LONDON (Reuters) - 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.
Both finalists were first-time qualifiers for the tournament and while many ticket holders might have booked them in anticipation of watching Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, the two newcomers provided a fitting end to the ATP season.
Goffin managed only two games against Dimitrov when they met on Wednesday in group play, but the world number eight, who claimed a rare double of beating both Nadal and Federer this week, was a different proposition this time.
He was the better player early on, using his pinpoint accuracy to keep Dimitrov under control.
But a double-fault at 4-3, 30-30 opened the door for Dimitrov to break back for a second time and he converted as Goffin sent a forehand long.
Dimitrov, who had a 100 percent record in the group matches, asserted himself at the business end of the set and piled on the pressure when Goffin served at 5-6.
Goffin saved four set points, two with forehand winners, but double-faulted on a game point of his own before Dimitrov forced an error to wrap up the opener.
Goffin took the second set with a single break of serve and had chances at the start of the third set.
Yet Dimitrov broke for a 4-2 lead and although Goffin saved three match points at 5-2 down to keep the game alive and rescued another on the Bulgarian's serve, he finally deposited an easy volley into the net on the fifth match point.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ian Chadband)