Dimitrov races through
Grigor Dimitrov produced one of his best performances of the season to dismantle David Goffin 6-0, 6-2 and reach the semi-finals of the ATP Finals.
An irrepressible force throughout, the Bulgarian won 12 of the first 15 points and never looked back, with Goffin simply unable to gain a foothold in the opening set.
There were 48 minutes on the clock when Goffin first got on the scoreboard, but the Belgian never looked like summoning the level that saw him beat world No.1 Rafael Nadal in his opening match.
Unpeturbed by seeing his nine game winning streak come to an end, Dimitrov continued to whirr around the court, both smothering Goffin at the net and picking him off from the baseline, most notably with a down-the-line forehand winner on match point.
In all, the world No.6 ended the encounter with 18 winners to his name, and made 17 forays to the net, 70% of which resulted in him winning the point.
"I think I clearly played a great match today," said Dimitrov.
"This is definitely the one that sticks out in terms of consistency, focus, striking the ball, movement, agility, everything that I can possibly think.
"I work for those moments, too. They don't just come to you. Again, when you recognise that, you might as well make the most out of it."
The result seals Dimitrov's passage to the semi-finals, and he would later be confirmed as the winner of the Pete Sampras group, meaning he will face either Jack Sock or Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.
Goffin, meanwhile, faces a straight shootout for a semi-final berth against Dominic Thiem.
"It was just a tough, tough match against Grigor, who played really well," he said.
"I have to now prepare for the next one. The most important [thing] is to think about the next match."
Thiem keeps hopes alive
Dominic Thiem edged past Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to maintain his hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
The Austrian went into the encounter with a 4-0 lead in the pair's head-to-head, and claimed the early initiative by breaking in the fifth game. Aided by some powerful groundstrokes and a 90% win rate on first serve points, Thiem maintained his advantage to take the opening set.
But the momentum swung in the opening exchanges of the second set, with Thiem failing to convert a break point in the first game before losing his own serve in the next.
Carreno Busta, who displayed his hard court credentials by reaching the US Open semi-finals earlier in the year, began to grow in confidence, and the world No.10 proved he could go toe-to-toe with Thiem from the baseline when needed, while also serve and volleying to great effect.
With Thiem serving to stay in the set at 3-5, Carreno Busta produced a remarkable return game, cracking three fierce return winners to break his opponent for a second time and force a decider.
The third set was a pulsating affair, with Thiem breaking at the first opportunity before being pegged back for 3-3. The contest was finely balanced, but the Austrian ensured the final swing of momentum went his way, breaking for 5-4 before serving it out with his 12th ace of the match.
The world No.4 can now reach the semi-finals with a victory over Goffin, but trails the Belgian 3-6 in their head-to-head, with two of those defeats coming this season.
"We had some big, important matches in the past, also in the deep rounds of Slams," said Thiem of his final round robin encounter.
"This one's going to be another one. We know each other very well. He played a very good match here, one very bad match.
"I don't know what to expect. I'm hoping that it's going to be a tough match, and I'm trying everything to go through to the semis."
While it was a strong effort from Carreno Busta, who stepped in for the injured Nadal, he now finds himself eliminated from semi-final contention, and will end his season against Dimitrov on Friday.