David Goffin Stuns No.1 Rafael Nadal In ATP Finals Thriller
LONDON: Belgium’s David Goffin stunned world No.1 Rafael Nadal 7-6(5),6-7(4), 6-3, to grab the biggest win of his career at the ATP Finals.
The seventh seed entered the match with a 0-4 record against world No.1 players and 0-2 against Nadal, but the playing surface was instrumental in the outcome. During Nadal’s career, he has managed to win 75 ATP titles, but only one on an indoor hard court. 12 years ago at the 2005 Madrid Masters. Furthermore, the Spaniard struggled with the ongoing effects of a knee injury, which forced him to retire from the tournament afterwards.
“On the paper it’s the best win of my career, for sure, to beat Rafa. But I saw that he was struggling a little bit with his movementon on the court, and his knee was suffering a little bit.” Goffin told reporters after his win.
“But anyway it was tough. It was tough even if he was not moving 100%.”
Goffin’s milestone performance saw him hit a total of 39 winners to 23 unforced errors. On serve, he managed to produce 14 aces and win 64% of his first service points.
“It was a tough fight until the end. Rafa is one of the strongest players mentally on the tour.” Said Goffin.
“I am so happy to finally find the key to win this match. It is so special to do it here (in London).”
Embarking upon his second appearance at the O2 Arena, Goffin was relentless from the onset. Hitting an array of winners and pushing the ten-time French Open champion around the court. In comparison, Nadal struggled to find his range. Hitting only six winners to 18 unforced errors during a roller coaster opening set.
A game of cat and mouse saw the underdog lead twice before faltering. A series of Nadal forehand errors gifted him a break for 2-1, which he then extended to 3-1 with the help of three consecutive aces. The break was then squandered following a lacklustre Goffin service game. A case of deja vu occurred in the closing stages of the set after a winning cross-court forehand from Goffin secured him another break to serve the set out at 6-5. A task which the tight-hitting Belgian failed to do. Eventually he succeeded in the tiebreaker after Nadal hit a backhand into the net on set point.
Facing a tougher than expected challenge, Nadal continued to be pushed to his limits. The usual association of him dictating the rallies was replaced by him fighting to stay within contention. Goffin was in prime position to get the biggest win of his career, but struggled to knock down the Spaniard. Trailing by a set and 3-5, Nadal valiantly saved a match point after a Goffin forehand drifted wide. Two games later he was forced to save another three before levelling. Eventually his perseverance wore down his rival as he took the encounter into a decider.
Still, it was not enough to detail a determined Goffin, who kept fighting. Benefiting from Nadal’s mistakes in the match, he raced to a 4-1 lead in the decider. Inevitably the world No.1 continued to fight back, but the margin proved too much to close. Resulting in Goffin becoming the first Belgian player to defeat a world No.1 on the ATP Tour.
“I don’t know how I picked myself up after losing the four match points. I had no regrets and I just wanted to keep going and try to enjoy every point.” The world No.8 reflected.
“I am really proud to be the first Belgian to be here. I see the Belgian flags in the crowd and it is so nice to be here.”
As a consequence of his win, Goffin will take on Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday.