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Updated: 22 hours 45 min ago

Year-End Top 100 At Stake In Final Week Of Challenger Season

Tue, 21/11/2017 - 4:50am

When Grigor Dimitrov lifted the trophy on Sunday at the Nitto ATP Finals, it marked the conclusion of the ATP World Tour season. But one week remains on the tennis calendar in 2017, with the ATP Challenger Tour finale featuring four tournaments on three continents.

Critical Emirates ATP Rankings points are up for grabs, as players jockey for position to cement themselves in the year-end Top 100. In fact, six players are poised to battle for coveted Top 100 spots this week, as they hope to secure direct entry into ATP World Tour events in 2018.

The eight-week South American swing concludes at the Rio Tennis Classic in Rio de Janeiro. Top seed Rogerio Dutra Silva eyes a title on home soil, while Saturday's Santiago champion Nicolas Jarry looks to cap his season with back-to-back victories. Jarry became the first Chilean to feature in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings since Paul Capdeville in 2011. At No. 99, the 22-year-old is also one of the biggest movers to the Top 100 this year, having opened his campaign at No. 303.

Jarry is joined by fellow Rio de Janeiro competitors Dutra Silva (No. 101), Roberto Carballes Baena (No. 107) and Gastao Elias (No. 114) as players in contention for year-end Top 100 berths. Elias opened the eight-week South American swing with a title in nearby Campinas, Brazil.

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Two events feature on Asian soil, with the inaugural Bengaluru Open in Bangalore set to cap a two-week Indian swing and the $150,000 EA Hua Hin Open Challenger, in Hua Hin, Thailand. In Bangalore, last week's Pune champion Yuki Bhambri looks to go back-to-back on home soil as he continues to push towards a Top 100 return. 

The third seed is up 352 spots since the start of the year to No. 122, in his comeback from an elbow injury. He is joined by top seed and World No. 102 Blaz Kavcic as players vying to secure their Top 100 standings. #NextGenATP Swede Elias Ymer is also in the field, on the heels of his first hard-court title in Mouilleron-le-Captif, France.

In Hua Hin, top seed Matthew Ebden is up to No. 80 after clinching the title in Toyota, Japan. The Aussie is guaranteed to finish in the year-end Top 100, completing a stunning 615-spot climb after concluding 2016 at No. 695 following knee surgery. Countrymen Akira Santillan and John Millman are other contenders in Hua Hin.

Andria, Italy, maintains its traditional season-ending tournament on the indoor hard courts of the ASD Pro Tennis Andria. The event has been a staple of the final week of the season since its debut in 2013. Home hope Stefano Travaglia is the top seed, with 2014 champion Ricardas Berankis seeded second.

The final week of the 2017 #ATPChallenger season is here. Four events on three continents and one place to watch the action

Zverev, Del Potro, Dimitrov Highlight Movers Of 2017

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 3:45pm

One of the biggest storylines of the 2017 ATP World Tour season was undoubtedly the fresh faces ascending the Emirates ATP Rankings. A new contingent of stars staked their claim with career-highs inside the Top 10, sending a message to the rest of the circuit. Meanwhile, veterans returning from injury rediscovered their elite form in returning to the upper echelons of the game.

Four players made their debut in the Top 10 in 2017: Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, Jack Sock and Pablo Carreno Busta. Zverev and Carreno Busta are the biggest movers to the Top 10, with both rising 20 spots from the start of the season. At age 20, Zverev is the youngest member of the group and is the highest-ranked German since Tommy Haas in 2002, concluding his campaign at No. 4. The first-time qualifier at the Nitto ATP Finals was bolstered by ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns in Rome and Montreal. Carreno Busta, meanwhile, soared from No. 30 to No. 10 behind semi-final finishes at the US Open and in Indian Wells.

