In the battle of good friends and hitting partners, David Goffin took down Dominic Thiem by 6-4 6-2 in just 71 minutes to book the place in Saturday's semi-final against Roger Federer. This was the 56th win of the season for the Belgian and 7th over Thiem in 10 matches, including 3 wins in 2017. 12 months ago, David had a chance to make the ATP Finals debut as a substitution, losing to Novak Djokovic, and he will play compete in the last 4 after notching 2 wins in Group Pete Sampras.
Thiem played another terrible match, clueless about how to move David from the comfort zone or to impose his shots. His first serve let him down and he completely faded from the court after an early 3-0 lead, losing 12 out of the last 14 games to end his season and take some well-deserved rest.
Goffin saved 5 out of 6 break points to control the result after that initial setback, and his victory was never in doubt once he got back on the scoreboard. In what has been the worst match of the tournament in the first 6 days of competition, Thiem had 11 winners and 27 unforced errors, never finding the range of his shots, and Goffin stood on a more moderate 10-20 ratio, adding this match to a quickly-forgotten list.
David served at 66%, miles in front of Dominic who stayed on 43%, but they had a similar number of break points, something that we could have never judged when we look the scoreline. David was more focused in the most important points, clinching 11 out of 13 points when he or Thiem faced a break chance, and that made all the difference.
The Belgian had a notable 42-27 advantage in the shortest points up to 4 strokes, prevailing in the longer rallies as well to emerge as a deserved winner. Dominic will have to find the way to step up his game on the hard courts, finishing the year with a pale 21-19 score on the most dominant surface in the calendar, never passing the quarter-final round.
Thiem kicked off the match with a break at love in game 2, creating a 3-0 gap after just 9 minutes of play. Out of sudden, David found his shots after that and he made a complete turnaround, clinching the next 5 games and 20 out of 23 points to be 5-3 in front! Dominic lost his drive and he got broken at love in game 5 after a double fault and again in game 7 when he sent a forehand wide.
Since that early break he suffered, Belgian played great on his serve, controlling the pace and attacking pale rival who could not stop his drought. Goffin clinched the opener with an amazing forehead winner in the 10th game, and he was ready to charge even stronger in set number 2.
There, Thiem held at love in the opening game but that was all we saw from his, losing the next 6 games to end his ATP Finals campaign on a negative note. David moved in front with a nice forehand attack in game 3 and he never looked back, opening a 4-1 gap when Dominic hit another backhand that landed miles long.
The 6th game was by far the longest of the match and Goffin had to dig deep to stay unbroken, fending off 4 break points and some 8 deuces before he clinched his 5th straight game. He sealed the deal with a backhand return winner in game 7, moving into his first ATP Finals semi-final in only second appearance, as he had a chance to play one match here in 2016 as well.
David will have to bring his best tennis on Saturday if he wants to challenge Roger Federer, whom he never beat in the previous 6 encounters. Round robin result: