ATP Finals semi previews: Federer vs. Goffin; Dimitrov vs. Sock

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Both Sock and Dimitrov are playing for a spot in what would be the biggest match of each of their careers. (AP)

Roger Federer vs. David Goffin

It has been a breakthrough week for Goffin. On Monday, he recorded his first win over Rafael Nadal, and Friday he qualified for the semifinals at the ATP’s year-end championships for the first time. 

But there are breakthroughs, and then there are miracles; a win over Federer would be closer to the latter. Federer is 6-0 against the Belgian; he has lost just two sets in those six matches, and he won their last meeting, three weeks ago in Basel, 6-1, 6-2. Federer also happens to be on a 13-match win streak, dating back to the US Open, and he’ll come into this one with a day’s more rest than his opponent. 

Surprises are always possible; Federer’s game passed through unexpected turbulence in the second set of his last match, against Alexander Zverev. But even if that happens again, does Goffin have the game to make him pay for it? Federer likes to dictate play, and even if he’s off, he’ll get to keep doing it against this particular opponent.

Winner: Federer

Grigor Dimitrov vs. Jack Sock

For a Saturday evening showcase semi, this match doesn’t offer much in the way of box-office appeal—both Dimitrov and Sock are making their ATP Finals debuts. But what it lacks in star power it should make up for in competitiveness and suspense. Dimitrov and Sock have met four times, and all four of those matches have gone to a third set; Sock won the last one, in Indian Wells in March, 9-7 in a deciding tiebreaker. 

Plus, this match will be among the biggest of each man’s career. Until this week, the 25-year-old Sock and the 26-year-old Dimitrov could only have dreamed of reaching the final in London. Whoever gets there should enter 2018 with new and considerably higher expectations for himself.

As to who the winner will be, it’s a toss-up. Dimitrov’s game crescendoed in his 6-0, 6-2 win over Goffin on Wednesday, and if he approaches those heights again he could run away with this one. But Sock has won six three-setters in his last nine matches, and is playing the best and most resourceful tennis of his career. Sock also leads Dimitrov 3-1, and he’ll have had an extra day of rest. Still, I like Dimitrov’s possibilities.

Winner: Dimitrov

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