The German and the Spaniard were two of five players to rise double-digit spots to the Top 10, joining fellow debutant Sock as well as Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer. Sock rose 15 spots to No. 8 following his title at the Rolex Paris Masters, while Nitto ATP Finals champion Dimitrov climbed 14 spots to No. 3, three years after first making his Top 10 debut. On the heels of a tour-leading seven titles, Federer impressively returned to No. 2 after falling out of the Top 10 due to injury. He also moved up 14 spots.

In addition, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is in the top spot to conclude a season for the fourth time. After kicking off 2017 at No. 9, he has made the biggest single-season jump to year-end No. 1 since Andy Roddick went from No. 10 in 2002 to No. 1 in 2003.

Biggest Movers Inside Top 20

Player

Positions Moved

Start of 2017

End of 2017

Kevin Anderson

+53

No. 67

No. 14

Juan Martin del Potro

+27

No. 38

No. 11

Alexander Zverev

+20

No. 24

No. 4

Pablo Carreno Busta

+20

No. 30

No. 10 (career-high)

Sam Querrey

+18

No. 31

No. 13 (career-high)

Jack Sock

+15

No. 23

No. 8 (career-high)

Roger Federer +14 No. 16
No. 2
Grigor Dimitrov +14
No. 17 No. 3 (career-high)

While Carreno Busta, Dimitrov, Federer, Sock and Zverev enjoyed significant moves to the Top 10, two players celebrated even bigger ascents to the Top 20. Kevin Anderson soared 53 spots to No. 14 following an injury-plagued 2016 campaign, while Juan Martin del Potro rose 27 places to No. 11. With neither player having Emirates ATP Rankings points to defend in January, both will be in strong position to return to the Top 10 in the early stages of the 2018 season.

The surging #NextGenATP contingent also made great strides in climbing the Emirates ATP Rankings this year. Denis Shapovalov, the ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, was also named the Most Improved Player in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon for a reason. The Canadian teen vaulted 199 spots, from No. 250 to No. 51, thanks to a breakthrough semi-final run at the Rogers Cup and Round of 16 finish at the US Open.

Two other #NextGenATP stars also enjoyed moves of at least 100 spots to the Top 100, with Andrey Rublev catapulting 117 positions to No. 39 and Stefanos Tsitsipas rising 120 spots to No. 89. Rublev notched his maiden ATP World Tour title in Umag, while Tsitsipas won his first ATP Challenger Tour crown in Genova, Italy, and had a stunning run to the semi-finals at the European Open in Antwerp as a qualifier.

But no list of 2017 Emirates ATP Rankings movers would be complete without Matthew Ebden, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Filip Krajinovic and Nicolas Jarry, following their performances on the ATP Challenger Tour. The quartet are the only players to soar at least 200 spots to the Top 100. Stebe and Krajinovic were nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon, while Ebden has risen a whopping 615 spots to No. 80 in his return from knee surgery. Jarry, aged 22, makes his Top 100 debut on Monday after claiming his third title of the season in his comeback from wrist surgery.

Dimitrov: 'I Still Have A Lot To Give'

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 10:04am

Grigor Dimitrov knows as well as any, the problem with being a precocious prospect is the enormous weight of expectations from a young age. Wrapping up 2017 as the Nitto ATP Finals champion, he has made it abundantly clear he has landed.

For years, the gifted Bulgarian has garnered hype as one of the next big things. His results have provided hope, but it was not until 2017 that he solidified his intentions with a first tour title in 2 1/2 years in Brisbane, a title on home soil in Sofia, a maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy in Cincinnati and now the biggest title of his career at The O2.

Dimitrov started the year in a canter, falling in a high-quality five-set semi-final defeat to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open semi-finals. But after a triumph over David Goffin in the Sofia final helped propel him to a 16-1 start in 2017, inconsistency began to plague the mid-part of his season, the type that had so often hamstrung his progress in previous years.

At 26, maturity, experience and dedication taught Dimitrov, though, he could turn things around if he put his mind to it. Qualifying for his first season finale was surely validation and a hint of what was potentially in store for 2018.

“I think I've had good results in the past, but now, as I said, I need to be even more consistent on those kind of events, and in the same time raise up my level on occasions like this,” Dimitrov said.

“Obviously, this is a great, unbelievable achievement for me, yes. But I still have a lot to give. I want to perform better and better.”

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Win or lose the final against Goffin on Sunday, Dimitrov was assured of reaching a career-high of No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. A form and motivation slump had seen his ranking take a hit when he fell to as low as World No.40 in July last year.

“There I was thinking, ‘How can I put it together, put three balls in the court?’ But again, with the right state of mind, with the right people, with the right support, things happen,” Dimitrov said.

“For me, that period really helped me a lot. I think I needed that. And I appreciate those, six, seven months that were a complete struggle for me. I appreciate them in a way that only yourself, if you've been through that, you would understand that… Little by little, drop by drop, here I am.”

Victory over Goffin saw the Bulgarian finish his debut Nitto ATP Finals campaign undefeated, having seen off No. 4 seed Dominic Thiem, Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta in the group stages.

After he let four match points slip against Jack Sock the last time they played this year in Indian Wells, Dimitrov was understandably nervous when he needed three match points to get the job done in their semi-final of the season finale on Saturday. In Sunday’s final, there would be no repeat of the 6-0, 6-2 thrashing he dealt Goffin in the group stage.

He knew the Belgian was going to change his tactics after the previous clash. This one would require patience.

“Well, I was a little bit tired, as well. I had to play a few matches obviously back-to-back against solid opponents,” Dimitrov said of his more conservative approach on Sunday. “I think throughout the whole week, I've been keeping a good level. I knew that David is going to try something new. He had to be aggressive so he doesn't let me play my game.

“Obviously a little nervous towards the end of the match, which is I think quite normal. But again, I'm over that hurdle. I'm very happy just to finish strong.”

It caps a career-best season for the Bulgarian and a potential prelude to what’s in store. For now, it’s a few days of complete rest until he admits he’ll probably have to go for a run: “I’m going to get so restless.”

 Watch Full Match Replays

Story Of The Nitto ATP Finals 2017

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 9:52am
Relive some of the most memorable moments of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, which ended with Grigor Dimitrov capturing the title in his season finale debut. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Grigor's Secret Weapon In London

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 9:44am

His backhand kept him in the match, but it was his forehand that wrapped both hands around the trophy.

Grigor Dimitrov defeated David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to win the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 on Sunday, with his forehand hugely responsible for the only break of serve in the third and deciding set. With Goffin serving at 2-3 in the third, Dimitrov hit 12 rally backhands in the game, committing two errors. Importantly, no Dimitrov rally backhand extracted an error from Goffin on the other side of the court. 

His forehand, on the other hand, did all the heavy lifting.

Dimitrov hit 11 rally forehands in the game, five of which forced an error from the Belgian - including the final two points of the game to secure the critical break. Those five rally forehands from Dimitrov won’t turn up in a winner column on a stats sheet, but they had a major bearing on the final result. 

Three of the five errors from Goffin in the game actually came from run-around forehands from Dimitrov, as he upgraded from his comparatively slower backhand to his more potent forehand. If Dimitrov had just accepted those rally five balls to the Ad court as a backhand, the match could easily have taken a different twist at that important juncture.

Overall for the match, Dimitrov hit 62 per cent (174) forehands and 38 per cent (108) backhands, with his forehands being struck almost 20 per cent harder. Dimitrov averaged 75mph from his forehand wing, and just 62mph with his backhand.

In general play, Goffin was always looking to match up his stronger backhand through the Ad court to Dimitrov’s backhand, which made it imperative for the Bulgarian to hit as many run-around forehands as possible to escape the effective “backhand cage” tactics from Goffin.

