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Dimitrov comes of age to win ATP Finals title

The 26-year-old recovered from losing his opening two service games to finally get the better of the willowy Belgian player.

Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov celebrates winning his men's singles final match against Belgium's David Goffin on day eight of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on 19 November 2017. Dimitrov won the match 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career and sent out a huge statement of intent as the stylish Bulgarian beat David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to win the ATP Finals on Sunday.

The 26-year-old recovered from losing his opening two service games to finally get the better of the willowy Belgian player, but it was fiercely-fought two-and-a-half hour duel with Goffin saving four match points before finally succumbing.

Dimitrov’s unbeaten run this week in London earned him $2.5 million while the 1,500 ranking points have catapulted him to end an impressive year ranked third in the world behind only all-time greats Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

More significantly perhaps, landing the unofficial “fifth” grand slam appears to be proof that the former junior Wimbledon champion, once dubbed ‘Baby Federer’ because of his easy-on-the-eye style, has finally come of age.

“It’s been an amazing week for me,” Dimitrov said on court after becoming the first player to win the elite eight-man tournament on his first appearance in the event since Spaniard Alex Corretja beat countryman Carlos Moya in 1998.

“It’s such an honour to be here and this week has been one of the best weeks I’ve ever had.”

He was still on court nearly an hour after the match ended, signing autographs for the sizeable Bulgarian contingent who had roared their man to victory.

Yet it was tough on Goffin who, like Dimitrov, was his country’s first qualifier for the ATP Finals.

His substantial consolation, though, was to end the year at a career-high seventh, having become only the sixth man to beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same tournament.