Sock, however, is whether his fitness will hold out. He has played a lot of tennis recently, and it will be interesting to see how long he can push himself before his schedule takes its toll.
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Whatever the outcome of the match, this semi-final will feature two men who both have points to prove, and who may not have many more opportunities like this in their careers. Therefore, it will be a match that tennis fans around the world will not want to miss.

David Against Goliath?

Unlike the previous semi-final, it is difficult to see how these two can further prove to the world that they firmly belong in the world’s top 10 this year: Roger Federer and David Goffin. Goffin took the Asian hard-court season by storm, winning titles in Tokyo and Shenzhen. He has also firmly established himself as Belgium’s best tennis player, and unlike his previous appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, there was no question whether he would qualify for London this time round. The Belgian is mercurial, and his slight physical frame masks the fact that he often out-powers opponents from the baseline. He will, however, need to change things up if he is to overcome an opponent whom he has never beaten in six previous encounters, and who also happens to be one of the greatest players of this generation.
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If ‘Cloud Nine’ were a place, Roger Federer would probably be on it, at the moment. The Swiss looks confident, and relaxed. He came through a tough group without recording a single loss, and appears to hold the answers to any questions that Goffin’s game poses. The main question will be whether he is injury-free, and how his body will hold up during the latter stages of the ATP Finals, but he has thus far given fans very little to worry about, regarding his form and fitness.

There is no such thing as a foregone conclusion in tennis, but it seems difficult to imagine Goffin beating Federer at this point. The Belgian and his fans, however, will hope that he can learn from his six previous defeats and give it his best shot, on one of the greatest stages of all.

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