The Belgian hit a substantial 82% of his backhands cross court to Dimitrov’s backhand, enjoying a critical power advantage in this area, mainly because he could force Dimitrov to slice the ball from deep behind the baseline where Goffin was not in any danger of getting hurt.

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Average Backhand Speed 
• Goffin = 68mph
• Dimitrov = 62mph

Groundstroke Topspin / Slice Ratio
• Goffin = 93% topspin / 7% slice
• Dimitrov = 73% topspin / 27% slice

Backhand Rally Hit Point 
• Goffin = 21% inside baseline / 79% behind
• Dimitrov = 14% inside baseline = 86% behind

Dimitrov Serving
Dimitrov’s serve performance was up and down during in the match, with nerves playing a part in some wayward tosses, and also responsible for six double faults. But in the third set, Dimitrov’s serve lifted, particularly winning critical free points by forcing more return errors from Goffin than in any other set.

Dimitrov Unreturned Serves
• Set 1 = 30%
• Set 2 = 28%
• Set 3 = 41%

Dimitrov also won the highest percentage of first and second serve points of any set in the third set, sending down just one ace, but most importantly, just committing one double fault.

Dimitrov 1st Serve Points Won
• Set 1 = 70%
• Set 2 = 61%
• Set 3 = 73%

Dimitrov 2nd Serve Points Won
• Set 1 = 25%
• Set 2 = 60%
• Set 3 = 64%

Rally Length
Dimitrov won just six more points than Goffin (108 - 102) for the match. with that slight advantage coming mostly in the extended rallies of 10+ shots. Overall, 91 per cent of all points were in the single digits of nine shots or less, with both players being almost dead even in points won.

Points Won Under 9 Shots 
• Dimitrov = 96
• Goffin = 95

Points Won 10+ Shots
• Dimitrov = 12
• Goffin = 7

It was a see-sawing, high quality final that had the packed house on the edge of their seats as they witnessed Dimitrov finally seal victory on his fifth match point. A handful of seemingly random forehands earlier in the set had an important say in Dimitrov winning the biggest title of his career.

 Watch Full Match Replays

Pancho Segura: 1921-2017

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 8:43am

Pancho Segura, one of the world’s leading players of the 1940s and 1950s, who would later mentor and coach Jimmy Connors, passed away on Saturday aged 96 due to complications of Parkinson's disease at his home in Carlsbad, California.

At 5'6", Segura was diminutive in stature, but displayed an imposing game predicated on lightning-fast agility, a lethal two-handed forehand and astute court awareness. Tennis legend Jack Kramer, the ATP’s first Executive Director, once said that he possessed “the single greatest shot in the history of tennis”, as his forehand cut through the court with devastating precision and power. 

Upon turning professional in 1947, Segura became an immediate fan favourite with his sharp sense of humour and unorthodox style. He would ascend to No. 1 in the world rankings in 1950 and was an inductee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1984, following a successful 20-year career. A three-time U.S. Pro champion from 1950-52, he is the only player to have won the title on three different surfaces.

While Segura earned fame and respect from his peers for his actions between the lines, it was his improbable story of survival that is most remarkable. Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, as one of seven children, he overcame an impoverished childhood and was plagued by rickets, which resulted in bowed legs, and malaria. But despite the improbable odds, Segura thrived on the tennis court with great athleticism and is regarded as one of the greatest players to hail from South America.

In 1962, Segura launched a successful career as a coach in the United States and was hired as the tennis director at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club, where he became a mentor and coach to Jimmy Connors. In the late 1960s and 1970s, he honed Connors' game and guided him to multiple Grand Slam crowns.

Segura would later become a citizen of the United States in 1991. His autobiography, Little Pancho: The Life of Tennis Legend Pancho Segura, was published in May 2009.

He is survived by his second wife, Beverley, their daughter, Maria. He had one son, Spencer, from his first marriage.

Francisco Olegario Segura, tennis player and coach, born 20 June 1921, died 19 November 2017.

