Good match between Goffin and Dimitrov, the Bulgarian coming through finally 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
On these last three matches:
I got to watch finally the Federer v Goffin match (son’s soccer game, what can I say – but of course I could follow on my phone, which, by the way, reveals a lot about a match if you can believe that: length of service game, patterns, like Federer getting to 30-0 on several Goffin serves, but then laying an egg and unable to break, etc.).
I watched the Dimitrov v Sock and saw most of the final earlier today/night.
- The Federer v Goffin match was almost predictable and quite unbelievable at the same time. I really never felt that confident about Federer’s chances, which goes back to me saying the tennis gods would give this title to Nadal (joking, but not really). This, of course, unleashed fanboy in my comments saying I was being “controversial” or whatever. Ha ha. Federer’s ability to get through his group (a tough group) even facing some resistance, suggested he had enough to handle most of these blokes. Throughout RR play, he’d play well, then look pretty shaky, hang-on, put-together some brilliant shots, serve well, come-up with a BoS, yell at his demons, etc. This characterized Federer’s London. As much as I did not see him breadsticking anyone, he looked to have enough left in the tank to get #7. And like most of you, if he did lose, perhaps we thought it would be to a high-flying Dimitrov in the final. But Goffin was plucky and skilled enough to take-down the favorite. His entire game, as I have observed often, is solid throughout, perhaps a tennis player’s player, can work both sides of his stroke, both corners of the court, can come to net, has a decent serve, can slice and play more offensively, etc. . . just no definitive weapon, necessarily, that scares his opponents. He outplayed Federer. That’s for sure. And Federer, on the other hand, looked so out of sorts in this match; which turns-out to be more the case the entire tournament. Watch his footwork, especially with his FH. This is that shot where he looks like he’s rushing it, wristing it, and actually looks almost like he’s sitting down trying to hit this FH. But it comes back to his footwork. He’s not getting up to the ball. And why is that? Well, if we play detective, we see him struggling with whether to be more offensive or more conservative, employ more slice and stay back or more like his Shanghai and Basel campaigns where he was up inside the court, thrashing his opponents with that topper BH and brutal FH. He wasn’t sure in London, and this hesitancy probably did-him-in. We saw this in his play with Zverev early, a pretty consequential match; he smartly played that BH slice a lot because it gives the tall German fits (keeping the ball low, etc.). Perhaps he just didn’t adjust enough to his different opponents and then became increasingly unsure of himself. Look at the camera cuts to his box; Ivan and Severin look like they’ve had some corrupt curry. Not all was quite right in Federer-land all week; at least that’s how I read it from the get-go. Still, I was surprised he wasn’t able to win the decider vs. Goffin. And like we said, bravo, David.
- The Sock v Dimitrov match went about according to plan. I thought Sock’s run ended here as that’s how I previewed the match, unlike my pick of Sock over Zverev, more or less. But we also referenced the fragility of Dimitrov. And he did try to give the match away there at the end. Sock showed-up again, despite taking that middle set off, like he did against Zverev; but when the chips were down, Sock hung easily with these more established players. Didn’t surprise me and I hope this turns-out to be a good experience that pays interest for Sock.
- Dimitrov’s fragility showed-up today vs. Goffin in the final. If I was having to pick someone in this final, I’d have to go with the Bulgarian, partly because of his form right now (85% of the time) and his easy win over Goffin earlier in the RR. But he had all sorts of trouble here too with closing-out the match and the championship. Credit goes to Goffin for playing such gutsy and quality tennis when he needed to (I believe he saved 5 championship points, several other big BPs as well), but the Bulgarian got shaky again. Sure enough, an error from the Belgian ended this match; still not sure Dimitrov could have closed on his own racquet. The errors did begin to creep-up on the tired Goffin, who played a whale of a tournament — and he has a DC final v France in about a week. . . on clay I suspect. :0
One thing that really adds to David’s game is something that was talked about in his win over Nadal but you could see Federer struggle with this, as well and it goes back to his fluency on both wings: his opponents have trouble reading where he’s going. Same set-up and movement whether that BH/FH is going CC or DTL. Lovely little nuance that drove Fedal, among others, a little crazy.
So, bravo to all — a surprising final but really solid tennis at times from all 7 players (we’re leaving that little Spanish contingent out of this 😉
Goffin’s run has to be the most compelling story here (sorry, Grigor even though this is the biggest title of your career). Goffin is practically a journeyman, but has had really a brilliant 2017. His play on the European clay was very high quality and after coming-back from his injury at RG, he played well enough (two titles in Asia if I’m correct) to get himself into London, along with representing in Belguim’s inspiring Davis Cup run. Then his London exploits, which include sending packing Nadal and Federer both. I waved the Belgian national flag for a reason (before even the SF): Goffin’s humility and class belong near the top of this sport.
Dimitrov is a bit more complicated, for me. I have referenced 1,000,000 times my Grigor stock purchase at the tail-end of 2016 – he played well there in the fall, which catapulted the one-hander (seemingly) into his run in Australia early 2017. His Brisbane tennis was dynamite, truly.
We know of the epic five-setter in the Melbourne SF v Nadal. But that, I guess, was his early peak. He struggled through the spring, really didn’t have much to show even through WB (Federer toyed with him in the R16 4 2 and 4).
But then he wins Cincinnati vs. a strong Kyrgios. Well, well. On the eve of NYC, the athletic, all-courter has finally decided to revisit that early 2017 hard court form.
In New York, losing in straights to Rublev in R64 pretty much spoiled that delicacy. Sure, Rublev made a nice little run there at the U.S. Open, but Dimitrov should have found that deeper draw, perhaps a date with Nadal. Of course, Dimitrov was part of that grand slam bracket implosion at the 2017 U.S. Open.
Still, Dimitrov was being Dimitrov. Losing in the Stockholm final to Del Potro just another nail in the proverbial coffin.
Yet, here we are (congrats, Dimitrov!). If 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that players rise from the dead. Right?
2018 will be all kinds of interesting on that topic.