Sad day-- lost my friend-coach- and mentor- the great Pancho Segura to complications from Parkinson's- passed last night at age 96- RIP

Hot Shot Countdown At Nitto ATP Finals 2017

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 8:35am
Relive the most exciting moments from the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, as we count down the best Hot Shots, featuring Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov, Jack Sock and David Goffin. Watch live matches at tennistv.com.

Highlights: Dimitrov Battles To Nitto ATP Finals Title

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 8:32am
Watch highlights as Grigor Dimitrov battles past David Goffin in his debut at The O2 to win the Nitto ATP Finals. Photo Credit: Thomas Lovelock. Watch live tennis at Tennis TV.com.

Dimitrov Reflects On Achievement In London

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 8:32am
Grigor Dimitrov discusses his victory against David Goffin in the championship match at the Nitto ATP Finals. Watch live tennis at TennisTV.com.

Goffin Proves He Belongs On The Big Stage

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 8:26am

The final hurdle may have proven one too many for David Goffin at the Nitto ATP Finals, but the lithe Belgian’s confidence has never been higher as he leaves London. Only an inspired Grigor Dimitrov would bring his first campaign as an outright qualifier to an end.

No man had beaten Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the same event and fallen short of claiming the title. But Goffin was not bitter – he was only drawing positives from the biggest week of his career.

“No, it's not unfair,” Goffin said. “I think I deserve the win today, of course. But Grigor also, he deserves the win. He was unbeatable this week. He played really great tennis, was really solid from the first match until the end. So he deserves completely to be here and to win the tournament.

“Even if I won against Rafa and Roger, I lost the final. But anyway, it was a great week. So I have no regrets after that match.”

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Dimitrov’s 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 triumph meant he was the only man to beat Goffin all tournament. He also won the pair’s round-robin clash for the loss of just two games.

Goffin became the first Belgian man to beat a No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings when he upset Nadal first up, before his convincing defeat to Dimitrov. He surged into his maiden Nitto ATP Finals semi-final with an emphatic win over No. 4 seed Dominic Thiem before overturning a 0-6 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Federer in the semi-finals.

It made him just the sixth man to beat Federer and Nadal in the same event and the first since Djokovic to do so at the 2015 Nitto ATP Finals

“I think after this week I'm a better player mentally,” Goffin said. “Obviously mentally, but also physically. It was tough. “I proved to myself that I can do it. I was at the right place because 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 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.”

It caps a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the 26-year-old, following a freak mid-season setback when he tripped on the court covers during a third-round clash with Horacio Zeballos at Roland Garros and was forced to retire with an ankle injury.

After starting the year with a quarter-final run at the Australian Open and having reached back-to-back finals in Sofia (l. Dimitrov) and Rotterdam (l. to Tsonga) it was a cruel blow and meant he would miss Wimbledon. He found form after the US Open when he snapped a six-match losing streak in finals to claim back-to-back titles at Shenzhen (d. Dolgopolov) and Tokyo (d. Mannarino).

Where a well-earned break is in order for most of his peers, Goffin is not quite done. He will make his way to Lille now for Belgium’s second Davis Cup final in three years where his nation will face the might of France.

Regardless of whether his team leaves France with the silverware, 2017 has already proven to Goffin he’s in the right place and he deserves to be there.

 Watch Full Match Replays

Goffin Pressure Strike Hot Shot Nitto ATP Finals 2017

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 7:37am
Watch Hot Shot as David Goffin flicks a backhand cross court under extreme pressure from Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday in the title match of the Nitto ATP Finals. Photo: Getty Images. Watch live tennis at TennisTV.com.

Dimitrov Strikes Back To Back Hot Shots Nitto ATP Finals 2017

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 7:36am
Grigor Dimitrov's agility was on full display as he claimed consecutive Hot Shots en route to the title at the Nitto ATP Finals. Watch live tennis at TennisTV.com.

Highlights: Kontinen Peers Retain Nitto ATP Finals Trophy

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 6:57am
Watch highlights as Henri Kontinen and John Peers retain their title at the season finale with a victory against top-seeded Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. Photo Credit: Thomas Lovelock/ATP World Tour. Watch live tennis at TennisTV.com.

Kontinen And Peers Ecstatic To Retain Title

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 6:56am
Watch Henri Kontinen and John Peers celebrate their second consecutive Nitto ATP Finals title and then hear what the champions had to say about their victory on Sunday.

Jarry Makes Top 100 Debut With Victory On Home Soil

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 6:08am

A LOOK BACK
Movistar Open by Cachantun (Santiago, Chile): Competing in your hometown, with friends and family in attendance, is often one of the biggest thrills for a professional tennis player. It's no wonder Nicolas Jarry was speechless as he stood on Center Court at the Club de Polo y Equitación San Cristobal, with the trophy firmly wrapped in his arms.

Jarry claimed his third ATP Challenger Tour title of the year and first on home soil, downing Marcelo Arevalo 6-1, 7-5 in Saturday's final in Santiago. The 22-year-old Chilean did not drop a set all week, becoming the 12th player to lift three or more trophies in 2017. He has found great success on the South American clay, adding to titles won in Medellin, Colombia and Quito, Ecuador.

The victory has added significance for Jarry, who breaks into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time at No. 99. Two years after suffering a broken wrist and falling outside the Top 600, the Chilean is realizing his potential.

He's done it! @NicoJarry claims his first title on home soil, defeating Arevalo 61 75 for the Santiago

Hear Him Roar, Title Belongs To Grigor!

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 5:35am

Grigor Dimitrov finished the best season of his career with the biggest title of his life.

The Bulgarian won his fifth consecutive match at the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday, beating David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to win the season-ending championships during his debut.

It's the fourth title of Dimitrov's 2017 – a career-high – and the eighth of his career. The right-hander was already going to climb to a career-high No. 3 in the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings. But now he'll do so emphatically and with a heap of momentum heading into his 2018 season.

“This makes me even more locked in, more excited about my work, and for what's to come,” Dimitrov said. “It's a great platform for me to build on for next year. It's going to be amazing in the off-season. I know what I have to do in order to do good.”

Read More: Dimitrov: Leaving No Stone Unturned

He became the first debutant to win the Nitto ATP Finals title since Spaniard Alex Corretja in 1998 (d. Moya). The Bulgarian, who finished 5-0 this week in London, will earn $2,549,000 in prize money and 1,500 Emirates ATP Rankings points.

This was the year so many pundits and fans had wanted for Dimitrov – a quartet of titles, a Top 5 finish. It all seems to have changed midway through last season, when he paired with coach Daniel Vallverdu. The Bulgarian was No. 40 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, his lowest position in more than three years, and he had lost both of his ATP World Tour finals.

 Watch Full Match Replays

But Vallverdu, who had worked with Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, brought a simplified game plan for Dimitrov, and as the two grew closer, the weekend finishes – and the titles – followed.

“With the right set of mind, with the right people, with the right support, things happen. For me, that period really helped me a lot. I think I needed that,” Dimitrov said. “In that particular moment, I really realised what I really need to work on, who are the real people around me, who really counts on me, who matters to me. There's so many lessons that I took out of that period.”

The 26-year-old Dimitrov was emotional in his celebration. He lied face first on the court, sobbing. He rose to hug Goffin before hopping to his box and sharing long embraces with his parents, Vallerdu and others.

First-Year Qualifiers Become Nitto ATP Finals Champions

Year

Player

2017

Grigor Dimitrov (d. Goffin)

1998

Alex Corretja (d. Moya)

1978

John McEnroe (d. Ashe)

1974

Guillermo Vilas (d. Nastase)

1971

Ilie Nastase (Smith second in round robin)

1970

Stan Smith (Laver second in round robin)

The sixth seed had already beaten Goffin at The O2 — a 6-0, 6-2 rout on Wednesday during Group Pete Sampras play — and now leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-1 against the Belgian. Sunday's final marked the 17th time singles finalists have met twice in the same year-end championship, and the first time two first-time qualifiers had played for the title.

But, after that round-robin match, Goffin had experienced what he called the best win of his career, upsetting the No. 2 seed and six-time former champion Roger Federer to reach Sunday's final.

Goffin started quicker as well, leading by a break at 4-3. But when he slapped a forehand long, they were back on serve, and the crowd, including those waving Bulgarian flags, made their favourite known, chanting “Di-mi-trov! Di-mi-trov! Di-mi-trov!”

Let's Meet Again At The Nitto ATP Finals

Year

Champion

Round Robin Result

Championship Result

2017

Grigor Dimitrov

d. Goffin 60 62

d. Goffin 75 46 63

2015

Novak Djokovic

l. to Federer 75 62

d. Federer 63 64

2011

Roger Federer

d. Tsonga 62 26 64

d. Tsonga 63 67 63

2008

Novak Djokovic

d. Davydenko 76 06 75

d. Davydenko 61 75

2005

David Nalbandian

l. to Federer 63 26 64

d. Federer 67 67 62 61 76

2004

Roger Federer

d. Hewitt 63 64

d. Hewitt 63 62

The Bulgarian then upped his level even more, not facing a break point in his final two services games and later taking the set.

“I really had to dig deep, especially in that first set, which I thought was the key,” Dimitrov said.

But Goffin returned to his aggressive style at 3-3 in the second set, hitting back-to-back forehand winners to break for the third time in the match. He was dominant on serve in the second as well, dropping only five points, and forcing the final match of the 2017 ATP World Tour season to a final set.

“When the serve is going well, it's easier to be more aggressive,” Goffin said.

The Belgian had made his week – and his year – by finding a way through third sets. Goffin had beaten Nadal and Federer in London in three sets. For the season, Goffin was 22-5 in decisive sets. But Dimitrov, who had been about .500 in decisive sets this year, pulled through, breaking in an 11-point game when Goffin spilled a backhand wide. He converted his fifth championship point when Goffin netted a backhand volley.

Goffin will take home $1,158,000 in prize money and 800 Emirates ATP Rankings points. The Belgian will finish at a career-high No. 7 in the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings.

“I proved to myself that 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,” Goffin said. “So I'm proud of what I've achieved, even if I'm disappointed about the final.”

Day 7 45 Second Snapshot Nitto ATP Finals 2017

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 2:29am
Relive the highlights of day seven at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Woodforde Previews Doubles Final At The O2

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 2:27am
Doubles legend Mark Woodforde previews the championship match between Kontinen/Peers and Kubot/Melo at the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday.

Kontinen/Peers Retain Nitto ATP Finals Title

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 2:27am
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They may not be finishing the season with the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking, but Henri Kontinen and John Peers aren’t leaving the Nitto ATP Finals without hardware.

After producing a serving masterclass, Kontinen and Peers defeated top-seeded Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, 6-4, 6-2, in 70 minutes to retain their title at the season finale.

A year after capturing the trophy in London in their team debut, Kontinen and Peers won four straight matches after dropping their round-robin opener against eighth-seeded Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus to clinch the triumph at The O2 without losing a set in the semi-finals or final. They are the first pair to win back-to-back titles at the season finale since Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in 2003 and 2004.

"I thought every match we played here, we've played better and better as the week has gone on," Peers said. "It's nice to come back and defend our title. It feels good to go on holidays after a win."

It is the fifth title of the season for the Finnish-Australian duo, who have won all five finals they contested. That includes their first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

Kubot and Melo are not finishing their year on a down note, as their first win in Group Eltingh/Haarhuis clinched for them the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking, despite a 4-5 record to begin the season.

 Watch Full Match Replays

But it was clear from the opening game that this match would go the way of Kontinen and Peers, who now lead the FedExATP Head2Head rivalry 4-1. While the second seeds held at love in their first two service games, the Polish-Brazilian duo struggled, facing a break point in the first game of the match. And once Kontinen and Peers broke at 2-2, they were clearly in control. The team broke in the opening game of the second set and pulled away from there, Peers putting away a backhand volley for a winner to clinch the victory.

"Maybe we fire up a bit more playing them. I think they're a really tough team," Kontinen said of Kubot and Melo. "We always know playing this team, pretty much all the teams in this tournament, we're going to have to play our best to win. Luckily we were able to do that today."

In the match, Kontinen and Peers lost just three points on their first serve and saved all three break points they faced.

Kontinen and Peers earned 1,300 points for their efforts this week, and will share $450,000 in prize money. Kubot and Melo captured 800 points and will split $262,000 in prize money.

Three Former World No. 1s Lead 1990s Finals Club Celebrations In London

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 1:22am

Former players from the 1990s involved in the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals were welcomed to The O2, venue of the season finale in London, this week. Boris Becker, the 1988, 1992 and 1995 champion, 1998 titlist Alex Corretja, and former World No. 1s Stefan Edberg (1989 winner) and Yevgeny Kafelnikov took part in this week’s celebrations, while those working on-site - 1994 doubles titlist Jonas Bjorkman (w/Apell) and Carlos Moya - were also honoured.

More than 30 players, who featured in the year-end singles and doubles championships from the 1990s, travelled to the English capital as part of The Finals Club, an initiative established in 2015 that welcomes some of the game’s former greats from the past 47 years to return to the season-ending tournament, where they will be able to reconnect with the sport, their peers, as well as the world’s best players of today.

Those accepting the ATP World Tour’s invitation this year also included Kelly Jones, Patrick Galbraith, Alex O'Brien, Jacco Eltingh, Paul Haarhuis and Mark Woodforde, who had all been No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings. Jan Apell, Wayne Black, Albert Costa, Olivier Delaitre, Steve DeVries, Wayne Ferreira, Tim Henman, Luke Jensen, Nicolas Kiefer, Karol Kucera, Nicklas Kulti, Nicolas Lapentti, Luis Lobo, Todd Martin, Francisco Montana, Karel Novacek, Jiri Novak, Libor Pimek, David Rikl, Greg Rusedski, Javier Sanchez, Fabrice Santoro, Cyril Suk and Byron Talbot also took part.

“The Finals Club is a fantastic idea and it makes the Nitto ATP Finals a must stop for former players,” said Moya, who now coaches Rafael Nadal, the 2017 year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. “This was a great opportunity to catch up with old rivals and friends.”

Martin, the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, who competed at the 1999 season finale, said, “The tournament is unique with its round-robin format, the fact you can lose but progress and potentially lift the title. It has grown in prestige and I am extremely happy that both singles and doubles competitors are able to compete together in London, one of the sport’s biggest markets.”

The group took a boat ride from the London Eye to The O2, then enjoyed a Moët & Chandon toast and were welcomed by Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President. Having been presented with personalised Moët & Chandon bottles, the former players enjoyed a sumptuous lunch, prior to taking their seats courtside for the 2017 singles and doubles title matches at the Nitto ATP Finals.

While players from the 2000s will be celebrated next year, The Finals Club this year has been highlighted by the renaming of Groups A and B for both the singles and doubles in honour of players who made an indelible mark on the tournament in the 1990s. In singles, Group A was named after Pete Sampras, the 1991, 1994, 1996-97, 1999 champion, and Group B after Becker. The doubles groups were named Woodbridge/Woodforde and Eltingh-Haarhuis, after Australians Todd Woodbridge and Woodforde - the 1992, 1996 doubles titlists - and Eltingh and Haarhuis, who won the year-end championships in 1993 and 1998.